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Discovering Two New Fabric Options!

by Beth Cooper
Barkcloth in a vintage print

Let’s talk about a couple of types of fabric that you may not be familiar with. Not every project calls for 100% cotton and it’s good to know about different types of fabric, because there are a lot more options than what you may think! The fabric industry produces everything from polyester to cotton to satin to chenille and beyond.

What is PUL Fabric??

What do you know about PUL fabrics? I’m going to be honest. I didn’t know much about them until recently. I saw some on Missouri Star Quilt Company’s website and had to learn more. What are they? And what do you use them for? Well, I learned they are Polyurethane Laminated Fabric (PUL) and it is a wonderful addition to the world of fabric.

Blue PUL fabric. Shop PUL fabric here.

PUL Fabric is soft, flexible, and waterproof. It is the perfect fabric to make things like cloth diapers, training pants, nursing pads, wet bags, and car seat protectors. It also works great for outdoor fabric projects. It has great splash-resistance, all while being waterproof and breathable.

PUL fabric is machine-washable. Yay! (Who has time for hand washing, anyway?) It is not recommended to use harsh stain removers, vinegar, or bleach on this fabric though. You can tumble dry on low or lay your items flat to dry.

What is Barkcloth??

I was recently intrigued by another type of fabric, as well. This one was unfamiliar to me, as well. Or at least the name was. I realized later that I had worked with it at one point on a project years ago, but just didn’t realize it had a name. I am talking about Barkcloth Fabric. Have you used it before? Do you know what it is?

Barkcloth fabric is created to emulate the bumpy texture of tree bark. Barkcloth has been a favorite of apparel sewists for ages now and is now crossing over into the quilting world. It is a medium to heavy-weight fabric that has a visible weave. The bumpy texture has a nubby feeling that feels lovely (at least to me anyway!).

An example of Barkcloth. This fabric is available here.

Cotton barkcloth fabric became popular between 1940 and 1960 in tropical, abstract, atomic, and boomerang prints. These barkcloth fabric vintage prints are associated with mid-century modern design. Some manufacturers of this era called their barkcloth “rhino fabric” because of the rough, nubby texture of their fabric.

So, what do you use Barkcloth for? Well, if you dream it, you can do it with Barkcloth. It is most frequently used for home decor items, like pillows and curtains. You can also use it for totes and bags, apparel, accessories, and even quilt blocks!

This is also Barkcloth. These vintage prints are so cool!
Find them here.

So now you know a bit more about two types of fabric that you may not have sewn with before. (But I bet now you are as intrigued as me and are ready to start a new project!) The wonderful thing about sewing is that there is always more to learn! If you like reading about fabric types, check out more articles on that subject here on Nancy’s Notions.

Happy sewing!

‘Til next time!


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1 month ago

PUL is great for dog beds. I make a zippered cover for the foam base. Have not had to remove to wash the PUL layer (dirt stays in the outer cover) but have taken off to air the foam in the sun. Also used PUL for shower caps and added machine embroidery.

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