Glossary: Cotton Sateen

Sateen is a fabric made from cotton, a natural fiber. For more information, see the entry Glossary: Cotton Fiber. Sateen refers to a particular type of weave with long floating yarns which produce a shiny surface, similar to satin-weave. Sateen is typically, though not always, cotton. Sometimes, stretch cotton sateen, with a small spandex content, is also available, but this is not an interchangeable fabric and has different applications from 100% cotton sateen. Sateen currently available is often rather thin, as it is generally intended for shirting use.

For more information on the satin weave, see the entry on silk satin.

Definitions of sateen and satin from a variety of print resources, each of which contains further information:

On the topic of “Weaves” on page 16, it states that “Satin is both a weave structure and the name of a fabric. Satin weaves are much like twill weaves. However, the warp yarns float over from four to as many as twelve weft yarns, and the offset of each successive pick is different, so that no diagonal ridge is formed. Sateen is like satin, except that the weft yarn forms the float, rather than the warp. Sateen is generally woven with cotton. Satin weaves are less durable than other weaves, because the long floats of yarn are easily abraded, and they also tend to pick up and hold dirt. For this reason, and because of the elegant luster that the satin weave creates, these fabrics tend to be used for more formal purposes–evening clothes, or high quality table linen.”

  • Butterick Publishing Company, The. Vogue Sewing. Revised edition. New York: The Butterick Publishing Company, 2000.

Page 41: “Satin weave has a characteristic luxurious shine. The surface is composed of floats, or warp yarns, which may pass over many filling yarns before being caught under one. The surface yarns, usually of filament fibers, intersect cross threads at points randomly spaced so the smooth texture appears unbroken. A variation called sateen has similar surface floats, but they run in the filling direction and are usually of a spun staple yarn.”

On page 179, “sateen” is defined as “cotton or wool fabric with a glossy, satin-like surface, often used for linings and corsets” while “satin” is defined as “thick, close textured silk fabric with the warp threads completely covering the weft threads,thus producing a glossy surface.” Further types of satin, including thinner varieties, are also defined on the same page, including “satinet,” which is “thin or imitation satin.”

On page 339, “sateen” is defined as “An irregular twill weave in which the satin effect is produced by predominant weft threads. Sateen often refers to a cotton material.” On pages 339-340, “satin” is defined in several quotes from historical sources, similar to previous definitions listed on this page. It is also clarified, on page 340, that “The warp threads are ordinarily much finer than the weft threads and more numerous to the square inch so that they conceal the weft and make an unbroken, smooth, and lustrous surface.”

Online Resources:

For more information about an individual fiber, fabric, or other material, select it on the right side menu for “Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials.” This will bring up all entries which have that tag, including (in most cases) a Glossary post like this one, which will offer a definition of that fiber, fabric, or material, and sometimes also offer useful links to outside sources on working with it. For more general information, visit the core entry for the Glossary: Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials. For a directory of all textile glossary posts, go to the Glossary Table of Contents.

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