Lustrous Madras fabric : A Complete Guide

by | Jul 10, 2024

Last Summer, I went to my cousin’s bachelor party. That time, they came up with the theme of wearing shorts made with Madras fabric.

Oh God! I can’t forget the party we had that night, all thanks to our customized Madras shorts.

After coming back from the wedding, I googled and learned more about the Madras fabric. This fabric is not just any other cotton. Rather it holds the cultural heritage of the African Diaspora, holds the history, etc.

As a member of Muslin Dhaka, I get help from all my colleagues, fabric experts, and fashion designers. Together, we have more than 37 years of experience in fabric and fashion.

Here, I share all our experience & wisdom with you. Let’s know in-depth details of Madras fabric 🙂 

What is Madras Cotton?

Right after drinking an organic energy drink, the way you feel relieved, Madras Cotton is just like that. I’m not fluffing! Madras cotton ensures airness and breathability. Plus, its vibrancy and colorfulness are a cherry on top!

I cannot imagine my summer without Madras fabric. It’s lightweight, hand-woven 100 percent cotton fabric with a GSM of 90-110.  A true Madras is yarn-dyed plaids styled and wearable everywhere in the world now!

What Is Madras Cotton Made Of?

Well, Madras cotton is a detailed plaid or checkered pattern type of cotton fabric. This cloth is prepared with semi-permanent vegetable dyes which ensure a soft, blended color pattern.

Firstly, the raw cotton is harvested and then the threads are woven by short-staple cotton fiber. The fibers are created of carded cotton not combed. The cotton yarn was dyed using natural vegetable dyes. 

That’s why this cotton has a vibrancy range. After that, weavers weave delicately to form these particular plaid patterns.

Even this Madras fabric texture has bumps that look like thick spots in the yarn. It is formed with short fibers which cannot be combed through. This pattern is present on both sides of the fabric. That’s why Madras cotton has a texture.

Originally Madras Cotton was handwoven. But in the contemporary world most are machine-woven. In cotton fiber, it is woven in a plain weave style. Madras cotton is used to prepare shirts, shorts, curtains, bed covers, etc. 

At a Glance

Industrial NameMadras fabric
Other NamesPlaid, madras and tartan
ConstructionOrganic cotton fibers are weaved in a plain style. But the texture has some bumps which are formed so that it cannot be combed through
Weight120-220 GSM or more
ColorCan come with various prints or dyes
Moisture AbsorbanceMedium
StretchCan be stretched
Heat InsulationMedium
Bigger exporter60% japan 
UsagePants, shorts, lungi, dresses, ties, bow ties, and shirts etc.

Looking Back To The Journey Of Madras Cotton

Madras cotton started its journey in the city of Madras, now known as Chennai, in southeastern India. During the 17th century, British traders of the East India Company noticed the local handwoven cotton textiles in Madras.

Upon noticing the fabric’s lightweight and airness, the British exported it to Europe. Madras cotton was in demand for the union with Scottish impact on Indian textile production in the 19th century.

At that time, Madras cotton demand increased rapidly as it was a perfect fit for the hot summer season. With the expansion of the British empire, Madras fabric spread worldwide & become popular. 

This distinctive fabric has spread its hallmark. And enhanced Indian artistry and culture in international markets.

Why Is Madras A Luxury Fabric nowadays?

Madras Fabric has entered our current trend of fashion once again even in regular wear! The journey started with the French Caribbean. Then in 2017, another fashion and design contest named Madrastique celebrated Madras fabric. Where models wore formal, casual wear made of Madras.

Back in 2019, a bill was passed by the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was stated that some countries of the Caribbean would have specific madras that would represent them. 

For example, in Jamaica, the green madras are their specific madras. Meanwhile, in Martinique, yellow and red happen to be the predominant colors.

Madras fabric is historically handwoven by the Indian woman. The process was very meticulous. So naturally it was sold at a higher price than regular fabric. Nowadays, the fabric is made by machine. But the increasing demand & interest of international fashion brands, it is widely regarded as a luxury fabric. In USA, some Madras consider casual American luxury!

( Fun fact: Do you know? During the pandemic, new madras masks were launched. Even different earrings made with madras textiles are in high demand for modern-day outfits.)

