Shot Cotton

Saturday’s Stash: Shot Cotton

With shot fabrics, two different colors of yarn are woven together, so that the weft threads are of one color and the warp threads are another. If the two colors are similar, the eye will often blend them together, so the fabric appears to be an in-between color. Blue shot with green, for instance, might appear teal. Other times, an iridescent effect will be produced, where the colors appear to shift as the fabric moves. This is especially noticeable if the warp and weft threads are dissimilar in hue.

Shot fabric is most often seen in silk and high-quality materials, but it is possible to find shot cotton. Because it’s cotton, it isn’t necessarily suitable for evening or formal wear. It can, however, make a pretty day dress or blouse, and can be used for home decorating, as well.

Tips For Working With Shot Cotton
Cotton is one of the easiest fabrics to work with, so you shouldn’t have much trouble. Feel free to use any variety of embellishments, such as gathering, pleating, ruching, shirring, or pintucking. You can produce a variety of effects by using the grain of the fabric in different ways. One type of embellishment that may not work well is self-fringe, because the individual threads often look a very different color from how the fabric as a whole appears.

When cutting your fabric, always be aware of the grain. Because of the different colors running each way, it must be cut as a napped fabric. Make certain that each pattern piece is turned the same direction, otherwise your finished garment will look as though it’s made from two slightly different fabrics. I learned this the hard way!

Use a universal needle appropriate to the weight of your fabric and test a sample to determine your tension settings and stitch length.

Example of the Day
I have two shot cottons here. One is blue shot with green, producing the illusion of a dark teal. It’s thin and very soft. The other is somewhat stiffer, a teal shot with metallic gold, which produces a shimmering golden teal. I purchased the blue-green cotton at Hobby Lobby several years ago and I found the gold-teal cotton at Hancock Fabrics. Both can be machine washed on gentle cycle, tumble dry low, and a low iron if necessary.

Shot Cotton

Green-Blue Shot Cotton


Shot Cotton

Teal-Gold Shot Cotton


I used some of the green-blue shot cotton to make an 1870s day skirt. The shot aspect adds a subtle interest to the fabric, making it more nuanced than a plain teal cotton. I have two yards left, but I haven’t decided what to make with it yet. I first used the teal-gold shot cotton to make a medieval gown, but it was very unhistorical and didn’t fit right, so I recycled the fabric in trimming a middle-class 1870s dinner dress. I wish I had more of it, but all I have left are scraps.


Have you ever worked with shot cotton? Tell us about your experience!

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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