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Get to Know Your Knits – Sustainable Fabrics Glossary

by Polina K
sustainable fabrics swatches in multiple colours

As a beginner sewist, navigating the world of online fabric shopping can feel like a never-ending maze. How do you know what you need without actually seeing it in person? We feel your pain, and we’re here to (hopefully) take it away. Our team of eco-friendly fabric experts have put together a sustainable fabrics glossary of our lovely knit and woven fabrics, giving you the down-low on what’s what in the eco friendly haberdashery world. 

Let’s start with our knit fabrics, shall we? You’ll find our woven fabrics in part two of our eco friendly fabrics glossary.

A Quick Introduction to the Glossary

Before we dive into it, we just wanted to explain a little about how our sustainable fabrics glossary works. For each knit fabric, we’ll be looking at the what, which refers to the fibre the fabric is made from, and the how, which will talk about the type of knit and strength of the fabric. We’ll also talk about what the fabric looks and feels like, as well as some common uses and care advice, giving you a good all-around knowledge of each material.

If you have any questions as you’re reading through, feel free to drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Now, let’s dive in.

Cotton Jersey

organic cotton jersey fabric in oat colour

Get that off-duty model look with a plain white tee made from Cotton Jersey. A high-quality, ethical fabric, this is a no-brainer for sewing your basics. 

Popular Properties: Just breathe. That’s what Cotton Jersey would tell you, anyway. With plenty of air flow, it’s a lovely choice for warm weather and a breathable option for your tops and t-shirts. It’s also hard-wearing and holds its shape for clothing that lasts. 

What: Our Cotton Jersey fabrics in this category is also known as Single Cotton Jersey. This is a fairly lightweight fabric (think your average t-shirt sort of weight) that won’t make you sweaty. Naturally sourced from sustainable cotton, it’s a fantastic choice for laid-back looks.

How: The knit of Cotton Jersey allows for decent stretch. Our organic cotton jersey fabric, for example, has 30% four-way stretch for a relaxed feel that’s going to be easy to slip on and off. 

Look & Feel: Cotton Jersey is a fairly smooth dressmaking fabric without too much texture. It’s basic but beautiful. Our sustainable cotton range is going to be lovely and soft against the skin and is free of nasty chemicals, making it ideal for our sensitive skin guys and gals. Easy-breezy – that’s Cotton Jersey.

Uses: Baby clothes and not-so-basic basics (t-shirts, long-sleeve tops, and your undies) are a good place to start. Once you’re on a first-name basis with our pal Cotton Jersey, why not try a curve-clinging maxi dress?

Care: Machine washable and a-okay in the tumble dryer. If you iron your cotton jersey fabric, do so on a low heat, and never ever dry clean.

Econyl Swim & Sport Lycra

econyl nylon fabric in black

Working up a sweat? We’ve got the goods to keep you fresh. Econyl Swim & Sport Lycra is designed to deal with all kinds of moisture, making it your go-to for gym gear and beach bikinis.

Popular Properties: Sweat-wicking and fast-drying, as well as being squat-proof to avoid embarrassing workout sessions (gym goers, you’ll know what we mean), this is an activewear overachiever. 

What: We have three types of workout/swim fabric: Econyl, Econyl Light, and Econyl Swimsuit Lining. Each option is just trash – recycled trash, that is. Regenerated nylon fibres from old rugs and plastic bottles have been transformed into this brand-spanking new and sustainable fabric.

How: If you’re doing squats at the gym or underwater yoga (it’s probably a thing, right?) you’ll be delighted to hear Econyl is super-duper stretchy. Econyl and Econyl Light have a four-way stretch of 70%, and Econyl Swimsuit Lining has a four-way stretch of 80%. 

Look & Feel: Econyl is as sleek and smooth as it is stretchy. It’s light on the skin and should fit like a glove for a barely-there feel, perfect for working out.

Uses: Anything that you’ll work up a sweat in can be sewn from Econyl: swimwear, leggings, gym gear, and sports bras. In a nutshell, active-wear.

Care: After a sweat-heavy gym session or salty swim in the sea, pop your Econyl in the washing machine and air dry. Best way to care for your handmade activewear and planet is to use a Guppy Bag when washing as it will prevent micro plastic shedding. 

