Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Shariful Alam

Some of us think that Oxford fabric was invented at the University of Oxford. But actually, the name was given by the college’s name as a marketing policy. Since its creation, oxford fabric has become one of the best shirting fabrics for sheer comfort and optimal sustainability. 

In this article, Team Muslin Dhaka will discuss everything about a type of cotton fabric that we use now and then, Oxford Fabric!

Now, let’s get straight into the wholesome tale of Oxford fabric. 

What Is Oxford Fabric?

Mainly, cotton oxford is a clothing material. But nowadays, it is used in making accessories and utilities. 

You can find both 100% cotton and synthetic fibers (polyester, rayon, viscose, etc.) in oxford fabrics. However, there are some cotton blend oxford fabrics that you can use for both durability and comfort. 

Industrial NameOxford fabric
OriginScotland (During the 19th century)
Other NamesOxford cotton, shirting fabric, shirting oxford, Cotton oxford fabric, etc.  
ConstructionOrganic cotton yarns go into the basket weaving to create soft and textured oxford textiles.
Weight120-200 GSM approx.
ColorComes in light-color plain dyes 
AirflowBreathable
Moisture Absorbance1.5 times slower than thin cotton fabrics
WeavingBasketweave
StretchVery low (in the case of cotton oxford)
Heat InsulationModerate
Shrinkage RatioLess than 7%
UsageClothing, undergarments, Home decor, accessories, etc. 

 

History of oxford fabric

A Brief History of Oxford Fabric

The 200-year-old Oxford fabric was invented in Scotland. 

During the mid-18th century, Scotland and the former British Empire made a pact for efficient textile production. From the 19th century, Scotland became the center of European textile production. 

At that time, A local industry invented four unique types of woven cotton fabric: Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, and Harvard. All the names were taken from England’s prestigious schools of research. It was a great marketing strategy. 

But sadly, only Oxford fabric (made of basket weaving) got consumers’ attention. The properties of this fabric matched the criteria for making ideal formal shirts across the US and Europe. Thus, this fabrics were unofficially recognized as shirting fabric. 

From the beginning, this fabrics were at reasonable prices. So, manufacturers made different types of Oxford fabrics by finishing and dyeing. But the use of synthetic materials for making Oxford clothes is pretty new. 

How are Oxford Fabrics Made?

How are Oxford Fabrics Made?

Here is the universal method to create Oxford as a traditional or pinpoint fabric. 

Weaving

Oxford fabrics are made in the usual ways. 

100% cotton yarns are collected first. With the help of weaving machines create oxford by using basket weaving in general. 

Calendering

After that, a special process known as calendering is required. In calendering, machines smoothen and press the fabric. It makes Oxford thin, dense, and soft. Good enough for shirting. 

Dyeing

The calendered fabric then gets dyed. But sometimes, fabrics are dyed before weaving. 

Finishing and production

Finally, oxford fabrics are ready for production. A few rich types of Oxford can have prewashing treatment before packaging. 

Special Note:

  • Calendering: In the textile industry, there are machines with rollers called calendars. These rollers press freshly made fabrics to compress the construction and smooth texture. 
  • Basketweave: it is a type of plain weave where multiple warps and wefts overlap each other in a singular criss-cross pattern. 

Types of Oxford Fabric

Mainly, there are 3 types of oxford fabric in the market. They are:

  • Traditional Oxford

Traditional oxford fabrics have thicker cotton yarns. Classic Oxford don’t go through calendaring often. Resulting in a coarse texture but a soft feel. 

The construction of traditional oxford is 100X80 (EPIXPPI) or below. These fabrics are thick and heavy. But good for regular clothing because of its durability.

  • Pinpoint Oxford

Pinpoint Oxford fabrics are the better versions of classic Oxford. Because of the calendering process, the fabric gets a smooth finish. 

Pinpoint sheets have almost the same among of warp and weft counts. For example: 75X75. Because of the “square” construction, the fabric tends to shrink or wrinkle less. 

  • Royal Oxford

Royal oxford have the highest EPIXPPI equation. But still, it is the softest and most elegant finish. 

Because of using finer yarns, the fabric remains dense but not heavy. You can find royal oxford fabric only in luxury clothing. 

Cotton Oxford Fabric Characteristics

Cotton Oxford Fabric Characteristics

Here are the key characteristics of oxford fabrics from our research.

Construction

To test the fabric, we collected a sample of 100% cotton oxford. The construction of the sample was 40+40*20/2/100*44. And the weight was around 170 GSM. The weaving was also basketweave. 

Finishing

The finishing isn’t 100% smooth. It’s a bit coarse. When you rub two oxford sheets with each other, you’ll hear a small and rough sound from friction. Despite having an uneven finish, the fabric tends to slip from the body. 

Softness

This fabric is soft. It can adapt to your body posture easily. You can fold an oxford sheet and turn it into a small shape. Even if you have rashes or allergies, the pure cotton material will treat your skin gently. 

But here’s a catch. The fabric might get softened after several uses and washes. So, you can wear oxford shirts for a long time. 

Breathability

Oxford is comfortable to wear. But not completely breathable. If you put this in front of a running table fan, you’ll see the fabric is blocking 50% of the wind and letting the rest of the 50% pass through. 

Stretch

As said earlier, the basketweave is the core of this fabric. So, the tighter basket weave is denser than gauze, cotton muslin, or calico. That’s why it provides a very low amount of stretch. 

Moisture Absorbance

Usual cotton clothing fabrics can absorb moisture instantly after coming in contact. But oxford takes around a quarter minute to get wet if you sprinkle a few drops of water. 

Oxford fabric moisture test

So, you need to soak an oxford dress for quite some time in a detergent mixture to clean it. 

Yarn Density

While cross checking the EPI and PPI, we found that the numbers were 100 and 44 respectively. Weft threads contain two fine cotton yarn twisted to make strong single threads. So, the construction naturally becomes dense and tight.

The air pockets between the warps and wefts are very small. Nearly invisible in your bare eyes. 

Thickness

Despite featuring a high amount of warp and weft counts, Oxford Textile is as thin as other dressing fabrics. It is because of the calendering process. The thickness of the fabric mainly depends on how much calendering press was given at the factory. 

Transparency

It is already understandable that oxford shirting fabric isn’t transparent. Only 35% direct sunlight can pass through a classic or pinpoint oxford. 

oxford fabric light transfer test

Heat regulation

A unique feature of this fabric is it feels both heat-insulative and regulative

We already said that Oxford is almost half-breathable. So, we can also consider that a cotton oxford sheet can regulate half of your body temperature to keep you cool and dry. Along with that, it retains the rest of your body heat to feel cozy. 

Shrinkage

The chance of oxford yarns shrinking is not even 1 out of 10 times. Most cotton yarns come pre-shrunk for oxford textile. 

But there’s always a chance of wrinkling if the difference between EPI and PPI remains high. In this case, our test sheet is tightly woven to eliminate any chance of wrinkling. 

Durability

Oxford fabric is the most durable shirting fabric everyone can afford. The reasons are:

  • Zero foreign matter
  • Densely woven
  • Double yarns in wefts
  • Perfectly calendered
  • Prewashed yarns

We gave a couple of gentle knife strokes over the sample. Nothing happened. This fabrics don’t get affected by wear and tear so easily. If the making is right, an oxford shirt will become a part of your wardrobe for years. 

Durability test oxford fabric

Color Retention

We dared to use hard detergents to clean the oxford. Then, we put it under direct sunlight to dry up. Not just these, we also used a gaslighter to heat the sheet. But surprisingly, the color remained almost the same after so many torture sessions. 

Maintenance

This awesome fabric is easy to care. You can manually wash it or use a washing machine instead. You can use any preferred detergent except bleach. 

Organic Oxford Cotton Fabric & Sustainability

Producing oxford requires lots of water. But organic cotton yarn requires less amount of water and fertilizers. So, encouraging organic oxford is good for the environment. 

Unlike synthetic materials, organic cotton is biodegradable. So, even the fabric wastes won’t damage the soil. We need to practice using organic oxford fabrics even if it costs us a few extra bucks. You will find GOt certified oxford in the market.

oxford production place

Uses of Oxford Fabric

This fabric isn’t versatile like chenille or denim. The main use is dressing. Still, we’re mentioning some other uses of this textile to complete the discussion. 

