Fabric 101, Knit or Woven and Why.
Fabric Construction - Knit or Woven, that is the question!
Chances are you’ve heard about Clarity, Cut and Colour being the big three C words for choosing diamonds, so here comes the three D of a good garment!
Design - details, shape and silhouette
Dimensions - correct sizing, overall size of the garment, and
Drape – this is how the fabric hangs, does it cling, float off the body or move, create straight lines or curves?
Design, dimensions and drape work together to create garments that either wow or go straight back on the rack. Designers have many starting points for their work but often it’s the fabric and how it handles that inspires the design.
Understanding how fabrics are made comes down to the type of Fibre – natural, man made or synthetic [For more info on fibre types check out the next Fabrics 101 Blog post.]
Fibres are wound together into Yarns – fine, thick, textured etc which are then used to make the fabric. The three main methods of fabric construction are knitting, woven or bonded.
Designs catch the eye then dimensions are checked either online or by trying it on. Once it’s on the fabric drape or how it moves and the shapes it makes all contribute to how it feels and sits on the body.
The most significant thing influencing drape is whether the fabric is a knit or woven construction.
In the old days it was easy to say knit fabrics would stretch and drape well creating curves and comfort and that woven fabrics were less comfortable, more rigid and less likely to stretch.
Each type is equally valuable depending on the look the designer has in mind. This is still kind of true but new technologies and fibres have changed the ability of fabrics to stretch so it’s a little harder to identify whether a fabric is a knit or woven. The biggest clue is that knit constructions always have a series of loops on the reverse side of the fabric.
Woven fabrics usually feel stiffer than knits and are made from two yarns known as a warp and weft which are interlaced just like the weaving you probably did at primary school.
Another trick to tell knits and wovens apart is the scrunch test which you can do near the hem of the garment. Just take a handful of fabric and squeeze for 10 seconds then let it rest for a minute. You will normally find knits release the creases much more easily than woven fabrics, and yes, this means the knits are less likely to need ironing!
Knits are usually softer and more comfortable to wear which is why underwear is almost always constructed from knit fabrics meaning garments using knit fabric are more likely to stretch and can go out of shape after being worn. Thanks to the addition of elastane, they usually restore their shape easily which makes them great for travel and sporting wardrobes.
Woven fabrics can float over the body and being less figure hugging can be more flattering. A good example is a classic linen dress where the fabric sits off the body and skims the curves. Woven fabrics are definitely best for garments with a more structured, triangular or square silhouettes.
For ultimate comfort and design interest there are garments using both knit and woven fabrics with knits used in areas where the body moves such as around the back and arms on jackets.
Whether the fabric is knit or woven the fibre type influences how the garment looks and performs so check out our next blog to understand more about how different fibre types affect the wear experience of your clothes.
Happy Garment Shopping Everyone :)