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Fabric Information
  Knits

 [top]   

Knits are fabrics that are constructed by knitting yarns together.  There are many types of knits on the market, and to make things more complicated, retailers have created additional names to further characterize basic knits by either weights, content or finish. 

For the most part, there are 2 types of knits -- double-knits interlock and rib knit, and single knits -- jerseys and fleeces. 

Identifying the type of Knit.

If you can't tell the difference, don't feel bad -- most clerks in fabric stores cant' either!  The best way to familiarize yourself is to look in your closet.  An expensive knit top ($20 or more) will likely be interlock, everyday tees will are made with jersey, and girls leggings or men's/boys fitted briefs with rib knit.

The face looks more or less the same on all 3 fabrics -- they all have have small vertical ribs.  Go to the back of the fabric and and gently pull the across the stretch.  Interlock will look more or less the same on the face and back,  jersey has a wavy purl pattern that runs perpendicular to the face rib.   If you're still not sure, cut a piece from selvedge to selvedge, if it's jersey the cut edge will curl on itself, interlock and rib will lay flat.

Side Interlock Rib knit Jersey
Face
Back

  Jersey Interlock RibKnit
Softness Soft Softest Soft
Durability Excellent Good Good
Drape Good Best Good
Uses Everyday Tees, shorts, dresses, lining, sleepwear Elegant Tees, shorts, dresses, lining, sleepwear Tight tees, skirts,  dresses, leggings, underwear, collars and cuffs
Stability Unstable, curls when cut, can  run (like nylon stockings) from cut edges. Stable, cut ends will lay flat, will not run. Stable, cut ends will lay flat, will not run.
Pros Durable, less pilling, easy washing Soft, elegant drape Soft, elegant drape
Cons Not as soft as interlock, not as warm.

Seams curl, before and after sewing, C/L blends especially tricky.

Requires more care in laundering (to keep pilling down) Ribknits with no lycra may stretch out over time.

Requires more care in laundering (to keep pilling down)
Needle Selection:

BE SURE TO USE BALLPOINT NEEDLES FOR KNITS- SHARP, MICROTEX AND UNIVERSAL NEEDLES WILL CAUSE SEAMS TO FAIL OVER TIME.  THIS IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT FOR SINGLE KNITS LIKE JERSEY AND JOGGING FLEECE & ALL KNITS WITH A HIGH NATURAL FIBER CONTENT (COTTON, RAYON, LYOCELL, CONTENT...)
 

Flannels  [top]   

Flannels are woven fabrics, usually made from 100% cotton.  They are used for sleepwear, bedding, jacket linings, and diapers/nappies and as a construction or absorbent material.

Flannels may be napped on one side, or both.  There are several types of flannels:

Diaper Flannel (obsolete)

The name diaper flannel  simply describes regular flannel woven 27" wide.  This was popular way back because the flatfold diapers of yesteryear were 27" x 27".  This, and the larger 36" widths are obsolete today as they produce too much cutting waste for modern diapers. 

Double Napped Flannel, Super Flannel

Flannel that is heavily napped on both sides.  This is available in a wide range of solid colors, and not usually available in prints as the prints look very fuzzy on this type of flannel.

Yarn Dyed

This is a flannel made from dyed yarns.  It's the best for shirts, pants and linings since it pills less, has a softer hand than solids and prints.  Yarn dyeds are available in square plaid patterns.

PUL - Polyurethane Laminate

"pee-u-l" or "pull" is a phrase coined diaper makers for thermo polyurethane film laminated to a knit or woven fabric.  The primary application for PUL is hospital curtains and fluid barriers however it has also found a market with small scale diapers makers.

Polar Fleece

Polar fleece is polyester fleece

  • MICRO FLEECE is any polar fleece made with microfiber yarns.  

Weight Conversions
 

Trade name g/yd oz/yd
100 250-300 7.5-9
200 350-400 10-13.5
300 400-500 14-18

 

Threads  

Thread, comes in polyester,  cotton, and poly/cotton blends.  Polyester thread is the universal standard. 