Properties Of Madras Fabric

What Are Properties Of Madras Fabric?

Madras fabric has multiple properties which demands you to put it on your next purchase! Well, let’s start with the most important one which is it being the lightweight cloth.

That’s why it’s a perfect choice for summer. Madras fabric is 100% cotton and ensures that your outfit gives you comfort and breathability in the scorching heat.

Not only that, you get a unique texture with Madras fabric. You cannot easily comb through its textured feeling outfit in comparison to any other cotton.

Moving on, with madras fabric you get different patterns and colors induced. If you want to look colorful and vibrant, what can be better than madras fabric? 

It has vibrant plaids, checks, and stripes. You get bold and contrasting colors in a wide range of colors.

You can simply wear this bright colors and patterns-filled madras fabric for a casual and relaxed look!

And here comes the most important property which is it is soft and smooth. As the weaving process is simply done with natural fibers it remains comfortable against the skin.

In general, Madras fabric is a vibrant, lightweight, and breathable option for spring and summer clothing. The fabric has a distinctive texture and relaxed appearance. 

It is often favored for garments such as shirts, dresses, slacks, and even accessories.

What Are The Types Of Madras Fabric?

Madras Fabric doesn’t have types depending on the base material, but some differences are created based on construction and design. So here let’s look at them-

Starting with the construction, madras fabric exists as the regular cotton and seersucker madras too. So the regular one is the classic one which is formed with 100% cotton with plain weaving. You get breathability and comfort with the classic one.

Moreover, the seersucker Madras has a combination of either plaid or check patterns with a puckered texture of seersucker. You get a dimension with this seersucker Madras.

Moving on, Madras fabric has design variations such as plaid, striped, or patchwork. Plaid is the most popular one. It features vibrancy and contrast in the plaid patterns. 

You will find them different from a completely symmetrical tartan as it has irregular patterns. Other than that, the striped madras gives you a slightly subtle look other than the bold plaids. 

And the patchwork madras gives a playful twist. As it is made after taking scraps of different plaid Madras fabric and sewn together to form a mix of different patterns.

However, the Madras fabric is traditionally prepared with vegetable dyes. To make sure of a unique, blended color effect. But now the modern madras is prepared with colorfast dyes.

Madras Fabric & Sustainability

Organic Madras Fabric And Sustainability

We all know that the preparation of clothes damages the environment, right? So, just to remain fashionable, we cannot destroy our earth. 

That’s why it is very important to look after whether the fabric that we are wearing is either organic or not and how sustainable it is! 

So, Madras fabric is prepared with natural fiber which is organic cotton. A white fibrous substance that is prepared from seed makes it easily biodegradable. Organic cotton takes about one week to 5 months to degrade fully. 

Madras fabric doesn’t harm the environment much. As it is prepared with natural cotton fiber, which uses less water than any non-organic or synthetic fiber. 

Moreover, organic cotton does not harm the ecosystem too much though it consumes huge amounts of water. It improves soil quality in a  sustainable way too.

Moreover, Madras fabric is safe and vegan-friendly. No animal is harmed by making this awesome fabric. 

Why is Madras On Demand? Benefits And Drawbacks

Well well, Madras Fabric is in high demand, that’s what I’ve been just saying right? This comes with some drawbacks too, unfortunately. However, let’s look at them both.

Beginning with the benefits, with Madras fabric you will enjoy a bigger chance of customization. You can select the exact pattern for instance the plaid, stripe, etc, and the colors and style you prefer.

Moreover, the fittings and uniqueness that come with this Madras fabric are unimaginable.

Other than these, the drawback with Madras fabric is dimensional stability. It can bleed for semi permanent dye. The cost is slightly higher when you custom-made the dress.

What Are The Different Uses Of Madras Fabric?

Madras has different uses, from daily wear to home decor. You can find it in almost every wear! This lightweight cotton fabric which has a patterned texture and design is perfect for summer clothing. Such as pants, shorts, lungi, dresses, etc.

