Muslin Fabric: Properties, Pricing & Sustainability (2023)

Muslin cloth texture background in neutral tones. Muslin cotton fabric of plain weave. Muslin is a soft, woven, 100-percent cotton multi-layer cloth popular for baby cloths and blankets

Muslin fabric is a lightweight fabric produced from cotton. Muslin typically comes in bleached and natural undyed material. It is believed to be named after the place it was invented, Mosul Kurdistan.

Other historians say muslin was invented in Dacca, Bangladesh. Early muslin was extraordinarily delicate and handwoven. Muslin has long been a popular fabric in hot and humid climates. 

Fabric Profile
Fabric Name: muslin
Synonyms: organdie, nainsook, gauze, mull, swiss
Fiber Type: cotton
Breathability: very breathable
Absorbency: highly absorbent
Characteristics: lightweight, breathable, dries quickly, absorbent
Washing Requirements: wash with like colors without bleach, tumble dry on low heat
Common Uses: dressmaking, quilting, cleaning, shirts, cheesemaking
Heat Press Temperature: Do not iron muslin

What is Muslin Fabric?

Muslin is a natural cotton fabric that is extremely breathable and lightweight. Muslin cotton is an ancient fabric that has been since at least the 1500s and probably much longer than that.

Muslin is best produced in humid temperatures as it helps the spinning process. Muslin is a loosely woven fabric and may have as few as 120 to 130 threads per inch.

Muslin has been widely used in hot and humid climates because natural muslin absorbs sweat quickly and dries very fast. Cotton muslin fabric comes in a variety of weights and colors. 

Muslin became popular in Europe in the 16th century because it was cheaper than linen or silk and much easier to care for.

Muslin cotton fabric is a highly versatile fabric. Besides being very popular for lightweight clothing, muslin is commonly used for quilting and is a popular fabric in cooking and cheesemaking.

Muslin vs. Cotton

Muslin is, in fact, a type of cotton, so comparing cotton vs. muslin is more a matter of comparing traditional cotton to muslin material. Both muslin and cotton are made from the cotton plant, but muslin may also have silk, linen, and other synthetic fibers woven in. 

Both cotton and muslin are easy to care for but are also prone to wrinkles and shrinking. Cotton and muslin are both breathable fabrics, but muslin has the edge and is better in hot or humid climates. 

Muslin fabric is usually unbleached, whereas you can find cotton in both bleached and unbleached forms. 

Muslin and cotton are excellent fabrics to use with your baby for bedding and clothes. Still, muslin is a better option if you don’t have air conditioning or live in a highly humid climate addition; muslin can prevent your baby from overheating as it promotes airflow and is lighter than traditional cotton.

Types of Muslin Fabric

There are several types of muslin fabric: swiss muslin, gauze muslin, mull muslin, and sheeting muslin. Swiss muslin is a crisp, sheer woven fabric. Gauze is a sheer type of muslin with an open weave. Mull muslin is made from 100% cotton. Sheeting muslin is sold in large sheets and is used for making blankets and sheets.

Swiss Muslin

Swiss muslin is often designated by raised dots and is often used to make women’s dresses, clothing, and curtains. Swiss muslin is an extraordinarily sheer and lightweight muslin fabric. 

Swiss muslin is sometimes called swiss dot fabric and is made from 100% cotton. Swiss muslin usually costs about $24 per yard and can be found in a variety of colors. Swiss muslin is very popular for making swaddling blankets and baby toys because of its softness and breathability.

Gauze Muslin

Gauze is an open weave muslin that is very soft and breathable. Gauze muslin is so thin it is often translucent. Because of its incredibly sheer nature, it is usually recommended that it is doubled or tripled up. 

Even though gauze muslin is incredibly thin, it is also very durable. As a result, Gauze linen is often used to make shirts, vests, skirts, and curtains. In addition, natural, unbleached gauze muslin is very affordable and typically costs under $6 per yard. 

Gauze muslin is sometimes 100% cotton, but it is sometimes made from silk or viscose.

