There are many different types of fabric out there, but most fabrics fall under two main types, either knit or woven fabric.
Understanding the two different types of fabrics can really help you pick the right one for sewing and when purchasing new clothes.
What are knit fabrics? Knit fabrics are certain types of fabric that are made through a knitting process, which creates a stretch in the fabric with the way the threads are looped and interlocked. Knit fabrics are popularly used to make t-shirts, socks, sweaters, sportswear, sweatshirts, and more.
Keep reading to find out just about all you need to know on knit fabrics, such as what it is, the characteristics knit fabric has, the different types of knit fabrics available, and more!
What Is Knit Fabric?
Knit fabric is a type of textile that is made by interlocking and looping yarn together with long needles. There are different types of knit fabric, but the two main categories include weft knitting and warp knitting.
Weft knitting is when the loops run back and forth when the fabric is being made, and warp knitting is when the loops run up and down. This does create quite a difference in how the knit fabric turns out.
Popular garments made using knit fabrics include t-shirts, leggings, sweaters, socks, sweatshirts, and more. Commercially, knitting machines are used to create knit fabrics, as these can create knitted fabric pieces in a shorter time. Knit fabrics can also be knitted by hand too.
The Characteristics Of Knit Fabric
Knit fabrics have some great characteristics that woven fabrics might not. The characteristics of knit fabrics make them a popular choice for many different types of clothing items, from t-shirts to swimwear.
These are some of the best characteristics of knit fabrics:
Knit fabric is stretchy and elastic, and because of this, it is wrinkle-resistant. When crumpled or squashed up, knit fabric should spring back into the same shape it was in before, with minimal wrinkling.
Certain types of knit fabrics are more wrinkle-resistant than others, but generally, all types of knit fabric do well with not wrinkling!
Stretchy And Elastic
Being made from interlocking loops, knit fabrics are quite stretchy and have good elasticity. They can stretch width-way and length-ways, which can make them more comfortable to wear. The elasticity also makes it good for form-fitting and zipperless clothing items, as they can be easy to put on.
Knit fabrics are also unstructured and can be very flexible, so they can drape and stretch over different shapes well and conform to all body types.
Knit fabrics are not fussy fabrics, and you do not need to worry about hand-washing or special drying of the fabrics. Most of the time it handles machine washing well, and it can be tumble dried too.
You also should not need to iron knit fabrics that have been washed, as they are wrinkle-resistant and should dry fairly wrinkle-free.
Most of the different types of soft knit fabrics are soft to the touch and are comfortable to wear. Looser-knit fabrics can feel more ridged and bumpy, whereas tight-knit fabrics feel smoother and softer.
Disadvantages Of Knit Fabrics
Knit fabrics have some great characteristics, but there are some disadvantages to knit fabrics too. It is important to understand the disadvantages or downsides, of using knit fabrics, so you can know when not to use them!
Woven fabric is generally more durable than knit fabric. Over time, knit fabric can begin to pill or stretch out of shape. It can be difficult to get knit fabric back to its initial shape when the fibers have stretched out, so it can be slightly more prone to damage.
Not Easy to Sew
Knit fabric can be difficult to sew as it is so stretchy. This can be either hand sewing or sewing it with a machine, it can be difficult to sew straight and even stitches. Woven fabrics are easier to sew as they do not pucker or gather too much.
The Types Of Knit Fabrics
There are many types of knit fabric, but here are some of the most common types that you might come across:
Jersey knit is a soft, flexible, and stretchy knit fabric that can be made from different types of fibers, such as wool, cotton blends, and other synthetic fibers.
This is a light to medium-weight fabric that is made through the weft knitting process. Most t-shirts and dresses are made using jersey knit as it drapes well and fits the body comfortably.
I adore this textured jersey knit fabric for making scrunchies and headbands.
Elastane knit has the benefits of a few different types of fabrics. It is soft and comfortable like cotton and has the stretchiness of polyester. Often, elastane knit fabrics are a blend of lycra and spandex.
This is a soft fabric, and because of the stretch, it can be difficult to sew. It is commonly used for shirts and sleepwear.
Double knit fabric is a medium-weight knit fabric that is nearly double the weight of single stitch. It is considered to be less stretchy than other types of knit fabrics, but it does make it more durable.
Popular fibers used to make double knit fabrics include rayon, cotton, wool, and some synthetic fibers.
Rib-knit fabrics can be identified by the vertical ribs that show on both sides of the fabric, making it a reversible fabric. It is made by alternating purl and knit stitches in the weft knitting process.
This is a popular knit fabric to use to make t-shirt neckbands, turtlenecks, hems, cuffs, and much more. It is stretchy width-way and can be very soft. Certain garments such as sweaters, cardigans, and more can be made with rib knit.
Interlock knit fabric is reversible, with fine lengthwise ribs showing on either side. It can appear similar to jersey knit, but unlike jersey knit, both sides are the same.
It is a fairly thick knit fabric and has a smooth surface that makes it suitable for painting and embroidery. Unlike some other knit fabrics, interlock fabric is easy to sew with and it is more stable.
Purl knit is a basic knit fabric and is not as smooth as some of the other types. It is characterized by small bumps on the surface, and it does have some stretch to it.
French Terry Knit
French terry knit is commonly used to make robes or even cloths, as it is soft and very plush. It has loops on one side and piles on the other side.
Fleece knit is brushed on one side, which disrupts and separates the fibers to give the fabric a very soft, fuzzy texture. This is great to make blankets, pajamas, and jackets.
Jacquard knit is most commonly made using a knitting machine that has a Jacquard control. This can either be single knit or double knit and has a complex pattern along the front.
Is My Fabric Knit Or Woven?
There are a few ways to identify whether your fabric is knit or woven:
You can tug on the fabric to feel how stretchy it is. Knit fabric is much stretchier than woven fabric. Knit fabric can usually stretch widthwise and lengthwise. If the fabric resists stretching, it is likely woven.
There are different types of woven and knit fabrics, but looking at the threads can help you differentiate between the two. Knit fabric usually includes loops, whereas woven fabrics often have a criss-cross pattern.
Try to test whether the fabric is wrinkle-resistant or not. If you squeeze the fabric and it springs back quickly, then it is likely knit. If the fabric retains the wrinkles and does not spring back quickly or completely, it is likely woven.
Knit fabrics are made by interlocking and looping thread with two long needles, which creates a fabric that is stretchy, comfortable, and wrinkle-resistant.
There are different types of knit fabrics available, but they mostly share similar characteristics, and are great to use to make t-shirts, sportswear, leggings, sweaters, jerseys and so much more!
Is cotton woven or knit?
Cotton is neither a woven nor knit fabric, as it is a fiber that is used to create a fabric. Cotton can be used to make knit or woven fabrics and designs, depending on the method used.
Is fleece a knit fabric?
Fleece is a knit fabric, where at least one side of the fabric is brushed to loosen the fibers and give it a soft, fuzzy, plush feel. For garments such as sweatpants and sweatshirts, usually, only one side of the fleece fabric is brushed to be soft against the skin. It is a very warm fabric too.
Is flannel knit?
Flannel is a loosely woven fabric that is made using wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers. It is a very soft and warm fabric and can be used to make shirts, sweatshirts, pajamas and so much more.
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