Linen weight explained

Many of us have probably come across the “gsm” term that accompanies a fabric. So what is it and how can it be used for determining the right fabric for our project?

What is GSM?

GSM stands for grams per square meter, which is the weight of each square meter of the fabric. For example, if a linen is 150gsm, it means 1 square meter of it weighs 150gsm. We can use this number to gauge the relative thickness of the different linen fabric.

Use of different weights

Different use of fabric will call for different weights. The lighter the linen, the sheerer and floatier it is. For example, a sheer curtain can use linen that is 90 to 120gsm in weight. If you need to block out more light, heavier weight linen can be used. Block out curtains can be 250-320gsm in weight.

The use of linen based on common weights can be categorised as below. Please note this is only a rough guide provided as a pointer. As you learn and experience more about linen, these numbers can be flexible as you wish.


Common GSM


Sheer curtains

70 – 120gsm


Summer clothing



Trousers, skirts, dresses, shirts

150 - 300gsm


Block out curtains


Medium, Heavy





At least 400gsm



At least 300gsm



What weight linen for clothing items?

Medium weight linen from 150gsm up to 300gsm can be used for clothing.

150-220gsm linen are commonly used for shirts, dresses, skirts. For thicker pants or suits, 200-300gsm are perfect.

If you want a lighter and summery shirt/skirt,etc…, 120gsm could be used.

It will take some experience to be able to determine the exact linen that is perfect for your project, however it is a very flexible fabric and if you stick to the commonly used weight, you will do fine.

What weight linen for upholstery?

Upholstery requires the weight of the linen to be of at least 300gsm to withstand traffic. For pillowcases and cushion covers, use 300-350gsm linen. For armchairs and sofas, use linen of at least 400gsm.

What weight linen for curtains?

Linen is a timeless fabric for curtains. You can never go wrong with linen curtain in a traditional or transitional house.

As a pointer, use 70-120gsm linen for sheer curtains, and 250-350gsm linen for block out curtains.

What weight linen for towels?

Use 200-250gsm linen for tea towels, and use 300-400gsm linen for bath towels.

What weight linen for napkins?

Use 150-200gsm linen for napkins.

Linen softness

One major factor that determines the softness of the linen is the size of the thread. The smaller (and lighter) the thread, the softer the fabric. This means to make up the same gsm, we will need more small threads as compared to bigger threads. This is why despite having the same gsm, some linen can feel very rough, and some can feel much softer.




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