While picking the type of material you’d like to use is an essential part of the process, few people consider whether they need a knit or woven fabric. While the difference is slight, the difference for the finished garment is significant. Fit, patterns, and durability all come into play.
First, we have to talk about what knit and woven are. Woven fabrics are made by weaving multiple threads over and under each other in a criss-cross pattern. Because the edge of this fabric isn’t secured in any way, it can unravel. We’ll talk about the implications of this later. Here is an example of what a woven fabric would look like up close:
Knit, on the other hand, is similar to the way someone would hand knit yarn. It is made of one piece of thread that is made of interlocking loops, so it doesn’t form an edge. Here a diagram of a knit fabric up close:
Now that we know the difference between the two, let’s talk about what that means for your garment!
One of the key differences between knit fabrics and woven fabrics is the amount of stretch that each fabric gives. Knit fabric stretches a lot when pulled by its width and some stretch when pulled by its length. Wovens, on the other hand, will give almost no stretch except on the diagonal. This is important when dealing with the kind of garment that you are trying to make.
Knit products are meant to stretch and often have no fasteners like a zipper or button you can use to put it on. So if you are producing a pull-over shirt, chances are you’re going to be using a knit fabric. However, for something that doesn’t need to give a lot of stretch like pants or a button up shirt you should be using a woven fabric.
Because of the way each is constructed, the edge of the piece of fabric has to be treated in different ways. Have you noticed that sometimes your t-shirts will curl at the bottom or the color will become wavy? That’s because it’s made using knit fabrics. Because of the amount of stretch that knit fabrics give, the edges often curl and become deformed. However, this is just the nature of the material, so there really isn’t a way to avoid this.
Woven fabrics don’t have the problem of curling or deforming; however, they can easily unravel because they are constructed by just weaving different pieces over and under the other. To battle this, the edge needs to be finished by adding a stitch at the end.