Advertising & Marketing

Fabric Weights Explained: Measuring the Quality of Cotton

Promotional Totes, Fabric Weights, Cotton Weights & GSM Cotton: All Explained in One Friendly Place 

(P.S. Converting Ounces to GSM Is a Breeze!)  

If you’re looking for a cotton tote and trying to figure out how strong the fabric is, you may be feeling a little lost. You might be asking yourself: what’s with all the acronyms, abbreviations and fabric weight references? What’s GSM and what does it have to do with weight? And do I really need a degree in textile design to figure this stuff out? The answer is…. NO! Because we’ve done the work for you. Read on for everything you need to know about fabric weights, types of cotton cloth, GSM cotton and cotton weights.    

What Does GSM Stand for?  

GSM stands for Grams per Square Metre (g/m2).  

What Does GSM Mean for Fabric?  

Got it.  For fabric, like the promotional cotton bag you’re looking to put your logo on, GSM is an objective, industry-standard measure of fabric weight. It’s used in the production process to maintain quality control and consistency. The higher the GSM, the heavier the fabric.   

What Does Weight Mean for Fabric? Is a Higher GSM Always Better?  

Mostly, yes. And in terms of the custom cotton tote bag you’re looking for, definitely. If you’re looking for shopping bags and totes, a higher GSM cotton means a sturdier bag.   

If you’re shopping for a pair of linen trousers or a beach cover-up for a hot summer day, a lower GSM would mean a lighter, thinner material, perhaps a looser weave, and might be exactly what you’re after. If you’re doing some gardening in cold weather you may want a heavy GSM fabric, like stiff cotton jeans and a thick sweatshirt, whereas if yoga is your thing, you’ll want a lower GSM fabric, like single jersey or nylon, to help you achieve the perfect pose.   

How Do I Compare GSMs of Different Fabrics?   

Easy! If you look at a nylon and polyester bag of the same GSM, the nylon bag will be stronger than the polyester. Nylon fabric is made differently, resulting in more strength and flexibility. If your primary objective is waterproofing rather than strength, polyester will outperform nylon, and either one will outperform cotton.    

Can You Give Examples of Different Totes in a Cotton Fabric Weight Chart?  

Of course! Below are the GSM ranges of the most popular types of cotton totes:  

GSM Range Fabric Sample 
170–230 GSM Lightweight craft bags and small capacity shopping totes 
230–340 GSM More structured craft bags and shopping totes 
340–450 GSM Tough denim bags and stiff canvas boat totes 
450> GSM Suitable for upholstery, rugs and tents, bags at this GSM are built to go the distance 
Cotton fabric weight chart

What If the Tote Has a Cotton Weight Explained in Ounces, not in GSM? 

Not hard! Multiply the ounces by 33.91 to convert ounces to GSM (grams per square metre). For instance, our lightweight Colour Me Cotton Tote Bag is described as having a five-ounce fabric weight. Multiply five ounces by 33.91 and you get a 170 GSM fabric weight. To go the other way, divide the GSM by 33.91 to get ounces. Let’s try another: Our Carolina Cotton Tote Bag is a 2.94-ounce fabric, meaning 100 GSM (2.94 x 33.91). Reference the cheat sheet above and you’ll see how lightweight this one is!   

Please Suggest Some Custom Totes in Fabric Weights You Recommend  

Colour Me Cotton Tote Bag: Our lightest cotton tote, weighing in at only five ounces or 170 GSM.    

Christa Natural Cotton Drawstring Backpack: 5 ounces, or 170 GSM, makes this one super lightweight and super budget-friendly, too.   

Lee Colour Block Tote Bag: 10.58-ounce fabric weight means a sturdy 358 GSM. Shopping? Groceries? You’re good to go.    

Carolina Cotton Tote Bag: 2.94 ounces or 100 GSM, this tote is lightweight and easy to fold and store. 

Pheebs 150 g/m² Recycled Cotton Tote Bag: This 4.42-ounce or 150 GSM tote is trendy, lightweight and easy to keep in the car.  

Canvas shopping bag 270 g/m²: 7.96 ounces or 270 GSM means this tote’s ready to shop for your brand. 

Custom Totes and Cotton Weights: Clear as Mud?  

If your only takeaway is that a higher GSM means a stronger tote, you’re good to go. You’re ready to make an informed decision about the promotional tote that’s right for your budget, occasion and intended use. Add your logo and advertise everywhere.  


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