Knit Fabric and Woven Fabric Defined

I’m starting my ‘advanced’ sewing students on sewing knit fabrics this week.  Wanting to make the ‘shopping’ clear for the Moms, AND in working with other sewers, it has become clear to me that many simply don’t realize the difference between knitted and woven fabrics – so here are some ‘basics’ for your understanding.

Note:  click on the images below and they will enlarge for easier reading!

Woven Fabrics – Defined 

Think back to weaving construction paper strips in Kindergarten.  That is weaving.  Lay down vertical pieces (in fabric, ‘yarns’) – those are the WARP threads.

Weave in crosswise yarns:  over – under – over – under, alternating the rows.  Those are the horizontal threads – the WEFT.

Warp yarns are stronger than weft yarns.  Hence, puckered vertical grain seams.  Read/hear more at this Blog Post HERE.

A cotton man’s dress shirt is probably a plain WOVEN fabric, as is the fabric in most quilts, etc.  Usually, this fabric needs to be ironed after laundering to look good, though ‘perma press’ finishes applied to the fabric can change that.

Some ‘woven’ fabrics can have the STRETCH factor. For example, jeans with Lycra – which is a stretchy yarn), can still STRETCH, or have some ‘give’.  I know, this makes it all even more confusing.

Knitted Fabrics – Defined 

knitted fabrics

Think of your underwear or T-Shirts – these are undoubtedly KNITTED fabrics.  This is our world today – the comfort of Knits.  They are generally easier to care for, but take more skill to sew for the home sewer. As you can see in the image above, there are 2 types of knits:  Weft and Warp.  Weft Knits are the ones you are likely most familiar with.

knit construction

Is it a ‘Single knit’ or a ‘Double Knit’??

single knits and double knits

Basically if the fabric looks DIFFERENT on each side, it is a SINGLE KNIT, like jersey T-shirt knits.

jersey knit close-up

When pulled on the crossgrain they will curl – usually (though NOT always) to the right side of the fabric.  See below how I’ve used that characteristic as trim on some garments.  Pull to get to curl, and then attach by stitching down the center.

jersey knits curl    curling to wrong side

Double Knits are made with 2 sets of needles, and look the SAME on both sides.  an ‘Interlock’ knit is a double knit, as is a ‘Ponte’.  These are generally heavier and easier to sew with – hence, on my supply list for my girls, I said to buy a DOUBLE KNIT fabric.

double knit fabric

Go take a look at the clothes in YOUR wardrobe.  I just ‘changed’ my wardrobe over from ‘Fall/Winter’ to ‘Spring/Summer’, and it is FULL of knits!  I’ll bet yours is too.  COMMENT with any and all questions.  I’ll be most happy to answer.  For more Textile (fabric) understanding, check out my PDF:  Textiles for the Seamstress.    It is chuck full of  helpful information if textiles interest you!  Just $12.

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