  • Serger Thread
  • Wooly Nylon
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Jeans Thread
Elastics  

Swimsuit or Swimwear Elastic This is a cotton/rubber or cotton/lycra woven elastic that is soft and durable. It will break down in when subject to chlorine (swimming pools, laundry bleach).  This has all but been replaced by polyurethane elastic. 

Fold-Over Elastic (FOE) Use it in place of bias tape around the edges of arm and leg openings.  

Polyurethane elastic (Lastin / Mobilon) This is a durable clear sew through elastic that is used on swimsuits, lingerie, and diapers. You should pre-stretch this elastic by fully extending it 3 times before sewing. 

Machine Needles  

There are a lots of different machine needles available.  You project will finish better if you use use the correct needle type for fabric you are sewing.

Knits generally need ball point needles.  Ball point needles will not break the yarns so you can all but eliminate pinholes and runs in the fabric.

Woven's generally need sharp/universal needles. 

Appliqué - Embellishment on a garment where decoration is made by cutting pieces of one material and applying them to the surface of another.

Bird's Eye - A fabric woven with a pattern of small diamonds.

Burley Knit Terry
, is not a type of fabric.  Retailers serving the home diapering market use this term to spice up the description of 3-end French terry knit in 16oz and higher weights.  

Chambray - A class of yarn-dyed, plain-weave fabrics with a colored warp and white filling. Most often produced in soft blue tomes (looks like faded blue jean denim).

Chenille - Soft, fuzzy yarns stand out around a velvety cord on this fabric, whose name comes from the French word for "caterpillar."

Chintz - A printed and glazed fabric, usually cotton.

Crêpe - Used to describe all kinds of fabrics--wool, cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blends-that have a crinkly, crimped or grained surface. From the French word creper, which means "to crimp or frizz."

Crêpe de chine - A fine, lightweight crepe.

Crochet - Loose, open knit made by looping thread with a hooked needle. Used for light, summer sweaters.

Decitex - The international standard for yarn weight measurement. Decitex is defined as the weight in grammes of 10,000 meters of yarn.

Effect Thread - Yarns inserted into a fabric, that are sufficiently different to the surrounding yarns, to form or enhance a pattern.

Elastomer - Any polymer showing rubber-like elastic properties.  This includes Lycra and Spandex.

Engineered print - Also called a placed print because it is integrated into a specific area of the design. Border prints are often engineered into place.

Facing - A piece of fabric sewn to the inside of a garment for lining purposes or to add structure to the garment.

Faille - A dressy, flat-ribbed fabric with a light luster that drapes and tailors well. The ribs are flatter and less pronounced than in grosgrain. Traditionally used for women's dresses, suits and coats.

Feedstripe - Knit fabric where a stripe pattern is produced by the way colored yarns are fed into the knitting machine. Also know as Yarn Dyed. 

Fleece - (also called Jogging fleece, or sweatshirt fleece.)  This is a knit fabric, usually in cotton or poly cotton that has napped terry loops on one or both sides.  There are several variations that and finish types for fleeces. 

French terry, French Fleece - A circular knit fabric with a looped pile back and smooth face. This constructs like jogging fleece.

Gabardine - Durable, tightly woven fabric made in a twill weave with distinct diagonal ribs and given a clean finish. Made of cotton, wool or rayon, gabardine wears extremely well. Commonly used for sportswear, suits, uniforms and raincoats.

Georgette - A sheer, lightweight plain-weave fabric with a fine crepe surface. Sometimes silk, sometimes synthetic. Also called crepe georgette or georgette crepe.

Hopsack - A loosely woven coarse fabric of cotton or wool used in clothing. Hop growers originally used the fabric for bags.

Intarsia - A flat knit fabric with solid-colored, geometric patterns. The sides of the fabric are identical.

Interlock - a type of cut and sew knit fabric that is characterized by the interconnecting of the knit stitches.

Jacquard - Elaborate woven or knitted pattern. The system for producing these fabrics was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in France in 1801. Some jacquard fabrics have specific names (e.g., brocade, damask and tapestry).

Jersey - A generic term for a plain knit fabric without a distinct rib. Originally made of wool, jersey fabric was first manufactured on the island of Jersey.

Lyocell (aka Polinosic, and Tencel ), an organic rayon derivatives, spun to create the densest, tightest, and finest yarn possible.  Offers greater color brilliance, softer hand and more wrinkle resistant than other organic fibers.

