Knit vs Woven Fabric: What’s the Difference

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Fabric is made with various materials, likes cotton, linen, rayon, bamboo, spandex,viscose and polyester etc.However,the all fabrics can falls into two main fabric types: knit or woven.

What Is a Knit Fabric and Woven Fabric?

Knit fabric is a textile that made from interlocking yarn together with long needles. Knit fabric has two kinds of categories: weft knitting and warp knitting. Manufacturers use knit fabric to make items like t-shirts and shorts, sportswear, swimwear, leggings, rompers, sweaters, sweatshirts, and cardigans.

Knit Fabric Photo
Knit Fabric
Woven Fabric Photo
Woven Fabric

Woven fabric is a textile that made from weaving two sets of yarn together. Woven fabric has three kids of weaving ways: plain weave, twill weave, and satin weave.Manufacturers use looms to weave vertical warp threads and horizontal weft threads together to create woven fabric. Woven fabric is a common textile for structured items like button up shirts, suit,trousers, jeans, denim jackets.

How to Tell if a Fabric Is Knit or Woven?

Here are a few ways to identify whether a fabric is knit or woven: Look at the threads. If you look closely at the fabric, you can see the individual threads on the fabric, If the threads appear to have loops then it is knit; if the threads have a criss-cross pattern then it is woven.
Check for stretch. Knit fabrics always have much more stretch than woven fabrics. Try to stretch the fabric both length and width, then you would find knit fabric good on stretch.

Do a wrinkle test. Squeeze a little bit of the fabric in the palm of your hand. The knit fabric will spring back quickly into shape with few wrinkles; but woven fabric will retain the wrinkles and often remain slightly crumpled.

What Is the Features of Knit Fabric and Woven Fabric?

Both of knit and woven fabric has 6 features. Lets refer to the knit fabric as below.

  • Stretchy and flexible.As knit fabric forms from a series of loops, it’s good on stretchy and can stretch both in width and length. The knit fabric type works well for form-fitting clothing items like underwear, shirt, baby clothes.
  • Wrinkle-resistant. Because of knit fabric’s elasticity, it’s very wrinkle-resistant you can crumple it into a ball in your hand then release, the fabric will spring back into much the same shape it had before.
  • Cozy Soft. Most knit fabrics are soft when touch skins. The tight-knit fabric would feel smooth; and looser-knit fabric will feel bumpy or ridged due to the fabric pattern.
  • Easy to maintain.Knit fabric can easily handle machine washing,this kind fabric type do not require ironing, due to the wrinkle-resistant functions.
  • Easy to damage. Knit fabric isn’t as durable as woven fabric, and it will eventually begin to stretch out or pill after wear.
  • Difficult to sew. Knit fabric is much harder to sew than non-stretchy fabrics, no matter by hand or machine sewing ,the fabric will be stretched while to stitch straight lines without gathers and puckers.

And Lets talk the 6 Characteristics of woven fabric

  • Very structured. Woven fabric usually has lots of structure, it can retain the shape since it is not soft and stretch. The woven fabric is also not very stretchy if without knitted with spandex material.
  • Susceptible to wrinkles and crease. Because its farbic structure, woven fabric will get wrinkles and creases easily, it has to frequently ironing to look smooth and pristine.
  • Often coarse. Woven fabric is made with strands which is not soft as knits, then fabric is slightly coarse hand feeling.
  • Durable. Woven fabric is durable, maintaining on the shape after many times washes and resisting pilling.
  • Easy to sew. Due to woven fabric is not very stretchy, it is easy to sew without getting gathers or puckers.
  • Expensive. Weaving fabric takes time-intensive process than knitting. Usually woven fabrics tend to be more expensive to buy, either as fabric or made into clothing.

