Knit Vs Woven Fabric: What Are The Differences Between Them?
Updated: July 30, 2020
Almost every fabric we know of can be divided into the two groups of knit and woven. Even though we have come across these terms often in our lives, very few of us know what each of them implies.
What really are their pros and cons? Knit Vs Woven fabric, which one is the most suitable for us?
Let’s dive deep into these two popular fabric categories and see what they are all about!
What is Knit Fabric?
As the name implies, knit fabric is made through the process of knitting. This porous elastic fabric is usually created using needles to interlock the yarns. It is easy to make and doesn’t cost much.
Knit fabric can be of many kinds. The two broadest categories are weft knits and warp knits. They are developed in two different procedures where the weft knits are formed through a horizontal movement of one yarn and the warp knits are produced via a vertical motion of the yarn.
This leads to two different textures of fabric even though they follow the same principle of looping one long thread into the needle.
Advantages of Knit Fabric
The most common reason behind going for knitted fabric is its flexibility. Compared to braided or woven fabric, knit fabric excels in flexibility. Because of their looped structure, you can easily break it into separate smaller segments. This is why it is often used for producing hats and socks.
Knit fabric successfully exhibits impressive moisture absorption capabilities. Particularly the varieties which originate from plants display a greater ability to do so. The most common knit fabric - cotton can absorb 27 times more water than its own weight!
Such power again comes from the looped structure they have. Those loops have tiny hollow fragments in them which can store the liquid. They essentially perform as pockets for the drink and also the air. Because of this feature, the knit fabric can keep your body warm in winter.
If you have worked hard on your body and want to show off the results, a dress made out of knit fabric will do the job without showing much skin!
It can be stretched to impressive lengths. As a result, it manages to create a form-fitting outfit without depending on hooks, zippers or buttons.
It is very easy to take care of most knit fabrics. To cope with the busy life, you can just leave it to the washing machine for cleaning it up. Otherwise, if you have time to invest, just give it a gentle wash with mild soap.
The usual knit fabrics like cotton and polyester garments fall into such convenient cleaning categories. Besides, being immune to wrinkles increases their
However, there are some exceptions like wool which requires more specific washing ingredients like warm water and liquid soap. It also needs to be air-dried so that the stretching capability doesn’t ruin its shape.
We all know how comfortable we feel in a cotton dress. Similarly, all other variations of the knit fabric also bless us with a soft experience.
In winter, the warm comfort of wool often makes us want to curve up into a ball and just go to the sleepy wonderland. On the other hand, in summer, the breezy texture of cotton keeps us ventilated on the inside all day long making room for some coolness. So it saves us from worrisome weather in both the major seasons!
Disadvantages of Knit Fabric
Pilling refers to the formation of tiny fiber falls forming on the fabric surface. These balls are called pills and take place from wear abrasion. The knit fabrics made out of synthetic fibers are prone to pilling especially during a wash with other clothing items. That is why we recommend only dry cleaning for it.
Hard to Sew
It is hard to sew on a knit fabric since they are very stretchy. Its raveling edge makes it harder to work with the seams. You will not be able to sew it without straight stitches and a frame to keep the sewing surface tight. Warp knit fabrics are a little easier to sew on than weft knit ones.
What is Woven Fabric?
Woven fabric is created by weaving countless threads on a loom. You would need to interlace the yarns of warp and weft perpendicularly to attain the required structure.
It can be developed from sources like bamboo, rayon and polyester. The most common examples of woven fabric include denim, satin, chiffon, linen, tweed, flannel, silk and cotton twill.
Such fabric tends to stretch only diagonally. They can stretch further or easier if there are traces of lycra, spandex and similar elastic fibers incorporated into the fabric at the same time.
Advantages of Woven Fabric
Woven fabric has a sturdy structure which means it cannot be stretched easily and it does not shrink. So if you wear a woven fabric to suit your body type, it will not mess up after a few washes. Such clothes can maintain their original structure and thus bring in a higher quality of clothing.
