What is Ringspun Fabric?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Many fabric types, such as cotton and denim, can be ringspun fabrics. The term simply means that the fiber that makes up the fabric is sent through a process where it is spun before it is knitted or fabricated into the final product. Spinning the fibers creates a fabric that is generally more durable and softer, making it ideal for many clothing and linen fabrics.

Many decorative throws are made of ringspun fabric.
Many decorative throws are made of ringspun fabric.


As a modern choice, ringspun fabric is still desirable for its softer texture. Durability also makes it a great choice for the production of casual clothing that is easily dressed up, such as khaki slacks and linen-like, washable jackets for men. Along with these options, ringspun fabric is often used in the production of simple school uniforms for both boys and girls. The durable nature of the material makes it much easier to care for, and will help the uniform to keep its shape throughout the school year.

Duvet covers are sometimes made of ringspun fabric.
Duvet covers are sometimes made of ringspun fabric.

When it comes to casual wear, ringspun fabric is often used for tank tops, T-shirts, and a number of the bright and colorful short sleeved button-down shirts that many people favor in warm weather. To go along with the tops, this fabric is often used to make denim pants and shorts, which is usually preferred because ringspun fabric can last longer than most other denim fabrics.

It is common to find towels made of ringspun fabric.
It is common to find towels made of ringspun fabric.

Home Linens

Around the house, ringspun fabric may be used for such items as duvet covers, tablecloths, linen napkins, and pillow covers. Some of the casual blankets and throws used often in decorating the home today are made of ringspun fabric, combining a desired look with a soft feel. Bath and hand towels are also commonly made from the fabric due to its durable and soft nature.

T-shirts are often made with ringspun fabric.
T-shirts are often made with ringspun fabric.


Ringspun fabric originated in the Middle Ages as a means of taking the rougher feel of raw cotton and making it smoother to the touch. Essentially, the process for producing this fabric involved using a spinning method, such as on a spinning wheel, to create a slightly finer thread, which is then woven into fabric. The spun cotton was softer to the touch, which was certainly more pleasing to the skin, and the fibers were actually more compacted and provided a greater measure of strength. In a time when material made for garments often had to endure for an extended period of time, spun fabric was definitely an advantage.

Denim is a type of fabric that can be ringspun.
Denim is a type of fabric that can be ringspun.

As the manufacturing age of the early 19th century dawned, the ability to mass-produce ringspun thread came into being. Beginning with spinning frames that were at first ran using foot pedals, then steam power and finally electricity, it was possible for even a small textile plant to produce more ringspun fabric in one day than 50 people could produce by hand in one week.

As manufacturing technology continued to advance, and synthetic fibers were developed, the ringspun method of producing fabrics grew right along with the innovations. Today the fabric is mass-produced in large factories using machines called ring-spinning frames that do most of the work. This type of fabric is still one of the most commonly produced of all textile products.

The spinning wheel was invented during the Middle Ages.
The spinning wheel was invented during the Middle Ages.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Actually, there are many tests that show that bamboo viscose is, in fact, anti bacterial. The USA FTC doesn't allow marketing to say this anymore, but just smell test a used tee, sock or pair of underwear made from bamboo viscose and you'll see it's true.

Also, there are other ways to make bamboo into fabric such as nano bamboo (a.k.a. bamboo charcoal), or mechanical bamboo, where, even the FTC doesn't deny, the fabric retains it's anti-bacterial nature.

Lastly, even though the process to make bamboo into a viscose uses chemicals, it's done in a factory setting as opposed to spraying fertilizers and such into the air and water, like conventional cotton. Also, bamboo is far more renewable than other materials because of its fast growth rate and regeneration without the need of replanting. I've got everything bamboo and love it.


I am not sure what size to order. Do ringspun cotton shirts run smaller?


@Post 4: Bamboo is essentially viscose rayon. It goes through a harsh chemical process to get the way it is and is not particularly environmentally friendly, nor is it any more sustainable than fully-natural fibers such as cotton or wool. It's also not antibacterial at all; that's a marketing hype/lie. It does make a nice fabric, though, with properties similar to cotton.


Another good eco-friendly soft fabric alternative is bamboo fabric.

Although it's not ringspun, many bamboo fabrics are very soft and smooth, like silk.

Besides this, they are from an easily renewable resource, and bamboo is naturally antibacterial.

This may be a reason to trade in your ringspun cotton sheets for bamboo ones -- they not only feel great, but is also keeps your sheets bacteria-free!


I've always been a fan of using ringspun wool fabrics in sewing. Something about that process just makes everything so much nicer-feeling.


Just a quick note to add -- the vast majority of ringspun fabrics are fleece or cotton fabrics.

Although it is possible to find ringspun rayon or nylon fabrics, for the most part they still won't be as soft as their fleece or cotton counterparts.

Of course, if you're really looking for soft above everything else, then you may want to just go with a silk or satin fabric, if the conditions in which you'll be using the fabric are suitable.

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