Mull Muslin

Mull muslin is either 100% cotton or it is a cotton-silk blend. It is known for being exceptionally soft and silky to the touch. Mull is commonly used in couture fashion to add structure and support to garments. Designers also use mull to make prototypes of items. 

Mull muslin was very popular in the 18th century because of the Greco-roman style dresses woman wore and was imported from India. Mull muslin fabric by the yard is about $12.

Sheeting Muslin

The term sheeting muslin applies to muslin that is sold in large sheets or bolts of fabric. A bolt of fabric is typically anywhere from 20 to 100 years of fabric. Muslin material is usually purchased in bolts or sheets for use in theaters as backdrops to create costume patterns, quilting, and drapery. 

Sheets muslin comes in a range of widths. Standard widths are 36”, 38”, 45”, 48”, 60”, 90”, 108’ and 120”. Most sheeting muslin fabric color is either bleached or unbleached and is typically not dyed. 

Muslin pricing for sheeting muslin will vary depending on the width and how many yards the bolt holds. A bolt of 20 yards of muslin will cost, on average, anywhere from $65 to $120, depending on the muslin fabric quality. 

Muslin Fabric Characteristics

Muslin is an incredibly versatile fabric, and some muslin fabric properties that make such a widely used fabric are that it is lightweight, breathable, highly absorbent, and dries quickly. Muslin is also a reasonably inexpensive fabric making it possible for people to purchase it in large quantities. 

Muslin material was first created and used in hot and humid climates like the Middle East and India. This is because the humidity in the air assists in the spinning process, and the fabric is very comfortable to wear in these intense climates. 

Muslin clothing is also breathable and quickly wicks moisture away, another benefit in damp and warm environments. Muslin makes excellent swaddling blankets for those in warm climates who do not have access to air conditioning. 

Even though muslin is lightweight and breathable, one of the best muslin fabric qualities is it is highly durable and easy to wash. It is easily hand washed or machine washed and can be either line dried or tumbled dry on low. 

Downsides of Muslin Fabric

Muslin fabric has many upsides, but there are a few downsides to the fabric. Because 100% muslin is a cotton fabric, it wrinkles easily and doesn’t hold its shape well. One way to prevent wrinkling while washing is to lay items flat to dry, line dry them, or remove them from the dryer while still damp and line dry. 

Much of muslin is made to be flame resistant because of its use in theaters and photography; flame retardant muslin cannot be washed or loses its flame-resistant properties. 

Another downside to muslin is that you should not iron it, so you cannot remove those creases and lines with an iron despite its propensity to wrinkle. Instead, you will need to wash or steam out any wrinkles that pop up. 

Common Uses of Muslin Fabric

Muslin textiles are widely used in the arts for use as backdrops for theater and photography. Muslin fabric can be made flame-resistant, making it a popular choice for scenery and costumes. Muslin is also very popular in making cheese and working with herbs and spices in the cooking world as a substitute for cheesecloth. 

Another primary use of muslin is for quilting. Because of muslin fabric durability and breathability, the fabric is commonly used as the backing for quilts and blankets. 

Muslin is also used to make shirts, pants, skirts, and baby blankets because of its breathability and moisture-wicking properties. In addition to baby blankets, you can also use muslin to make a lightweight sleep sack. You can find colored muslin fabric in a variety of soft, baby-friendly hues. 

Because muslin fabric texture is naturally soft and becomes softer with multiple washings, it makes excellent face cloths or baby washcloths. 

Muslin Fabric in Cloth Diapers

Muslin is not usually the first fabric people think of when they think of washable diapers, but it is an excellent fabric option for diapers. Muslin is excellent at wicking moisture away; it is very absorbent and dries quickly; these muslin fabric properties make it a top fabric to use in diapering. 

You can use muslin diapers without an outer shell as a flat or a prefold, but if you want them to be fully waterproof, you will want to use an extra such as wool or PUL diaper cover. You can also use muslin as a diaper insert with an all-in-one or hybrid diaper to increase absorbency. 