In addition to that, people wear madras fabric customized ties, bow ties, and shirts. You can pair it up with muted colors to give it a strong design. You can wear it in both summer wear and formal wear too.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned beforehand, the fabric can be used for home decor, too. Such as in mats, napkins, pillow covers, etc. And just like in the upper section, I have mentioned that some use it as an accessory too for home decoration.

How To Sew Madras Fabric? Pro Tips

Sewing cotton fabric is comparatively easier. So pure Madras cotton gives you relief too. That you can sew it easily.

You just need to grab your sewing essentials to make the work more easy and convenient. One thing you should keep in mind is that you always wash your Madras before sewing.

For sewing, you can use a needle that is either 60/8 or 70/10 sharp. The sewing threads should be either cotton or polyester.

How To Find The Authentic Luxury Madras Fabric?

Well, you can understand the authenticity of Madras as both sides of the fabric will have identical patterns. Other than that, the fabric will be soft and have enough breathability.

You can check the fabric information as well with certifications.

How To Wear Madras: Fashion Guide?

Madras fabric can be worn as shorts, shirts, and jackets too. So, with madras fabric what you can always do is keep-

  • A solid color tie
  • A solid color shirt
  • A solid polo shirt

Madras fabric is already so vibrant if you keep your other clothes with a solid color. Pair it up with them you’ll notice that the outfit will be perfect for both casual and formal wear.

Such as, if you are wearing shorts made of Madras fabric, then pair it up with any solid polo shirt. It will enhance your entire look and give you the perfect casual look.

What Are The Alternatives To Madras Fabric?

There are some alternatives to Madras Textile. Those share some qualities of this awesome fabric. 

Here are some interesting alternatives:

For summer, you can wear seersucker fabric. Just like Madras fabric it is lightweight cotton fabric too. It has a puckered texture that ensures air circulation and breathability.

Other than that, in seersucker fabric, you get a plaid pattern too similar to Madras. Except for this one, linen can be a great alternative to Madras fabric. It is a natural fiber that comes in solid colors and patterned options too.

You can also look for Poplin. It is also smooth and is tightly woven cotton fabric. Even a polyester blend can be a good option too. Though it is not as breathable, still make sure that you get a wrinkle-less dress.

Ultimately, the optimal choice will be dependent upon the specific aspects of 

Madras that you wish to replicate. Choose seersucker or linen if you want adequate breathability and a cool temperature.

Poplin, polyester blend, and gingham each provide distinct aesthetics if you desire a unique style.

How to care Madras fabric?

How To Take Care Of Madras?

Madras cotton needs less care in terms of washing, drying, or ironing. It is easy to wash. You can iron it without any hassle.

Starting with the washing of Madras fabric. You can use any gentle detergent and cold water. You can either wash it by hand or in the machine. Make sure the machine is set in a delicate cycle. 

Even you can use a fabric softener to make sure that the fabric gives you a softer and gentler feeling in the skin.

To dry the clothes, simply try to hang them outside where the sunlight is not direct. Moreover, to iron the cloth, fold the cloth on the opposite side and press the fabric. Make sure the heat setting is low so that the cloth does not get destroyed easily.

Madras Fabric By The Yard

The selling price of Madras cotton starts from $5 per yard. But the high-end Madras fabric can cost even $25 or higher per yard.

Madras fabric available on Etsy varies in price. Ranging from a few dollars for a little piece to over $20 per yard for designer or vintage madras.

5 Best Madras Brand

To make your hunting game easier, I’m here! To help you find the authentic Madras fabric. Here are multiple brands of Madras fabric that have created an influential market worldwide. You can purchase from the 5 best Madras fabric brands mentioned down below-

Where To Buy Madras Fabric?

To buy the best madras , Just visit the websites & order :

  1. Amazon
  2. Etsy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)

  1. Do Madras shirts shrink?

Madras textiles tend to shrink by a maximum of 10% when washed. Hence, it is necessary to Wash the clothing before production. 

      2. Is Madras still in style?

Madras fabric is always fashionable, making it a wise investment in the field of fashion. 


Whenever you’re in dire need to wear something exceptional in style that should be comfortable too. Madras made outfits can be the best option for one! Not only that, this fabric is durable, sustainable, and most importantly always in style.

Wear the best Madras outfit to enjoy the comforts in the scorching heat!

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!


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