What is the Difference Between Chambray and Denim
What is the Difference Between Chambray and Denim

The Difference Between Chambray and Denim

The Difference Between Chambray and Denim

Usually, chambray and denim are two fabrics that most people are confused of, when, in reality, they not exactly the same. Chambray is a plain weave fabric that is woven using a colored yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft. Although denim is also made with a colored yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft, it is woven, however, in a twill construction.

The warp and weft threads of this fabric alternate one over the other, which is unlike denim’s warp thread goes over two threads in the weft before going under one. Normally, a lighter color to the underside of a denim fabric can be seen, whereas the underside of a chambray fabric appears much more similar to its face side.

a sample of chambray fabric

(Picture from www.pinterest.com)

An Overview of Two Fabrics

Obviously, the denim that people are fond and most familiar with is the same kind used to make jeans or 90’s style Jean Jackets. This denim is commonly quite heavy, and, more often than not, wouldn’t be fit for comfortable shirts.

Both of these fabrics can be found in whether heavy or light weight styles. For something casual and more durable and rugged, the heavier versions are the best choice; while the higher thread count versions of denim are far more thinner (and even light weight) and appear to be more “dressed up” than lower thread count versions.

On the other hand, lighter weight chambray fabrics can either be dressy or casual appeal. If some are woven with tighter weave and can have a nice shine and/or dress up nicely, others will be more of quite noticeable fabric slub and a looser, gauzier weave – one that is apt for casual shirting.

a denim fabric

(Picture from www.papercloth.com)

Washed Denim and Chambray Shirts

There are times that a shirt is sewn using an indigo dyed denim or chambray fabric that has yet to be completed. This “raw” fabric won’t completely colorfast in one way or another. And when the shirt is totally sewn together, a special garment washing processed is used to achieve a slight fading at the seams. This makes the color colorfast. Although such process has yet to be feasible for custom made dress shirts, a company called Proper Cloth was able to produce the first ever custom fit washed denim shirt.


Alvin is a fashion and lifestyle writer who has recently earned interest in sewing his own clothes. Writing for Sewing Ideas gives him another avenue to express his experiences and learning in his sewing journey.

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