Lycra® - DuPont's registered trademark for its brand of elastic fiber.  Same type of fiber as Spandex.

Marled yarn - Two single yarns of different colors twisted together. You see this mottled effect most often in sweaters.

Matte jersey - A dull, flat knit fabric made of fine crepe yarns.  Most popular in travel and permanent press or easy care dresses, slacks and skirts.

Microfibre - Generic term for any synthetic fiber finer than silk. Fabrics made with microfibres are soft, lightweight, breathable and durable.

Picot - A small embroidered loop forming an ornamental edging on a ribbon or lace.

Pinpoint oxford - Lightweight, soft, cotton-like fabric with a small 2x1 basket (rib) weave repeats. High quality. Very smooth surface; used for shirts.

Piqué - A knitted cotton fabric with a waffle, or diamond-shaped, pattern. French piqué knits became an international favorite when René Lacoste, a 1920's French tennis champion, designed the polo shirt. Also called Lacoste.

Pointelle - A basic ribknit  made with a pattern of dainty openings. Typically femenine..

Polar Fleece
- A generic name for polyester spun filament fleeces.  Most polar fleeces are finished with a velour good side and a fleeced inside. These fabrics are popular for sleep and outerwear.  Content is usually polyester and often contain recycled fibers.  Note: there are a wide range of grades in polar fleeces and no standard grading or rating system for this fabric. We recommend 10oz and up for garments, and 14oz for outerwear.

Poplin
- A durable, plain weave fabric similar to broadcloth but with a heavier rib and heavier weight. Made of silk, cotton, synthetic fibers, wool or blends.

Ripstop - A fabric woven with a double thread at regular intervals so that small tears do not spread.

Rayon - A manufactured natural fibre made from wood cellulose. It is soft, absorbent and drapes well. Also known as Viscose.

Sateen - A semi-lustrous surface distinguishes this smooth, durable fabric in a satin weave. Sateen is usually made of cotton.

Schiffli - A type of embroidery characterized by vine-like floral pattern on sheer/mesh-like fabrics, named after the type of machine it is produced on (Schiffli machine).

Seersucker - A popular warm-weather cotton fabric with permanent woven crinkled stripes.

Shantung - Medium weight, plain weave, silk-like fabric with pronounced slub filling yarns (slub means yarns are uneven or nubby). Used for dresses.

Sherpa, describes a type of surface texture used as a finish on knit terry. The term 'Sherpa' comes from the the pebbled chunky finish found on traditional woven wool and sheared sheepskin fleeces that have been used for centuries my Tibetan Sherpas.  Sherpa is often misused by specialty retailers to describe thick weight jogging fleece and lightly napped french terry textiles.   This is particularly common in retailers serving the diaper market who often mix up finishes and local colloquial names for fabrics to spice up their fabric descriptions. ( and terms like Nantuckut, Burley Knit Terry etc.)

Shot effect - A color effect produced in fabrics woven with a warp yarn of one colour and a weft yarn of a contrasting color.

Tencel (aka Polinosic, Lyocell ), an organic rayon derivatives, spun to create the densest, tightest, and finest yarn possible.  Offers greater color brilliance, softer hand and more wrinkle resistant than other organic fibers.

Terry - A fabric with loop pile on one or both sides.

Toile
- Light/medium weight, plain weave, fine, cotton-type fabric, usually with one colored printed scenic design. Used mostly for home furnishings, clothing, etc.

Twill - A fabric that shows a distinct diagonal wale on the face (e.g., denim, gabardine, tricotine). Can be knit, but is typically woven.

Velour - Soft plush fabric with a close, dense pile.

Wicking -  refers to a fabric's tendency to disburse moisture rather than absorbing it. 

Weft Knits - Weft is a type of knitting in which yarns run horizontally, from side to side, across the width of the fabric.

Velvet - A short, closely woven cut pile fabric with a rich, soft texture.

Viscose - A manufactured fibre made of regenerated cellulose. It is soft, absorbent and drapes well. Also known as Rayon

Voile - A lightweight, sheer fabric with a crisp, wiry hand.

 

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