Gem Pointelle Knit

organic cotton gem pointelle fabric in dune colour

Ready to look fine? This fine-knit Gem Pointelle has lots of texture but is still lightweight for sewing delicate, elegant garments.

Popular Properties: A breathable blend of open-knit and sustainable cotton with gorgeous diamond-shaped stitching for easy-breezy clothing.

What: Gem Pointelle Knit made from organic cotton (GOTS and OEKO-TEX certified for you ethical sewists.) is a knit fabric in a pointelle style with teeny-tiny holes. Super soft and kind to sensitive skin, it’s a wonderful choice for lightweight clothing. 

How: Honey, I shrunk the Pointelle Knit! This knit fabric has a shrinkage of 6% so bear that in mind when sewing (it’s best to give it a wash before you start cutting). It’s not super stretchy due to the delicate fine-knit but can still be pulled on and off over the head.

Look & Feel: Diamond-shaped holes give this knit a lacy look. Organic cotton is soft on the skin and breathable, making it an ideal eco-fabric for layering pieces.

Uses: Capsule wardrobe fans will love Gem Pointelle Knit for its versatile simplicity, making it ideal for your everyday basics. Get cosy with a cardi, layer up with vests, or turn your eco-friendly fabric into a long-sleeve T. 

Care: Pop your Gem Pointelle fabric into the washing machine and iron it on a low heat, but never ever tumble dry it or that 6% shrinkage will come into full effect.


ex-designer deadstock lace fabric in black

For the Lord and Lady of the Manor, we present… Lace. Oh-so elegant, this is a dressmaking fabric that’s decorative and delicate. It can be a little fiddly to work with but is always worth the extra fuss. 

Popular Properties: We can’t say that Lace is a practical gal, but she sure is pretty. Best known for its aesthetic properties, from the fine motifs to the risqué see-through nature that’s all the rage on the red carpet, we recommend keeping a few metres in your sustainable haberdashery for when you’re feeling fancy.

What: Lace can be made from silk, linen, cotton, or polyester. At Good Fabric, we have Ex-Designer Deadstock Guipure Lace which is intricately crafted from polyester thread and has no mesh, making it completely see-through. 

How: Our lace has a grand total of (drumroll please)… 0% stretch. It’s so delicate that you don’t want to pull and manipulate this dressmaking fabric too much, but what it lacks in stretch it makes up for in beauty. 

Look & Feel: Lace isn’t necessarily designed with comfort in mind, but is more of a decorative feature. It’s breathable and usually fairly soft on the skin, though the texture varies depending on the fibres used and the type of lace.

Uses: We recommend using lace with lining underneath for entire garments or for smaller sections like sleeves and collars. 

Care: Because Lace fabric is so delicate (gosh, how many times have we mentioned that?) we recommend hand-wash only unless specified otherwise. 

2×1 Rib Knits 

2x1 rib knit fabric in khaki green

Our 2×1 Rib Knits contain 5% elastane, making them almost as stretchy as your local yoga enthusiast. Designed with comfort at its core, we love a Rib Knit fabrics for Sunday afternoon loungewear. 

Popular Properties: Where do we start? Stretchy, comfortable, breathable, textured, and warm, our Cotton 2×1 Rib Knit is a must-have for your wardrobe.

What: Our 2×1 Rib Knit is made from super soft yet surprisingly sturdy cotton. It has the same lightweight and breathable properties as Single Cotton Jersey but with a little more weight and that distinctive ribbed texture.

How: Let’s talk about stretch – 2×1 Rib Knit Cotton has 80% two-way stretch. A pair of leggings made from this ethical fabric can be pulled on and off without losing shape while giving you a curve-hugging fit. The 2×1 rib refers to the defined ribbed texture of the dressmaking fabric, which adds to the elasticity of the material.

Look & Feel: Despite the ribbed surface, it’s still super soft next to the skin and one of the comfiest fabrics we stock.

Uses: Finish off sweatshirts with 2×1 Rib Knit cuffs, necklines, and waistbands, or kit yourself out in tight-fitting loungewear with leggings and a long-sleeve top. 2×1 Rib Knit is also perfect for little ones, making cosy baby grows and cute-as-a-button matching sets.

