It can be tempting to choose fabric for your next sewing project or personal shopping spree based on how it looks or how it feels. You can choose a fabric based on how it looks and feels, but you also need to think about how it was made. For example, what is the difference between knit and woven fabric?
Knit vs. Woven
The main difference between knit and woven fabrics is that knit fabrics are made with twisted threads, while woven fabrics are made with two sets of threads that are crossed over each other. Any kind of fibre, from modern ones like polyester to old ones like silk and linen, can be used to make fabric. But no matter what kinds of materials go into making fabric, all fabric goes through one of these two ways of being made.
Aside from how the threads are set up, there are a few other easy ways to tell whether a piece of fabric is knit or woven. First of all, knit fabric is much more stretchy than braided fabric. Second, you can’t easily make a crease in knit fabric by pinching it between your fingers, but you can make a crease in woven fabric. Of course, each cloth has its own special qualities.
Woven fabric doesn’t stretch as much as knit fabric does. Cosy and skin-friendly women’s knitwear is very popular as it is stretchy and is the main choice for women who like to wear comfortable and stretchy clothes.
Woven cloth doesn’t have much stretch to it. It doesn’t stretch much either up or down or side to side, but it can stretch a little on the diagonal. Because of this, fashion designers sometimes cut knitted fabrics “on the bias,” or at an angle, to make them flow more like they were made for the body.
Most of the time, woven material is more structured than twisted material. Woven clothes usually need zippers or buttons to close them, because they won’t stretch enough to go over your head or up your legs without them.
Most of a fabric’s strength comes from the type of fibres it is made of, but woven fabric is stronger than knit fabric made from the same material.
Woven cloth is strong and holds its shape because of all the threads that cross each other. Knits can stretch out pretty easily. On the other hand, woven fabric frays more than knit fabric.
Most of the time, woven fabrics last much longer than knit fabrics. You might be surprised by this since t-shirts and many of your hardest clothes are made of cotton. But woven fabric can keep its shape and not pill, even after a lot of use and cleaning. Knit fabric, on the other hand, will finally stretch out, pill, and look bad.
Most of the time, it’s much easier to damage a woven fabric than a knitted fabric. Of course, this does depend a bit on the cloth. Woven silk, for example, needs to be dry cleaned in a special way, while your typical women’s knitwear can go straight into the washer. But, in general, the woven fabric will last longer than the knit fabric.
Knit fabric lets more air through than knotted fabric. The design of the twisted threads gives the air a lot of places to go. Woven material does have tiny gaps between the crossed threads, but it usually keeps you from getting too close to the air.
Breathability is also affected by many other things. Both knit and braided materials with finer threads tend to let more air through. How well a cloth breathes is also affected by how tight the knit or weave is. On top of that, the material itself has an effect on how well it breathes. Cotton, for example, will feel very airy whether it is knit or braided. Polyester, on the other hand, won’t breathe as well because its fibres aren’t porous.
Knit cloth almost always feels soft because of the way it is made. Most things that are woven have a firmer or even rougher feel. That doesn’t mean, though, that woven materials never feel soft. If you make ring-spun cotton into a tight satin weave, the surface will be soft and almost shiny. But a t-shirt made of Ringspun cotton knit into a jersey knit will feel soft and cushiony to the touch.
Again, the cloth makes a big difference in how soft something is. But it’s safe to say that knit material almost always feels soft and woven material doesn’t always feel soft.
Most of the time, the knit fabric will feel better than the woven fabric. Knit cloth is very comfortable because it is stretchy, and forms the body, and drapes. Depending on the type of material used and the style of the clothing, woven fabric can also feel very comfortable.
They are also very relaxing because the knit fabric is soft. Most of the comfortable clothes you wear at home, like t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts, are made of knit fabrics.
Both men’s and ladies’ knitwear is the clear winner when it comes to not getting wrinkles. This kind of material doesn’t wrinkle easily because it is made of loops and is flexible. On the other hand, knitted cloth can often catch and hold a crease very well.
As a fun fact, cloth wrinkles because heat and wetness change the hydrogen bonds inside the material. This lets the fibres change shape a little, which makes the material wrinkle.
Ease of Care
How easy it is to take care of knit and woven clothes depends on the materials they are made of. In terms of care, both types of cloth structure have their pros and cons.
Knits don’t get creased easily and don’t need to be ironed. Woven fabric, on the other hand, doesn’t pill or stretch out as much when it gets wet or dirty. But because it folds so easily, it often needs to be ironed.
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Living in a tiny home with her not so tiny family, Kate considers multitasking to be her power as a caring supermum and wife. Whenever she's not in curled up in her writer's corner, covering various topics on kids and baby stuff, health, education, knowledge, entertainment or interior decor, you'd find her enjoying some quality time with loved ones, both indoors and out, sharing different experiences together; what better way to chase a writer's block away, right?!