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Most of us have seen grey heather, but do we all know that grey heather can never be 100% cotton (well, maybe some day that process will be invented). Anyway, for now, grey heather fabric is used by mixing at least two types of fiber.

I have done some research and compiled the following definition regarding heather:

A mixed fabric color is achieved by using different colors of fiber and mixing them together (a good example is a grey heather t-shirts). Black and white fiber mixed will combine to give grey heather fiber. Heather is blended fibers combined to create a multicolored effect. Heather fabric typically contains 3 fibers: cotton, polyester or rayon. Heather grey fabric is never 100% Cotton. Another fiber must always be added with the cotton in order to achieve the necessary color.

It is important to note that depending on the percent of cotton, the fabric can still be legally labeled 100% cotton. You will need to check the most current regulations to determine the percentage of cotton required to label a garment as 100% cotton. You can probably learn that information from the Federal Trade Commission. You can find a link to the FTC from the care label page on Apparel Search or go directly to

Learn about textile fiber such as cotton, rayon, and poly.
Learn more about fabric mills.

I think that my definition can be improved. Hopefully one of you textile engineers or anyone else working for a mill can add more details. Please list your knowledge regarding heather in the comments section below.

Views: 4295

Comment by Alfredo Moran on March 5, 2009 at 2:25pm

Another typical way of achieving the Heather effect is with all white fabric. The type of white fabric I'm referring to is called PFD (Prepared For Dye). What happens is that since the fabric is made up of a combination of cotton and something else, usually polyester, the cotton fibers will dye very nicely but the polyester will not dye as much. The differences in the absorption rate of the cotton and polyester fibers produce the heathered look. I don't work in a knitting mill or anything but I take customers there all the time to choose fabric so I picked up a few things ;o)

Comment by gagandeep singh on July 28, 2009 at 6:33am
nice definition , I was not aware that grey heather could never be 100% cotton , thanks for sharing


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