Care: Nobody wants loungewear and sweatshirts that are tricky to wash. Luckily, your Rib Knit can be popped into the washing machine and ironed. Just keep the fabric away from the tumble dryer to avoid any shrinkage.

4×4 Rib Knits

viscose rib knit fabric in white

Let’s kick things up a notch with this 4×4 Rib Knit. A more defined texture than the 2×1 Rib Knit with thicker ‘stripes’ throughout the fabric, it’s fantastic for adding a bit of life to your basics.

Popular Properties: Soft sustainable fabric makes this a winner for all our lounge-loving sewists out there. A soft drape makes it easy to work with and its lightweight breathability ensures comfort. 

What: We have two 4×4 Rib Knits available: one made from Tencel and one made from Viscose. Both are eco-friendly, renewable fibres that are known for their soft touch, durability, and breathability. If you’re looking for the comfiest ethical fabric around, you might have found it.

How: Oh yeah, there’s a lot of stretch here. As with our 2×1 knits, the 4×1 Rib Knit contains 5% elastane for plenty of movement. We reckon you could happily go from squats to downward dog without a hitch in a 4×4 Rib Knit fabric. 

Look & Feel: There’s plenty of drama from the wider rib texture of this eco-friendly fabric. Tencel and Viscose are both well-known for being smooth and soft, balancing out the ribbed design for garments that are breathable and light on the skin.

Uses: Get cosy in a ribbed turtle neck, head out for a night on the town in a long-sleeve bodysuit, or snuggle up for bed in a pair of soft leggings. It’s an incredibly versatile eco-friendly fabric that’ll suit everything that needs a little stretch and texture. 

Care: Wash at a slightly lower heat of 30℃, iron on a low heat, and avoid tumble drying.

Tubular Ribbing

organic cotton tubular ribbing in grey

A little stretch never goes amiss, does it? As the name kind of gives away, Tubular Ribbing comes knitted as one continuous tube and is another stretchy choice. Cut it open and you’ll be left with a 70cm wide length of 1×1 ribbed fabric, perfect for cuffs and waistbands. 

Popular Properties: Stretchy and finely textured, this is a ribbed fabric which is less dramatic than a 2×1 or 4×4. For garments that need some stretch but without the drama, this’ll be your go-to.

What: It’s sustainable, it’s breathable, and it’s gentle to sensitive skin – what more could a sewist ask for? The organic cotton is lovely and soft, too, for detailing that doesn’t compromise on comfort. 

How: For a ribbed dressmaking fabric, it’s fairly flat and wouldn’t be suitable for an entire garment. But with 70% two-way stretch, it works wonderfully for finishing touches.

Look & Feel: It’s a little thinner than other ribbed fabrics, so won’t provide quite as much warmth or cover (steer clear from leggings or risk some awkward glances.). 

Uses: Sleeve cuffs, waistbands, and necklines will work well in Tubular Ribbing.

Care: Machine wash and air dry – don’t tumble dry unless you want to shrink your fabric.

Sweatshirt/Brushed Sweat

organic cotton brushed sweat fabric in petrol

The ultimate fluffy, fuzzy, uber-cosy, eco-friendly fabric (try saying that five times fast 🙂 ), Brushed Sweat is a hug in fabric form. If you’re making sweatshirts, this choice is second to none. 

Popular Properties: Unlike polyester, our Organic Cotton Brushed Sweat dressmaking fabric will keep you warm while still being breathable. Look chic while you chill out in the OG loungewear material.

What: Our Sweatshirt fabric is made from 100% organic cotton, brushed on one side for a fluffy texture. Compared to other cottons (like Single Cotton Jersey), it’s a denser knit for a warmer, weightier fabric.

How: Organic Cotton Brushed Sweat has 40% two-way stretch, so it’s not crazy elastic. For clothing that needs a bit of shape around the edges, we recommend pairing it with a ribbed knit fabric for sleeves and necklines. 

Look & Feel: Although it’s pretty dense, there’s still plenty of airflow thanks to the 100% cotton fibres. Brushed Sweat will keep you toasty without becoming a sweaty betty, which is good news for everyone.

Uses: Think joggers, jumpers, hoodies, and even a laid-back dress if you’re so inclined. Ultimate comfy clothes should be made from the ultimate comfy fabric.