Muslin is a naturally soft and durable fabric; these characteristics of muslin make it an excellent option to be close to your baby’s skin. And, because muslin wicks moisture away efficiently, it decreases the chance of diaper rash.

When looking for muslin cloth diapers, it is common to see them blended with birdseye cotton. If you are using muslin as a stand-alone diaper, you will need diaper pins or fasteners to secure the fabric in place. 

Muslin Fabric Pricing

Muslin fabric, like most fabrics, is typically sold by the yard. However, in some cases, if it is being used for large-scale projects, it is sold by the bolt. A bolt typically ranges from 20 yards to 100 yards of fabric. 

The muslin fabric price will also vary depending on the thickness of the cloth, if it is bleached, unbleached, or dyed, and whether or not it is high-quality muslin. After comparing prices with various retailers, on average unbleached muslin at 60” is about $4 per yard. 

Premium muslin or muslin used for quilting costs approximately $8 a yard for 45-48” width.  Printed, colored, or patterned muslin will cost even more at about $12 per yard for a width of 44” – 48”.

Flame retardant muslin is the most costly option. A yard of this type of fabric will cost between $15 and $25 with a width of only around 10”. White or unbleached flame-resistant muslin will cost less than black. However, flame retardant muslin is most often used for theater and photographers and not for home projects such as baby blankets or diapers. 

How is Muslin Fabric Made?

Making muslin requires that the cotton yarn be spun into extremely fine threads. Humid climates help with the spinning process because the warm and wet atmosphere allows the threads to stay loose and pliable.

On the other hand, colder and drier temperatures will make the yarn fibers brittle and liable to snap. That being said, if it was too hot and dry, the fibers could also snap, so finding the prefecture temperature was key when muslin is produced by hand. 

Once the fibers are spun, they are placed on looms. Traditionally muslin was made using handwoven looms, and remarkably, these looms could produce fabric with a 500 thread count.

Muslin today is still made similarly, although, in most places, machines do the spinning and weaving. There is also a synthetic version of muslin produced, but it is not as environmentally friendly as cotton-based fabric. 

Where is Muslin Fabric Manufactured?

Muslin fabric history is debated, but it is believed it either started in Indian or Iraq. In reality, it is possible it was being made at both places simultaneously since it is a favored material of warm and humid climates. 

Today muslin is produced worldwide but is still a favored fabric in India and the Middle East. 

One of the largest manufacturers of muslin in the United States is Chicago Canvas and Supply. They specialize in theatrical and photography backdrops and produce a variety of other textiles in addition to muslin.

Another large manufacturer of muslin is Jante Textile, located in Turkey. They sell both ready-made products such as bedding and bath towels as well as wholesale and promotional textiles. 

China is also another manufacturer of muslin, and many of their factories export products worldwide. 

Muslin Fabric Environmental Impact

Compared to synthetic textiles, muslin is a more environmentally friendly fabric. Because most muslin is made from cotton, it is a natural product, so it cuts down on water and air pollution from chemicals.

In addition, because muslin is a natural fabric, it can also be produced organically, leaving an even smaller carbon footprint. Because muslin is a natural fiber is biodegradable, another plus.

However, a  significant downside to cotton production is that it does erode soil and requires a lot of water to grow and produce. Organic cotton uses no harsh chemicals or pesticides; as a result, it uses 91% less water to grow. Organic cotton also produces less CO2 and creates less soil erosion. 

In addition to the environmental concerns of cotton production is the social impact has cotton farms are notorious for engaging in child labor in underdeveloped countries.

Some of these muslin fabric facts may not be pleasant to hear, but the good news is that we can lessen the environmental and social impact by purchasing organic and responsibly grown cotton. 

Muslin Fabric Certifications

Handmade muslin is eligible to receive a GI or geographical indication certification. To earn a GI certification, a product must be of agricultural, natural, or handmade nature and from a specific geographical location. Products that have a GI certification have an increased value and can sell for a higher price. 

Organic muslin can also receive the GOTS or Global Standard Organic Textile Certification. To earn the GOTS muslin, manufacturers must pass a series of audits that include everything from the initial processing stages to the end stages of manufacturing and distributing. 

