Tricot may be one of those fabrics you overlook yet can be a wonderful addition to your special projects. And perhaps it is because you do not know much about it or even what to use it for.
What is tricot fabric? Tricot fabric is a plain warp-knit fabric. Being warp-based implies that there are continuous loops of thread running lengthwise. Thus, the warp threads dominate the fabric giving it a soft feel and a sturdy structure.
Keep reading to learn more about Tricot fabric and discover what you’ve been missing. We cover everything on the construction, properties, pros and cons, care, and uses of Tricot fabric.
What Exactly Is Tricot Fabric?
The term Tricot has its roots in the French verb Tricoter, meaning to knit. Therefore, do not be surprised to hear it pronounced the French way, “the-ko.”
Though widely used and a bestseller globally, not everyone is familiar with this fabric. Some people think Tricot is Jersey and others ask if it is polyester.
So, what is Tricot fabric? Tricot is a knit textile, but technically it is more of a weave than a fabric. We may describe Tricot as any fabric constructed from this unique weave.
The fabric has a distinct zig-zag ribbed appearance on the top side and crosswise traverse ribs when flipped over. The longitudinal formation on the surface yields a soft feel on the face, while the back is textured.
Tricot is not created from a specific type of fiber. It can be knit using natural, synthetic, or a blend of fibers. Originally, Tricot was made from silk but is now composed of any fiber, cotton, rayon, wool, etc.
However, polyester, nylon, lycra, spandex, and elastane make the most popular Tricot fabrics. It comes in various weights ranging from sheer to heavy. Tricot is also available in unlimited colors and tones.
How Is Tricot Fabric Constructed?
If you are already familiar with how knit fabrics are created, you’ll be surprised at how differently Tricot is produced.
Most knit textiles are weft knit and built on round knitting machines. In contrast, tricot fabric is warp knit and produced on a flatbed knitting machine, almost similar to a loom.
It has multiple needles, and each one creates a series of loops within its own thread. Think of parallel rows of synchronized slip knots.
The needles then swap these slip knots from their initial row to the adjacent one in a zigzag formation. Slip knots from one strand interlock with those on the next strand connecting into the fabric.
The warp thread is the primary thread in the construction and predominantly forms the structure within a Tricot fabric. The Tricot pattern is, however, not always exactly the same. We have three versions of the Tricot weave, namely atlas, denby, and cord.
The primary difference between these variations is the spacing of the slip knots and the size of the zig-zag.
Consequently, the feel and structure of Tricot will vary across the three variants, but the appearance remains similar. They all have a lengthwise zig-zag rib in front and a crosswise one underneath.
Properties Of Tricot Fabric
Tricot fabric exhibits the qualities of the fibers it is created from. Its absorbency, thermal properties, and stretching ability, among other traits, will be determined by its fiber content.
Tricot fabric is primarily made of synthetic fibers like polyester, spandex, and nylon, but a few producers incorporate an element of cotton, linen, rayon, and other natural fibers.
Nonetheless, there are many other inherent qualities of the tricot weave. For example, Tricot doesn’t run or snag easily. It won’t unravel into that ugly ladder-like hole like knit fabrics do when pulled.
It is also resistant to creasing and wrinkling. In addition, Tricot is incredibly strong and durable thanks to the stability of its framework that features closely knit and interlooped threads.
The lengthwise running of loops is also responsible for Tricot’s soft and smooth texture on the top surface.
The fabric is flexible, has an easy drape, and conforms to shapes well without being clingy. It strikes a balance between knit and woven fabrics as it possesses good stability with some stretch.
As with any fabric with a looped knit structure, Tricot has some give. The stretch is often further improved by incorporating elastane or spandex fibers.
Low-weight Tricot fabrics tend to be more stretchy than higher ones.
Pros And Cons Of Tricot Fabric
If you’ve read this far, you’ve certainly already been impressed by certain traits of Tricot fabric. But do you know its drawbacks as a fabric? The following are the highs and lows of Tricot fabric.
- Easy To Cut And Sew
Cutting and sewing tricot fabric is a breeze. It has the stretch of a knit fabric yet is stable, which is a rare combination.
