Wide width fabrics are, quite simply, those fabrics that measure wider across than “standard” widths. In most fabric stores, for example, a width of a fabric intended for crafting or clothing purposes will measure between 112cm and 140cm. Fabric used in decorating (e.g., as upholstery for furniture or as curtains) may come in widths as great as 150cm. Finding fabrics wider than that, however, can be a challenge, particularly if a person only wants to buy a small amount.
Most common wide fabrics for interior design, curtains, window decor and drapery are around 290cm, 300cm or 310cm. Wider widths of up to 500cm can be achieved for extra-large banners, advertising and media these types of wide formats are used a lot on construction sites to cover buildings with printed advertisements whilst been renovated, even still this is not normally a fabric construction but rather a very fine mesh or net type fabric to allow for high winds to pass through.
To achieve 500cm widths would require specialist wide format textile machines for weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing and fabric stenter, this can be in very impractical and not very cost effective due to setup costs, production costs and transportation etc., a way round to keep the cost down would be to join a standard of the shelf maximum width fabric or netting, this common method achieves even greater widths than 500cm.
Bed sheets are typically made with wide width fabric, but most sheet manufacturers have their cloth specially woven to suit their purposes. Because of this, home crafters interested in making projects that require wider fabric (home-made bed sheets) may have difficulty tracking down fabric wide enough to suit their needs.
Quilts and bedspreads made from a single piece of fabric use wide width fabric for both the outer cloths and the batting. Because of these special applications, fabrics intended specifically for quilting are often produced in wider widths up to 274cm across for coverings intended for king size beds. Unfortunately, quilting fabrics tend to be slightly rougher than bed sheets, making quilting fabrics largely unsuitable for other applications.
Before modern industrial weaving techniques made it possible to produce wide width fabrics easily, it was common for individuals to stitch multiple pieces of fabric together to create the widths they needed. When making bed sheets, sewers had to master special stitching techniques that prevented the seam down the middle of the sheets from making the fabric stand out in a lump.
While the exact definition of “wide width” depends on the type of fabric being measured, many different types of fabric are sold in wider widths. Suede, cotton, nylon mesh, polyester, and blended fabrics are all available in standard and wider widths. Many online fabric retailers, however, sell primarily to fabric vendors, making their merchandise out of the reach of many casual crafters.
To track down a particular type of wide width fabric, sewers and crafters may want to start by calling a local fabric store to ask for recommendations. If a store does not carry wide width fabrics, a clerk may be able to recommend retailers or vendors who do.
For certain projects, bed sheets purchased at second-hand stores can serve as wide width fabric when it cannot be found elsewhere.