Companies can also certify that they buy Fairtrade Cotton, which certifies that the cotton they purchase and use was grown under Fairtrade standards. Fairtrade products can trace their cotton all the way from the farmer to the finished product.

Fairtrade cotton ensures that farmers receive fair market value prices for their product and their employees work in more humane and equitable working conditions.

History of Muslin Fabric

The origins of muslin are debated. Some said it originated in Mosul, Iraq, giving the fabric its name. Other historians say it was first used in India, and yet others say Bangladesh. The reality is that the fabric, in one form or another, was likely being produced in multiple places around the world around the same time.

An early form of Muslin called Jamdani w made in India and was usually dyed bright and brilliant colors and used to make clothing. The majority of muslin was produced in India, but Arab and Chinese traders are believed to have taken the skills back to their home continents.

In the 17th century, muslin was introduced to Europe and became a popular fabric there as well. Both England and Scotland began manufacturing cotton to keep up with the demands of fashion.

Traditionally muslin was woven using handlooms specifically designed to create this delicate yet durable fabric. 

Muslin Fabric Alternatives

There are a couple of different options to use as alternatives to muslin. It is common to compare muslin vs. cheesecloth if you are cooking, but undyed-flannel also works as an excellent alternative to strain stocks, make cheese, or steep herbs.

When making clothing, hemp and linen, made from flax, are excellent natural alternatives, and both can be made organically. Linen and hemp are both breathable fabrics, and hemp, like muslin, becomes softer with repeated washes.

A plus side to both linen and hemp is that they have antimicrobial properties. In addition, hemp has excellent moisture-wicking properties, and linen is considered more eco-friendly than muslin.

Linen and hemp are great choices when it comes to making blankets and cloth diapers. Hemp makes a great choice for cloth diapers because it is so absorbent, and as mentioned before, it is excellent at wicking moisture away. 


What kind of fabric is muslin?

Muslin is a fabric made from cotton that traditionally was spun and woven by hand into a lightweight and durable fabric.

What is muslin fabric used for?

Muslin fabric is used for various things, including clothing, diapers, baby blankets, photographic backgrounds, and theatrical productions.

What is the difference between cotton and muslin?

Muslin is made from cotton, but the spinning and weaving process makes it different from traditional cotton. Muslin is thinner and more breathable than traditional cotton.

Is muslin fabric suitable for summer?

Muslin is an excellent fabric for summer because it is breathable, moisture-wicking, and lightweight.

Does muslin shrink when washed?

Muslin does have the propensity to shrink when washed, especially when dried in the dryer. Muslin is best when line dried.

Is muslin fabric durable?

Muslin fabric is a highly durable fabric. Its durability is what makes it a great option for clothing. 

Is muslin good for pajamas?

Muslin is an excellent choice for pajamas, mainly if you live in a warm and humid climate because it is so breathable and lightweight.

Are muslin and Mulmul the same?

Mulmul is a brand of muslin that is produced in India. It is a sheer, delicate, soft, 100% cotton muslin fabric.

Is muslin fabric tightly woven?

No, muslin is a loosely woven fabric. The humid climate that it was traditionally produced in helped keep the fibers loose and soft.

Is muslin fabric 100% cotton?

Some muslin is 100% cotton. Other types of muslin are sometimes blended with birdseye cotton, silk, or polyester.

Is muslin cloth suitable for the face?

Muslin is an excellent fabric for the face because it is so soft and durable. It can also be used as baby washcloths.

Can you breathe through muslin?

Muslin is a highly breathable fabric. Many people have used muslin to make masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is it called muslin?

It is believed to be called muslin because it may have originated from Mosul, Iraq.

Is muslin the same as quilters cotton? 

Muslin and quilters cotton are different fabrics, although people often use muslin for quilting.

What is the difference between bleached and unbleached muslin?

Bleached muslin is muslin that has been bleached white from its natural state. Unbleached muslin is usually off-white.

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