The Common Examples of Knit Fabric and Woven Fabric

Let’s learn some common types of two kinds of fabric. Firstly is the Knit fabric include:

  • Jersey knit: Jersey is a soft, stretchy knit fabric which is originally made from wool. Now jersey is also made from cotton, cotton blends, bamboo, and polyester fibers. The front side of jersey knit fabric is smooth with a single slight rib knit, while the backside of jersey is looks as loops. Jersey shirt is the classic and popular clothes made with jersey fabric.
  • Rib-knit: Rib-knit features long vertical columns of knit and purl stitch, forming tight, stretchy rows, fabric back and front side are same.The rib singlet and onesie are from rib fabric.
  • French terry knit: French terry knit fabric is on one side and loops on one side. This fabric is commonly used in the making of hoodie, robe because it’s incredibly soft and plush.
  • Fleece knit: Fleece knit is a knit fabric that is usually brushed on one or both sides to disrupt the fibers and create a soft, fleece texture.Fleece fabric used in home items like fleece blanket, plush toys/
  • Interlock knit: Interlock knit is a variation of rib knit in which both sides of the fabric have the smooth, but right-side feel of flat knit, and it is goods on stretch and tight then rib fabric.The long Pajamas set and baby romper,bodysuit commonly used with interlock fabric.
  • Jacquard knit: Jacquard knit is a single-knit or double-knit fabric, then it features as complex pattern to make using the Jacquard controls on knitting machine.Jacquard fabric is widely used for sofa, house curtain etc.
  • Velour knit: Velour knit is a type of pile knitted fabric with small loops which are cut to create a super soft, plush feel.The velour is used for Winter hoodie, fleece coat, blanket etc.

And here is the common types of woven fabric

  • Corduroy: Corduroy is a twill weave fabric, which means the threads are woven together in diagonal lines with thick vertical ribs. Corduroy can be thick or thin, durable, and cozy, the fabric has unique ability to look both dressed up and fell cozy, it used for overall, jacket and coat etc.
  • Denim: Denim also is a twill-weave fabric where the weft yarn is usually woven underneath two or three warp yarns; then the warp threads are usually dyed indigo while the weft is left undyed, makes the denim a blue appearance.Denim fabric is always popular for pant, coat, vest etc.
  • Poplin: Poplin fabric is a plain weave fabric with fine warp yarns and coarser weft yarns. The poplin fabric is very lightweight, with a light, airy drape,widely used on bed-sheet, collar shirt, pant..
  • Flannel: It is loosely woven twill or plain fabric is often brushed on one or both sides to raise fine fibers and make it as fleece surface.Flannel has soft feeling and used for baby blanket, Winter blanket, toy etc.
  • Chiffon: Chiffon is a plain weave fabric that is thin and sheer. The sheer fabric can be woven from a variety of textile types, like silk, nylon, rayon, or even polyester.The Summer dress and shirt in fashion pattern most come from Chiffon.
  • Muslin: Muslin is a loosely-woven knitted cotton fabric. It’s made using the plain weave way, which means that a single weft thread alternates over and under a single warp thread. Muslin is known as the material used in baby newborn items and fashion photo test pattern.
  • Cheesecloth: Cheesecloth fabric is a plain-weave fabric that use as a tool in the making of cheese. The fabric is loose weave and allows liquid to strain easily through it.Cheesecloth is used for Summer fashion like shirt, dress and set.
  • Velvet: Velvet is made on a special loom known as a double cloth, which produces two velvet pieces simultaneously. This luxurious fabric can be woven in any weave structure like plain, satin, or twill with an extra set of warp threads to create a soft feel.Velvet fabric widely used for Winter sleeperwear.
  • Organza: Organza is a lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric that was originally made from silk. Now it can be made from synthetic fibers like primarily polyester and nylon.It usually use for fashion women dress or evening party dress.

Which one is better?

Well, both fabrics have their benefits. Knits are faster to work with because you don’t need to sew seams, insert zips or apply buttons.But they are trickier to handle and stretching when you work on them.

While sewing it needs to use different techniques with each fabric. When you are sewing with knits fabric you will use stretch stitches on the sewing machine. You will also need to change the needles, using a ball point or stretch needle for knit fabric and a universal or sharp needle for woven fabric. We can not say which one is better,but we can know how to select the best suitable fabrics when you have designs on hand.

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