Part 1:Woven Fabric vs. The Other Kind

A quick course in separate parts, designed for those who would like to know some basics about modern clothing, and thus, how to choose good stuff. Articles will become more comprehensive as the series continues. Topic suggestions welcome. 
Q: What does "woven" mean and how is it different than a "knit?"

Woven as in 'weave' as in 'warp and weft' as in normal fabric.

There are three kinds of fabric in use these days, not counting some of the funky things NASA has done. (NB: NASA has some fabrics which have a triangular grain, rather than square, with three thread directions instead of two.)

Threads going over/under, over/under (or variations such as over, under, under, over.) Most work shirts are made with woven fabric. Denim is woven. Most bedsheets are woven. Woven things only stretch noticeably on the bias, ie on the diagonal between the threads that are 90' to each other.

Threads are knit on needles, and produce a fabric made of a bunch of little loops linked to each other. Sweaters are knits, Polo shirts are knits, women's swimsuits are usually knits. T-shirts are knit. Knit things stretch in most directions; some more than others, depending on the type of knit.

Nonwoven things
These are things that don't have threads as such, they are just conglomerations of fibers, or sheets of stuff without fibers. Tyvek, for example, or felt, or some types of interfacing (stiffeners) for collars. You could also put plastic fabrics, vinyl, etc, in this category. They are not usually used for clothes, because they don't have any way for the air to move through them. Tyvek is sometimes used for printed windbreakers. (Tyvek is the stuff that they make large Fed Ex envelopes out of.)

Next time: Fiber Content.
All material (c) 1999 Cynthia Virtue Email Author with comments
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