Characteristics of Knitted Fabrics

knitted fabrics

You’ve just picked up a pattern you can’t wait to make.

You realize that the pattern requires knit fabrics only, but you’re still fairly new to different types of fabrics. Not sure where to start and what to buy? Don’t be discouraged. Knit fabrics are versatile and fairly simple to work with.

First off, knitting is the construction of an elastic, porous fabric, which is created by interlocking yarn in one continuous loop.

There are several unique characteristics of knitted fabrics that make them preferable to woven fabrics, or those that are made by weaving together two or more threads. Knit’s properties are distinct from other fabrics in that they are durable, stretchy, lightweight, and comparatively cheaper to manufacture. In fact, different types of knits are used in everything from t-shirts to swimwear.

Here are a few reasons why you might choose a knit when buying fabrics for your next sewing project.

10. Comparatively cheaper

Since the manufacturing process of knits is fairly simple, they can be made more quickly and easily than woven fabrics. Because of the higher production speed and reduction of steps, knits are more cost effective to produce.

9. Manufacturing process is easier

Producing knit fabrics has fewer steps than woven fabrics. The production speed to make a knit fabric is much faster (2 to 16 yards per minute) than woven fabrics (0.5 to 6 yards per minute).

8. Come in every color

colors of knitted fabrics

While there are plenty of knitting projects that never use more than a single color of yarn, there are also several ways to work in colors.

Some yarns are dyed to change color every few stitches (variegated) or every few rows (self-striping).

Multiple shades of the same hue is called ombre, which is a popular color style for fabrics, clothing, and even hair!

Heathered yarns typically contain small amounts of different colored fibres, while tweeds have a greater number of different colored fibres.

Every color palette you can think of is possible to create with knit fabrics.

7. Most require little care

Many knit fabrics require very little care to keep their appearance neat and in good shape. Each type of knit does vary with care, however. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • Cotton knits are usually safe to machine wash cold and tumble dry low or lay flat to dry.
  • Polyester knits vary greatly by manufacturer, but in general you don’t want to let polyester get too hot or else it will melt. Thus, wash cold and skip the dryer.
  • Rayon knits should be hand-washed. Since rayon fibers weaken when wet, limit how often you wash these fabrics.
  • Nylon knits are those used in swimwear and activewear. Similar to polyester knits, nylon knits also shouldn’t be put in the dryer. Also, pass on the bleach since the mix of spandex in most nylons will have an adverse reaction. You don’t want to turn those whites into yellow! Consider handwashing, especially with swimwear.
  • Wool knits, while beautiful are a little more high maintenance in care. Hand wash cold and skip the dryer. Lay flat to dry, since hanging wool knits might result in misshapen or stretched garments. With wool, you should be careful when storing so as to avoid moths. Buy some mothballs when packing away your winter storage.
  • Silk knits also require special care. Hand wash them in cold water and either hang to dry or lay them out flat. Don’t leave silk soaking in water and don’t wring them out when drying. On the plus side, silks can usually be taken to the dry cleaner to make life easier.
  • Linen knits are easy to wash. Many are machine washable, but hang to dry. If you need to iron out wrinkles, with linen pants for example, leave them slightly damp before ironing.

6. Comfortable

The stretchy, soft feel of knits makes them comfortable to wear for all occasions, but especially great choices as travel and workout clothes. This fabric can be dressed up or down and as a bonus is forgiving of many different body types.

5. Lightweight

Knits won’t weigh you down, with their lightweight fit. This means that even in the heat of summer, you can wear t-shirts and thin cardigans made of knit fabrics.

4. Elastic nature

stretching knits

Since knit fabric is made from one continuous thread, it is able to stretch in all directions.

When stretched along its width, it stretches significantly. Stretched along its length, it stretches only slightly. Don’t stretch a knit too much or you risk creating runs in the fabric.

Woven fabrics don’t stretch nearly as much; stretching minimally on its width and not at all on its length.

As such, knit fabrics are typically used for activewear and swimwear. Their elastic nature allows for lots of physical activity without detriment to your clothing.

3. Wrinkle resistant

If you ball up a knit, it will crush easily. When you release it, the fabric will spring back into shape without wrinkles. A woven fabric, on the other hand, will wrinkle easily when balled up and released.

The tendency of knits to resist wrinkling makes them a popular choice for clothing. Just think, no more ironing!

2. Can be constructed into small pieces

Since the construction of knitted fabrics makes them able to be used in smaller pieces, this means that they are ideal for making hats, mittens, socks, and hosiery.

1. Don’t form runs

lingerie knits

Knitted fabrics are produced by one of two general methods: warp knitting or weft knitting. Both methods result in a variety of types of fabrics.

Weft-knit fabrics are more common, because they are easier to make. When cut, these will unravel, or run, unless immediately repaired.

Warp-knit fabrics, however, are resistant to runs. These are still relatively easy to sew. Think of tricot and milanese, popular warp-knit fabrics that are used in lingerie.

by Info Guru Samantha Rose

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *