Calico Fabric: History, Properties, Uses, Care, Where to Buy

Introduction to Calico Fabric

Introduction to Calico Fabric– Versatile fabric for multiple purposes– None
History of Calico Fabrics– Rich history and cultural significance– None
Properties of Calico Fabric– Breathable– None
– Soft handle
– Good strength, abrasion resistance, and durability
– Easy to wash
How is Calico Fabric Made?– Simple production process
Where is Calico Fabric Made?– Produced globally
Common uses of Calico Fabric– Sewing and quilting– None
– Daily products
– Advertising prospects
– Bleach and dye
How to care for Calico Fabric– Easy to wash and care for– May shrink when washed
Santee Print Works New Country Calicos Flowers Mint Fabric by the Yard

Whether it be your day-to-day clothes or your comfy sofa chair, Calico Fabrics play an essential role in our daily lives. While the fabric has its origins in India it has come around to Europe to bring comfort and contentment to all consumers alike.

The process of making calico is essentially the same as making cotton cloth but stops before the cotton is fully processed. The fabric is found in an array of different colors, textures, and prints. And its versatile ability to be used for multiple purposes makes it much more favorable to use compared to other fabrics.

What is the History of Calico Fabrics?

Calico fabrics have their roots set deep in the city of Calicut in southwestern India. All-cotton fabric woven in a plain or tabby weave and printed in one or more colors with simple designs came about in the 11th century, becoming an important commodity by the 17th and 18th centuries.

Traded between Europe and India, Calico Fabric’s grandeur and demand became quite apparent in the market with India acting as the biggest exporter. Gujrat, Rajasthan, and Burnup, all in Madhya Pradesh’s Khundesh area, were the main centers of calico printing during the Mughal Empire. Nowadays it is sourced from all around the world with the Fabric becoming much more accessible with the passing of time.

Properties of Calico Fabric

Calico fabrics are one of the most flexible fabrics used today. It comes in a wide range of textures and characteristics. This texture can vary from delicate and sheer ones to coarser and more robust ones. The different prints, as well as textures, make the fabric look much more appealing to all.


Calico is naturally breathable. It is especially helpful when in an airtight and potentially ruinous environment.

Soft Handle

Good Drape which takes time to dry

Good strength, abrasion resistance, and durability.

It is sturdy and durable which allows it to be engaged in activities concerned with wear n tear. While at the same time not so sturdy that it can’t be cut. Just getting a rotary cutter would be enough to cut out a few pieces If the need arises ever.

Easy to wash 

Since the fabric has poor elasticity, it creases easily, making it less of a hassle for tailors. It also doesn’t act as a hindrance when dyed or washed. 

How is Calico Fabric Made?

The process for making Calico Fabric isn’t quite as extensive as one might imagine. Raw cotton is sent in bales to textile factories, which are then processed in stages. The mills start by aligning the fibers and removing contaminants. 

They smooth out the fibers, spin them to reinforce them, and then begin the weaving process. Calico fabric is made using a ‘simple’ weave, in which the lengthwise strands (the weft) alternately pass over and beneath the transverse yarns (the warp).

Where is Calico Fabric Made?

The fabric is made throughout the world in Textile mills, with countries either locally producing it or exporting it if a special need arises.  

Common uses of Calico Fabric

Being such a versatile fabric, it acts as a perfect suit for all sorts of things.

Sewing and Quilting

Calico Fabric is used for sewing and quilting by designers, tailors, and fabric makers.


Designers use it to test out their ideas in the form of toiles. A mock-up of a garment made with cheap material before it’s made with the final fabric to test a design. Designers all around the world use it to make sure the fit is right before cutting into other fabrics and making designs. 

These designs can be hand-stitched as well as made on sewing machines like the Singer 9985, one of the best-known and most widely available sewing machines all around the globe. 


Bedsheet and blanket makers use calico fabrics, which is the best fabric for crib sheets, to create exquisite designs by the process of quilting. Since quilting cotton is generally quite easy to sew with, compared to some fabrics. 

So, the fabric is stitched together manually using a Sewing thread or with quilting machines like the Brother PQ1500SL. One of the best long arm quilting machines. An ideal machine for working on long quilts, e.g., queen and king-size bedspreads.

Daily products

Calico fabric is also commonly used for products such as purses, aprons, Knitting and crochet, curtains, and furniture since it is robust and durable. It can also be used for making customizable dresses, shapes, and even costumes for parties. Using your creativity and a basic Sewing essentials kit, you’re ready for any event you want!

Advertising Prospects

The fabric has advertising prospects as well, with it being used by advertising agencies throughout the world in the form of bulletin board backdrops. At the same time, it can also be considered for making projects related to arts and crafts, as well as garment projects using Flic Flac. One of the ideal and best Calico Fabrics choices, for scrapbookers and quilters.

Bleach and dye

The fabric can be bleached and colored in large quantities too. Having different Sewing patterns and textures, it can be used for nearly any type of apparel or home item. 

How to care for Calico Fabric

  • The calico fabric should be washed at 30 degrees on a cool or warm cycle. 
  • Machine Wash/Tumble Dry Low
  • It shrinks when washed, usually by 10% on the first wash and up to 3% on subsequent washes.
  • One should use a cooler wash and pre-wash before sewing, as Calico becomes softer over time after being washed.

Where to Buy Calico Fabric

Calico fabrics can be bought from a number of retailers as well as through e-commerce websites, e.g., Amazon or Which even has a variety of the best floral fabrics ranging from the Robert Kaufman Fabric to the Fields Fabric.  The fabric is also available at fabric and garment shops all around. 

The fabric can be sold in a number of different ways:

  • By yard 
  • Quarter
  • A bundle of pre-cut squares (sheets)
  • Cut by order (customized) 

The fabric is sold based on meter measurements although some retailers might sell it differently. It isn’t hard to acquire due to the frequent use it has. 

Crafters and sewers often use calico fabric to create quilts and garments. Calico fabrics are available in many different colors and some are reproductions of fabrics from the 19th century and early 20th century, so that you can give your project an antique look. This buying guide will help you find the perfect calico fabric for any project you have in mind.

Best Calico Fabrics

Here are our Calico fabric reviews.

1. Flic Flac 200 Pieces 4×4 Inch Calico Fabric Squares

This Flic Flac bundle of 4×4 inch fabric squares is a great choice for scrapbookers and quilters.  It comes with 50 different patterns, so it will give variety to patchwork and garment projects. The 100% cotton composition of these squares makes the project made out of them durable and long lasting.

  • 50 different patterns
  • 100% cotton
  • Soft and strong
Check Today's Price on Amazon

2. iNee Floral Fat Quarter Bundle

This iNee fat quarter bundle contains six pieces of fabric and is available in green and pink options.  The fabric is made of 100% cotton and is machine washable in cold water. It is a great choice for patchwork quilts, home decor, apparel, and more.

  • 100% cotton
  • 18 inches by 22 inches
  • Machine washable
Check Today's Price on Amazon

3. Field’s Fabric Reproduction Style Fat Quarter Bundle

This Field’s fat quarter bundle is a great choice for creating quilts or garments in a reproduction style.  It includes 10 fat quarters in 10 different prints.  All are 100% cotton.  With these fabrics, you will be able to create a durable and beautiful project.  Patterns vary from one bundle to the next.

  • 100% cotton
  • 10 different prints
  • Fat quarters measure 18×22
Check Today's Price on Amazon

4. Santee Print Works New Country Calicos

Santee Print Works New Country calico fabrics are available in a range of different patterns and can be ordered by the yard so that you can get exactly how much you need for your project.  It is 100% cotton, which means it can be machine washed in cold water and tumble dried on a low setting, making your projects easy to care for.  It is perfect for quilting and garment creation.

  • 100% cotton
  • Cut to order
  • 48 inches wide
Check Today's Price on Amazon

5. Robert Kaufman Calico Fabric

Robert Kaufman calico fabric comes in a range of different floral prints and can be ordered by the yard. It is made from 100% cotton, so its easy to care for and can be machine washed in cold water and tumble dried on a low setting. It is a great choice for quilting and garment projects.

  • 100% cotton
  • Cut to order
  • 44 inches wide
Shop Now on Amazon for Fabric

Calico Fabric Buyer’s Guide

Sewers generally use calico fabric on quilting projects and to create garments.  All of the calico fabric in this buying guide is made from 100% cotton, so it is easy to care for.  It can be machine washed in cold water and tumble dried on the low setting.  There are several factors to consider when choosing a calico fabric for your project. This buying guide will help you find a suitable calico fabric for any project you have in mind.

One factor to consider when selecting a calico fabric is what type of project you want to use it for.  Some of the fabrics in this buying guide are available by the yard so that you can get exactly as much material as you need.  This makes them suitable for projects where a larger, continuous piece of fabric is needed, such as creating a dress. Other fabrics in this buying guide come in packs of smaller pieces, such as fat quarters and 4×4 inch squares.  These are suitable for creating patchwork quilts and come in a range of different color schemes so that you can make your project match any decoration scheme you want.

Another factor to consider is what type of project you want to create.  Some of the calico fabrics in this buying guide are available as reproduction prints, so you can give a vintage look to any project you want to create.  This buying guide will help you find the perfect calico fabric for your project.

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Calico fabrics have acted as an essential commodity in the day-to-day lives of us people, since the earliest of times. It is a product that has sustained its use for decades in acting as a beneficial source for a multitude of purposes and is continuing to do so.


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