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The Two Main Fabrics Types (And What you Need to Know about Them)

Posted by Kara Ballinger on

The Two Main Fabrics Types (And What you Need to Know about Them)

The Two  Main Fabric Types

Start looking at tags on clothing and housewares in your possession and you will find a lot of different fabric types. And although they all have a place and purpose—I want to keep this super simple. Fabrics are divided into two main categories – Knit and Woven.

What is Knit Fabric?

Knit fabric is fabric created from fibers being knitted together. It is made from one continuous thread being looped together.  Because of the nature of how the fabric is constructed, knit fabrics generally have more stretch and don’t fray around the edges.

Common Types of Knit Fabrics:

Types of knit fabric would be

  • jersey
  • double brushed poly
  • fleece
  • ponte
  • French terry
  • ribbing

 When to use Knit Fabrics:

Knit fabrics are great for clothing including t-shirts, leggings, sweatshirts, sweaters, joggers, and underwear. Any of your clothes that are stretchy are made from knit fabric.

  

Pros:

  • Knit fabric will stretch and return to its original shape. That makes it ideal for neckbands, armbands, etc.
  • Knit fabric doesn’t fray, so it makes finishing and hemming the edges easy
  • It’s quicker to work with because it’s easier to finish.
  • Because of the stretch, there often isn’t a need for the more advanced techniques like adding buttons and zippers.

Cons:

  • The edges of knit fabric won’t fray, but they can roll. This can make it difficult to work with. At The Hive Makery, I source high quality knits for all the sewing kits because the higher quality knit tends to roll less around the edges and make sewing much easier.
  • When working with knit fabrics, it’s often necessary to use a stretch stitch so that the stitches can stretch when the fabric does. A stretch stitch can be trickier to use when first starting out with sewing.
  • You’ll need to switch your sewing machine needle to a stretch needle to get the best results with knits. 

What is Woven Fabric?

Woven fabric is any textile that is made by weaving two fibers together. It has fibers that run parallel and perpendicular to the edges of the fabric. Woven fabrics generally do not have much, if any, stretch to them.

 

Common Types of Woven Fabrics:

Types of woven fabric would be

  • quilting cotton,
  • poplin,
  • chambray,
  • linen,
  • cotton lawn
  • broadcloth

When to use Woven Fabrics:

Woven fabrics can be used for a large variety of projects such as pillowcases, quilts, curtains, bags, burp clothes, bibs, etc. Woven fabrics can also be used to make clothing – just make sure that the pattern you are using is made for woven fabrics. Common clothing items made from woven fabrics would be aprons, button up dress shirts, jackets, and pinafores.

 

Pros:

  • Woven fabric is usually stable enough for attaching zippers and buttons. While this is a more advanced technique, it can add a lot of style to your projects.
  • You can use a straight stitch when working with woven because the stitch doesn’t need to be able to stretch. The straight stitch is the easiest stitch to use.
  • A universal needle will work well with woven, so there is no need to switch to a special needle.

Cons:

  • The edges of woven cotton will fray. Because of this, it is more complicated to hem and finish edges.
  • Woven cotton doesn’t stretch which means that it will not work for neckbands, certain sleeves, etc. and limits the type of garment you can make with it.

One way to test out different fabric types is with our Practice Pack. It includes 5 different types of fabric (3 knit and 2 woven) and a simple tutorial of a skill to practice with each one. You can purchase the Practice Pack here.


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