Knit fabrics are usually very difficult to sew because they are terribly flexible and stretchy. If you’ve sewn Jersey before, then you get the picture.
It moves around a lot during construction which can be frustrating. Tricot is unique, and this uniqueness stems from the way it is knit. The knitting action of the flatbed loom is more like weaving.
This construction gives it the best of both worlds; the stretch of knit fabrics but with better structure and stability than woven ones.
As a result, Tricot fabric doesn’t shift as much while cutting and sewing as other stretchy knit fabrics. In addition, it doesn’t fray, and the edges can do without overlocking.
- Simple Care And Maintenance
You are more likely to shy away from fabrics that are a pain to care for. However, caring for Tricot is so easy you’ll wish you had discovered it sooner.
It doesn’t shrink or stretch in the washing machine or dryer. You can toss it in there without any worries that it will resize.
The fabric is also resistant to creasing and wrinkling. This eliminates the need to press it. Tricot is literally a wash-and-wear kind of fabric. In a busy, fast-paced world, where you might not even have time to iron, who wouldn’t want that?
To maintain Tricot, you only need to wash it in cool water and a gentle cycle, and then air dry it under a shade. Any pressing should be on the cool setting.
- Comfortable To Wear
Synthetic fabrics have the worst reputation when it comes to comfort. Well, Tricot goes against the grain.
Unlike the typical nylon or polyester fabric that is associated with sweating, stickiness, and discomfort, Tricot is a feel-good fabric. It is breezy and comfortable.
The weave construction creates tiny pores that allow the air to circulate freely within the fabric, promoting dryness and comfort to the wearer’s skin.
In addition, the texture of the Tricot weave is very soft, and the fabric drapes easily. Its grip and stability allow it to fit the structure of the body appropriately while allowing free natural movement of the body.
- Modestly Priced
Tricot fabric is not considered a high-end fabric. It is inexpensive, which makes it very accessible.
You can get the light and medium denier fabric for under $10 per yard, while the heavier ones can go up to $20 per yard. High-quality Tricot fabrics cost more.
- Vulnerability To UV Damage
Tricot fabric is predominantly made from synthetic fibers, particularly nylon and polyester. These fibers, though tough, are susceptible to UV damage after being exposed to the sun for a significant amount of time.
Nylon, in particular, will begin to show signs of degradation, such as color fading, in a short span of time. Given that the majority of Tricot’s applications involve outdoor activities, UV degradation is bound to take place fast.
In addition, the sheer Tricot fabric doesn’t offer the wearer much protection from UV light compared to other woven fabrics. The porous nature of the fabric allows the sunlight to penetrate through the minuscule holes to the skin.
- Cannot Withstand High Heat
Tricot fabric, though resilient, cannot tolerate intense heat since its core fibers are usually synthetic.
Synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester are made from plastic chemicals. Plastic melts and burns very quickly when close to heat.
Tricot fabric behaves the same way. Therefore it is likely to melt and get damaged when exposed to excessive heat in the washing machine or dryer.
It is also dangerous to wear around heat sources as it rapidly smolders.
- Uncertain Weight And Fiber Content
Tricot is available in various weights. However, it is not easy to ascertain what weight you are getting and precisely when the price or quality is low.
The same applies to the fibers it constitutes. The information on fiber content is also not always reliable or missing altogether.
This can create problems with choosing the ideal fabric for your purpose because weight and fibers affect elasticity and opaqueness.
If you wanted to make pants and picked a Tricot fabric without knowing its weight, it may be too sheer to be useful for your application. Similarly, you won’t be able to make swimwear if you end up with a cotton-based Tricot fabric.
So unless the fabric has the appropriate label or description as high-quality Tricot brands, you might have trouble finding the correct fabric by weight and fiber.
Uses Of Tricot Fabric
Wondering what you can use Tricot fabric for? Well, Tricot has a wide range of applications, and each of them is dependent on the denier of the fabric.
