Design

Knits vs Wovens

November 14, 2014


Our fashion and design contributor Greg Cordeiro of New England Outerwear presents the following comparison: Knits vs Wovens: "There are endless possibilities when designing, buying, or choosing a textile. Two of the most common textile constructions and most often referred to in apparel today are knits and wovens. You may be thinking, 'so what are the advantages and disadvantages?' or 'How can I tell the difference?'"

A knit fabric is created by repeating one continuous yarn in a looped pattern that appears like tiny rows of braids. The knit is patterned by a series of connected yarns being spun in a weft and warp direction. Warp refers to the longitudinal thread and weft is the horizontal or opposite thread. A knit is either sold as a tube or flat. Since a flat knit is a continuous pattern of loops, the factory will often use different methods on the edge of the flat so that the fabric does not become unwound. There are many different machines and hand made options for creating a knit. Utilizing a mixture of materials and loop formations allows for endless possibilities.

A woven is created when two sets of threads are interlaced within each other to produce a fabric. These threads typically make up what appears as a crisscross pattern using the warp and weft directional method. Wovens must be finished on the edges using any variety of techniques such as a selvage or zig-zag stitching because they may unravel easily if not.

There are not necessarily advantages or disadvantages with either fabric when comparing side by side, but each serves better specific purposes for its own end use. Knits will have more stretch, and in most directions because of the loop formation. Wovens will have more stretch on the bias or diagonal of the fabric as opposed to vertically and horizontally. The dimensional stability is stronger in a woven than a knit because of the construction and density of the fabric. This means, a woven is more likely to maintain and retain its original composure compared to a knit. Although a woven is stronger, it will tend to be a bit thinner and lighter than a knit, which can be thicker and softer. All of these characteristics and more allow for the designer of a product to choose accordingly with their desired end use of the fabric.

—Greg Cordeiro is the founder of New England Outerwear, and a new contributor to Juxtapoz Magazine.