Care: After you’ve lounged to your heart’s content, pop your sweats in the washing machine for a spin and air-dry flat. Keep creases away by ironing on a low heat.


organic cotton interlock in blue stripe with camel colour background

Rev up your sewing machine: it’s time for Interlock. A double-knit that’s essentially two layers of Single Cotton Jersey, this gal is thick in all the right places. 

Popular Properties: Interlock is basically Single Jersey 2.0. You’ll love that it looks identical on both sides, it doesn’t curl like a regular Jersey Knit, and it’s incredibly easy to work with. 

What: Let’s get ethical. All of our Interlock Knit is 100% certified organic cotton, which is kind to the planet and to your skin. Absorbent, breathable, and as natural as Mother Nature herself intended, what’s not to love?

How: Interlock is like the love child of Rib Knit and Cotton Jersey. It’s got a lovely stretch and a good weight to it for easy draping, as well as second-to-none shape recovery. You can lunge all you want in a pair of Interlock leggings but you won’t see even a hint of sagging.

Look & Feel: Interlock keeps it tight in terms of the knit, which gives it one of the least-textured handles of all knitted ethical fabrics. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. 

Uses: Good stretch makes Interlock a go-to for soft activewear, like sports leggings and long-sleeve tops. It’s also a good choice for PJs, undies, hoodies, dresses, t-shirts, and baby clothes – so, yeah, pretty much anything.

Care: Wash on a low heat of 30℃ and avoid tumble drying where possible. 

French Terry

french terry fabric in oat colour

Oh la la! Not quite Interlock, not quite Brushed Sweat, French Terry sits somewhere in the middle. If you’re looking for cosiness, you’ve come to the right place.

Popular Properties: Super soft, warm, and durable, there are plenty of reasons to love French Terry – especially when it’s made from breathable organic cotton.

What: French Terry fabric is made from either 100% cotton, or a neat little blend of 96% cotton and 4% Spandex. Thanks to the teeny-tiny loops – visible on the back face of the fabric – French Terry provides plenty of room for air to circulate, making it breathable and insulating all at once. Oui oui, madame.

How: The addition of Spandex adds a comfy 50% four-way stretch. With a good weight of 250g/m2 and being a fairly thick fabric, it’s perfect for loungewear and casual basics.

Look & Feel: French Terry is a comfortable, soft fabric that’s perfect for cosying up in on a rainy day. The front of the fabric is smooth whilst the back is slightly textured. 

Use: Thicker than single cotton jersey or interlock, French Terry is ideal for loungewear designed for chillier weather. When you see frost on the ground, whip out a few metres of French Terry for some cosy joggers, sweatshirts, hoodies, and jackets.

Care: Easy-peasy, pop in the machine at a slightly cooler 30℃ and iron on a low heat.


organic cotton fleece fabric in ecru

Taking the gold medal for the cosiest fabric is… Fleece. As though straight off the back of a newborn lamb, Fleece is known for being the softest, fluffiest ethical fabric in the sewing world.

Popular Properties: When the cold wind blows (as Eminem would say), wrap up in Fleece. It’s soft, it’s warm, it’s cosy: if you want a cuddle from your jumper, always opt for Fleece.

What: Usually, Fleece is made from Polyester, but our eco-friendly sewists at Good Fabric were having none of that. Polyester Fleece causes major plastic-shedding problems that would leave us with a 24/7 guilty conscience. The only Fleece you’ll find in our online fabric shop is 100% cotton. 

How: Fleece isn’t known for its elasticity, with only 20% two-way stretch. It’s a weighty number, though, coming in at a hefty 315g/m2, which makes it ideal for warm-weather clothing.

Look & Feel: The fluffy, almost fur-like feel that Fleece is known for is down to it being brushed. When made from polyester, it can get a little scratchy and sweaty, but when made from breathable cotton it’s only ever soft and cosy. 

Uses: Anything in the world that you want to be super-duper soft. Seriously, coats, jumpers, jogging bottoms, dresses; you can make anything out of fleece. Just be ready to never want to take it off again.

Care: To keep your fleece nice and fluffy, we suggest washing at 30℃ max and sticking to a low temperature on your tumble dryer. On clear-sky days, always air dry outside instead.

