What is GSM in fabric and why is it important?

Written by José Max Lin
Last updated
July 29, 2022

When you are in the process of selecting fabric for your garment, one of the most important things to consider is the GSM in fabric or grams per square meter of the fabric. The GSM is a measure of the density of the fabric and it directly affects the weight, handfeel, opacity and many other important properties of the fabric.

Podcast: What is GSM in fabric and why is it important?

What is GSM in fabric?

GSM in fabric stands for grams per square meter and it is a measure of the weight and thickness of the fabric. The higher the GSM, the heavier and thicker the fabric will be. The GSM of a fabric can range from as low as 30 gsm for a very lightweight fabric such as voile to as high as 400 gsm for a heavy fabric such as canvas.

mulit color texture samples gsm in fabric

How to calculate fabric GSM?

To calculate the GSM of a fabric, you need to know the weight of the fabric in grams and the width of the fabric in meters. The formula for calculating GSM in fabric is:

GSM in fabric = (fabric weight in grams) / (fabric width in meters) x (fabric width in meters)

For example, if you have a piece of fabric that is 1 meter wide and weighs 200 grams, the GSM in fabric would be 200 grams / (1 meter x 1 meter) = 200 gsm.

What factors affect GSM?

The following factors can affect the GSM of a fabric:

  • Fiber type: The type of fiber used to make the fabric will impact the GSM. For example, a fabric made from cotton will typically have a lower GSM than a fabric made from wool.
  • Yarn weight: The weight of the yarn used to make the fabric can also affect the GSM. Heavier yarns will result in a higher GSM while lighter yarns will result in a lower GSM.
  • Weave: The way the fabric is woven can also impact the GSM. A tightly woven fabric will have a higher GSM than a loosely woven fabric.
  • Finishing processes: The way the fabric is finished can also affect the GSM. Fabric that has been starched or stiffened will have a higher GSM than unstarched or unstiffened fabric.

Fabric weight GSM

There are generally three categories of fabric gsm: light, medium and heavy.

  • Lightweight fabrics have a gsm of less than 150. These fabrics are typically used for garments that will be worn in warm weather or for those that need to be lightweight and breathable.
  • Medium weight fabrics have a gsm of between 150 and 350. These fabrics are typically used for garments that will be worn in moderate weather or for those that need to be durable and long lasting.
  • Heavy weight fabrics have a gsm of more than 350. These fabrics are typically used for garments that will be worn in cold weather or for those that need to be very durable and long lasting.

The gsm of a fabric will also affect other properties such as absorbency, drape, comfort and appearance.

Fabric GSM chart

HeavinessAverage GSM rangeFabrics
Lightweight1-150 GSMchiffon, linen, organza, cheesecloth, lace, voile, mesh, habutai
Medium weight150-350 GSMsateen, oxford, velvet, taffeta and charmeuse
Heavy weight350+ GSMupholstery fabric, canvas, brocade, poplin, denim and peau de soie

High GSM fabrics VS low GSM fabrics

A higher GSM number means a heavier and thicker fabric, and a lower number means a lighter and thinner fabric. Both differ in their characteristics, which can lead to different consequences for garment manufacturing. Here are the main characteristics which are affected by the GSM of a fabric:

High GSM fabricLow GSM fabric
Durability
Thickness
Wrinkle resistance
Warmth
Coverage
Price
Breathability
Comfortability

Is lower or higher GSM better?

It depends on the type of garment you are making and the look and feel you want to achieve. A lower GSM in fabric will be more sheer and lightweight, while a higher GSM in fabric will be more opaque and heavy.

How does GSM impact fabric consumption?

The GSM of a fabric can have an impact on the amount of fabric required for a product. A high GSM fabric will require less fabric than a low GSM fabric to achieve the same coverage. This is because a high GSM fabric is thicker and more opaque. As a result, less fabric is required to achieve the desired coverage.

How does GSM impact fabric cost?

The GSM of a fabric can also have an impact on the cost of the fabric. A high GSM fabric will typically be more expensive than a low GSM fabric. This is because thicker fabrics with high GSM are more durable. As a result, it costs more to produce.

How does GSM affect fabric?

GSM is an important factor to consider when selecting fabric for your garment. The GSM will determine the weight and thickness of the fabric, which can impact the look, feel and performance of the garment.

Higher GSM fabrics are typically more durable and longer lasting, but they may also be more expensive. It is important for designers, garment industry professionals and apparel retailers to balance the needs of your garment with the cost of the fabric to ensure you are selecting the best fabric for your project.

How to choose the right GSM?

The GSM of the fabric you choose will depend on the garment you are making and the intended use. If you are making a garment that will be worn often or that needs to be durable, a high GSM in fabric may be a good choice. If you are making a garment for warm weather, a low GSM in fabric may be a better option.

Recommended GSM by activity

No matter what GSM in fabric you choose, make sure to test the fabric before you use it to ensure that it meets your needs and expectations. Here are some recommended GSMs for different activities:

ActivityRecommended GSM
Running90-120 GSM
Hiking190-210 GSM
Yoga150-180 GSM
Basketball160-180 GSM
Tennis200-225 GSM
Golf280-290 GSM
Swimming220-240 GSM
tennis match player serving

Recommended GSM for handbags

Depending on the type of handbag you are making, you will need to choose a fabric with the appropriate GSM. Here are some recommended GSMs for different types of handbags:

Type of handbagRecommended GSM
Purses and clutches80-120 GSM
Leather250-400 GSM
Tote bags210-330 GSM
Messenger bags330-650 GSM
Backpacks400-700 GSM
Luggage2000-3000 GSM
woman holding tote bag canvas fabric

Recommended GSM for footwear

The GSM of the fabric you choose for your footwear will depend on the type of shoe you are making. Here are some recommended GSMs for different types of shoes:

Type of shoeRecommended GSM
Running shoes90-120 GSM
Hiking boots190-210 GSM
Golf shoes280-290 GSM
Swim fins220-240 GSM
Cowboy boots1250-1500 GSM
Work boots800-1100 GSM
Dress shoes600-850 GSM
runner man start running road

Recommended GSM for upholstery

The GSM of the fabric you choose for your upholstery will depend on the type of furniture you are making. Here are some recommended GSMs for different types of furniture:

Type of furnitureRecommended GSM
Sofas600-1200 GSM
Loveseats500-1000 GSM
Chairs400-800 GSM
Ottomans300-600 GSM
Pillows150-250 GSM
Mattresses1000-2000 GSM
Carpeting2000-4000 GSM
home interior upholstery fabric

Conclusion

GSM is an important factor to consider when selecting fabric for your garment. The GSM in fabric will determine the weight and thickness of the fabric, which can impact the look, feel and performance of the garment.

Higher GSM fabrics are typically more durable and longer lasting, but they may also be more expensive. It is important for designers, garment industry professionals and apparel retailers to balance the needs of your garment with the cost of the fabric to ensure you are selecting the best fabric for your project.

When choosing the right GSM in fabric for your garment, consider the intended use and the desired look and feel. Test the fabric before you use it to ensure that it meets your needs and expectations.

HANDBAGIO product specialist
José Max Lin
I am product specialist and content marketing specialist for Handbagio. If you want to wholesale vegan handbags or vegan related products, feel free to ask me any questions.
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