The denier of the fabric, in layman’s language, is the weight. It can range from very light, like the 15 deniers, to the thicker ones, like 40 deniers.
Denier determines the stretch of Tricot fabric, the transparency or opaqueness, the drape, and so on. This directly influences what use it can be put to.
Regardless of the denier you choose, whether sheer or heavy, it does not affect the feel and longevity of the fabric. The following are some of Tricot’s fabric’s best uses.
Innerwear is the traditional use of Tricot fabric and still the most prominent use today. That shouldn’t be surprising as the fabric has a soothing texture that is pleasant to the skin and breathable.
These are essential features you want in fabric for underwear which the semi-sheer Tricot fabrics provide. You can make anything intimate; panties, camis, nightgowns, lingerie, slip dresses, sleeping shorts, etc.
Constant contact with water can easily weaken the fibers of a fabric. So, you can imagine how worse the damage can be if the water is heavily chlorinated or salty.
That is why Tricot is ideal for this application. Not only is it unaffected by water, but it also stretches and has a good memory.
It holds its shape well, so the fibers don’t stretch out, leaving your swimsuit baggy.
Opt for a stretchy Tricot fabric whose fiber content is a blend of either nylon or polyester and spandex or elastane for the best swimwear.
This Tricot fits snuggly and has excellent recovery too. Not to mention how tough synthetic fibers are. In addition, Tricot is a quick-drying fabric.
- Sports Gear
Giant brand names in activewear, like Adidas, make some of their sports gear out of Tricot. It is comfortable, breathable, and fits well without restricting motion.
Therefore you can stretch, run, jog, skip, dance, and sweat it out in your DIY Tricot gear. It is breathable and moisture-wicking, keeping you cool and dry.
You can use a 4-way stretch Tricot fabric to make jogging and yoga pants, sports bras, dance costumes, bodysuits, leggings, and vests.
- Everyday Wear
Tricot has evolved tremendously and is a versatile fabric that lends itself to being used for nearly every type of clothing. And since the weave is not specific to particular fibers, Tricot has found its way into the closet as everyday wear.
The heavier opaque Tricot fabrics are ideal for outerwear. You can pull off a skirt, dress, pants, and jacket using Tricot made from cotton, linen, rayon, and wool blends.
Not many people are aware of this next use of Tricot fabric. It’s the choice of fabric for the inner lining of many travel bags and suitcases, as well as storage boxes for clothing and jewelry.
Tricot is a durable fabric which is a plus considering how the lining of bags is susceptible to wearing out quickly from snags, tears, and abuse from frequent use of the bag. Tricot is resilient and also snag and run-resistant, which makes it the perfect fabric for a lining.
In addition, Tricot is also used as a lining for heavy jackets, coats, and other warm-weather clothing. That’s because the fabric has excellent breathability and also wicks away moisture, so you keep warm without getting drenched in sweat.
The type of Tricot used for lining is normally not the stretchy type.
- Fabric Crafts
There is certainly a noticeable increase in the number of DIY crafters opting for Tricot fabric for crafting. Well, it produces superb results, just like expensive fabrics but for a fraction of the price.
So why not take advantage of all that goodness to make scrunchies, fabric wreaths, and doll clothes, among other fabric-based projects?
That was a wealth of information to process. Let’s quickly recap the main points.
- Tricot is a warp knit fabric made from a flatbed knitting machine by interlocking loops. It features a ribbed zigzag look.
- It has a soft feel, an easy drape, and stretches. Tricot is also form-fitting with great recovery memory and has good stability.
- It is not a fiber-specific fabric and can be made from anything though nylon and polyester are the dominant Tricot fabric fibers.
- Among its properties are crease-resistant, run and snag-resistant, great tensile strength, breathable, comfortable, and moisture-wicking.
- It is easy to care for and only requires washing in cool water and air drying. Heat is Tricot’s enemy.
- Tricot is relatively cheap, and you can use it for making swimwear, intimates, activewear, outerwear, fabric crafts, and inner lining.
And that is what Tricot fabric is all about. We hope you can now confidently put it in your cart the next time you are fabric shopping and enjoy it.
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