Tencel Jersey

tencel jersey in slate blue

Want your clothes to feel like a second skin? Stick to Tencel Jersey for your dressmaking fabric of choice and enjoy the silky smooth, form-fitting comfort of your garments.

Popular Properties: Delightfully stretchy, with a gentle drape, and an eco-friendly fabric made from renewable wood pulp, it’s no wonder Tencel Jersey is our best selling sustainable fabric. 

What: Tencel is a sustainable fabric made of biodegradable, compostable wood pulp fibres – pretty cool, right? It’s got wonderful breathability and moisture-wicking abilities, as well as naturally preventing bacteria growth for fresh-smelling clothes all day long.

How: Let’s take a moment to appreciate the stretch of Tencel Jersey. With a whopping 70% four-way stretch, it’ll give a tight fit with plenty of movement.

Look & Feel: Don’t let the wood pulp fool you – Tencel Jersey is super soft. With an incredibly smooth handle and subtle shine, it’s kind of similar to silk and is just as lovely on the skin.

Uses: If we’re all made for something, then Tencel Jersey was made for activewear. But it doesn’t stop there. Try using Tencel Jersey to sew t-shirts, underwear, bodysuits, dresses and more.

Care: Machine wash and iron on a low heat, and avoid shrinkage by keeping your Tencel Jersey away from the tumble dryer.


Charcoal organic cotton terry towelling fabric

For all our eco-friendly sewing enthusiasts, this one is going to be a real hit. Organic Cotton Towelling fabric is the ideal addition to a zero-waste bathroom, creating everything you need to stay fresh while reducing waste.

Popular Properties: It almost goes without saying that Towelling is incredibly absorbent, but did you know that it’s also stretchy and has great durability?

What: Good Fabric Towelling is made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton. It soaks up liquids better than Spongebob and is a long-lasting fabric, making it a holy grail in your sustainable bathroom.

How: Towelling isn’t the stretchiest material, with only 40% two-way stretch, but it’s not stiff by any means. It’s weighty, thick, and the perfect thing to wrap yourself up in after a nice hot bath.

Look & Feel: Towelling has a textured appearance, with one side displaying obvious loops. When made from 100% organic cotton, it’s soft, cuddly, and ideal for use directly on the skin.

Uses: Create an eco-friendly bathroom full of organic cotton towels, reusable cotton pads, washcloths, and bath mats. 

Care: Pop your Towelling eco-friendly fabric in the washing machine on a cool 30℃ and avoid tumble drying to keep your bathroom goodies soft and snuggly.


pink velour fabric scrunched up

Even the name Velour sounds pretty luxurious, right? A bit like velvet, this ultra-plush sustainable fabric oozes opulence and is probably the poshest fabric on our list of knits.

Popular Properties: Touching Velour dressmaking fabric is like stroking a purring cat. It’s soft, elegant, and you won’t want to stop. 

What: Bring back a splash of old-school glamour in your wardrobe with our 100% Cotton velour. Durable and strong, Velour is the everyday choice for our sewists who like to make heads turn.

How: Velour isn’t the stretchiest of fabrics but it is weighty and thick. This makes it wonderful for home textiles, like cushion covers and throws, but we also love a pair of Velour jogging bottoms for those cosy evenings in or a Velour dress for a night on the town.

Look & Feel: Smooth and shiny, with a dash of texture that both looks and feels luxurious, Velour is Velvet’s little sister. It’s incredibly soft, making it ideal for items that’ll sit close to the skin or that you’ll want to snuggle up in.

Uses: Home furnishings and textiles, like sofas, blankets, pillowcases, and chair upholstery, alongside loungewear, dresses, and jackets.

Care: Machine wash at 30℃ and avoid tumble drying wherever possible to maintain the lustre and softness of Cotton Velour.

Shop Our Range of Knits

Now you’ve got the down-low on all the sustainable fabrics in the jersey world (well, almost), it’s time to start shopping online with confidence. Take a peek at our range of eco-friendly, ethical dressmaking fabrics and begin sewing a beautiful collection of clothing.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Part 2 of our Glossary Series which takes you through all of the woven fabrics. 

by Polina K

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