  • Clothing or shirting

100-150 GSM oxford sheets are perfect for making shirts, pants, skirts, etc. Heavier options make good jackets or overcoats to wear during winter. 

  • Accessories like pouches, bags, etc. 

Polyester-infused oxford fabric (1:1 or 3:2 cotton-poly combination) makes good bags for both men and women. Their water resistance is higher than other popular shirting fabrics. 

  • Pet items like dresses, beds, etc. 

As oxford are well-resistant to wear and tear, you can put them on to let your pets play and rest. Sharp objects like nails won’t do any harm to the construction at all. 

  • Lightweight upholstery

Classic oxford fabrics that weigh around 200 GSM are good upholstery options. 

  • Tents and covers

Thick sheets with higher denier rates and waterproof properties are used to make tents. Those Oxford sheets mostly have a polyurethane coating to resist moisture during rainy days. 

  • Healthcare items

Some hospitals use lightweight (80-120 GSM) oxford fabrics to make patient dresses and beds. Because they are durable fabrics and easy to clean. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Oxford Fabric

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of this fabric. 

Advantages

  • Durable and sustainable
  • Resistant to moisture, wear, and tear
  • Long-time color and print retention
  • Very low shrink rate
  • Good for all-season clothing

Disadvantages

  • Royal oxford fabrics (for formal events) aren’t budget-friendly
  • Highly calendered fabrics can be less breathable and uncomfortable during summer

How to Take Care of Oxford Fabric?

Washing or cleaning oxford fabric doesn’t require any special care. You need to avoid bleach or fabric softener for washing oxford fabric. 

You can use regular detergents with low to medium hot water in this case. But don’t overheat the cloth as it might damage the weaving. 

One last thing, hard pressing iron can stiffen your oxford shirt. So, gently iron it for sustainability. 

Oxford Fabric By the Yard

A famous fabric like oxford is found almost everywhere. Most of the time, the price remains between 7-12$ for 1 yard of oxford fabric (more or less than 150 GSM). 

To ease your search, here’s a list of the most reliable brands you can trust to purchase oxford fabrics by the yard:

  • Texco Inc: If you are fond of American Textile, you will love this brand. The company offers a vast range of cotton and cotton blend fabrics. 
  • Premier Prints: Premier Prints is the best brand for oxford fabrics. You can find both synthetic and blended cotton fabrics from this brand. 
  • Forest Fabric: The Asian company sells different types of fabric that you can only find in specific regions like Korea and Japan. Other popular cotton types are available here too. 
  • MyBecca: This is a very famous brand for upholstery fabrics mainly. Although the brand doesn’t sell cotton oxford fabrics, synthetic oxfords are also perfect. 
  • LaceKing: Laceking is heaven for small craftsmen and DIYers. Fabrics are sold at a reasonable price range. 

Where to Buy

You can check on Amazon, Etsy, and Joann Fabrics to get the best deal on cotton oxford fabrics. There, you can find a wide range of variety, prints, and sizes. 

FAQ

What is similar to Oxford fabric? 

Any other plain weave or basketweave cotton fabrics are similar to oxford fabric. For example, chambray and poplin. Some smooth Madras fabrics can also be good replacements for Oxford fabric. 

How do you soften Oxford fabric?

You can soften any cotton fabric by soaking it in salt water. You can also try baking soda instead. Baking soda can also eliminate odd smells from clothes. 

Is 600D Oxford cloth fire and melt-resistant? 

600 Denier oxford fabric isn’t naturally fire-resistant. After weaving, some post-processing and coating can make 600D Oxford fabric a good fire-resistant material. 

Summary: Oxford Fabric

All cotton clothing fabrics have some common traits. So, differentiating the oxford fabric is a bit tricky. However, we have told you how we figured out the key characteristics of this popular fabric. Thus, finding the best oxford fabric won’t be a tough call. 

We have also made a list of the best cotton muslin shirts. You can visit there and see the true benefits of cotton muslin clothing. 

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!