Because of their unflinching structure, the woven outfit you buy today will serve you for a long time. That is why you almost always see denim pants outlasting a cotton t-shirt. Compared to most other fabrics like modal, the woven ones exhibit the highest durability.
Ideal for Work
Since their shape does not get affected by washing or moisture, outfits made out of woven fabric are ideal for work. You can wear silk or denim to the office depending on its environment or occasion. For the rest of the day, you don’t have to worry about any part of the outfit getting damaged.
Easy to Sew
Woven fabric is not prone to too much stretching. As a result, it is easier to do sewing on them. You can bring your design outline to reality on such fabrics without having any tension of losing the consistency. So sew up that cute skirt or turn a regular dress into a high-fashion one with your designs!
Disadvantages of Woven Fabric
These fabrics require a lot more time and workforce to be made. As a result, they don’t come cheap. While it will not cost you a fortune, you will have to pay a little extra to get woven fabric products compared to other alternatives. However, that pays off in the end since these outfits retain their shape for the longest time.
Not so soft
While they do last long, you may not feel so comfortable wearing them if you are looking for a soft texture touching your skin. Woven fabric is not flexible or stretchy which means it will not change its form with your body movements. That is why it is ideal to use them for outerwear only.
Difference Between Woven vs Knit Fabric
The soft, stretchy and comfortable fabric of knits is ideal for activewear. You will see leotards, bathing suits, leggings and similar body-hugging outfits being made from knit fabric. This enables the wearer to move flawlessly without feeling the obstacle of rigid clothes.
Sportswear mostly favors woven fabric over knit because of the sturdy structure of the former. Woven fabric is used for sports clothing as well as footwear. You can find high-quality shorts, trainers, tracksuits, wet suits and more made out of it. The woven fabric of canvas is often used to make sneakers.
Undergarments should be made from the most comfortable fabrics so that we don’t have to struggle all day long. That is why such pieces are made out of soft and smooth fabrics like cotton, lace, satin and silk. While the knit fabric of cotton dominates this industry, some woven fabrics also show sparks of luxury.
Knit fabrics are great for both winter and summer outfits since they can be as thin or thick as they want. For the scorching heat of summer, you can always rely on a thin cotton dress or tank top to allow as much airflow as possible. On the other hand, woolen outfits can keep you warm on a freezing day of winter.
While cotton brings comfort, most of us want to maintain a secure dress code at the office which is not prone to any mishaps.
Woven fabric can give us a good night’s sleep over this since its shape remains intact no matter what. Their sturdy structure can give us the confidence we need at work, especially before a crucial presentation.
Because of their extreme stability and impressive durability, woven fabric is used for medical textiles. Surgical gowns made of such fabric allow the doctors to operate comfortably.
Besides, its strength against abrasion eliminates the danger of leaving out debris in the operation theater.
Woven fabric is also used for wound dressings, prosthetic aids, pressure gauze, tampons and similar elements that are used to maintain hygiene.
Warp and weft are the backbones of both knit and woven fabric. The difference lies in how these are used to make each fabric.
Knit uses one of them at a time while woven uses both interchangeably for the same cloth. As a result, woven fabrics have interlaced yarns and knit fabrics have inter-looped yarns. A single yarn is typically used to develop an entire knit fabric while multiple yarns are at play in woven fabric production.
Besides, they differ in terms of construction machines too. Knit fabrics are made with a regular knitting machine or loom or sewing machine, whereas woven ones are made with only looms that are much bigger in structure.
Knit fabrics are more prone to stretching. Because of their looped construction, you can pull or stretch them in any direction. That is why you will find most knit fabric clothes to be figure-hugging.
In contrast, woven fabrics are not so easily stretchable. It can only be stretched a little along its length and not at all along its width. This provides them with the essential rigidity which keeps the outfits in shape for a long time.
You need to be careful while washing knit fabric products. They can shrink easily if washed frequently. Woven fabrics can maintain their original shape and size even after being washed many times. These can also retain their color over a longer period of time.
If you are not a fan of ironing the clothes every now and then, knit fabrics will prove to be more useful for you. They don’t show many wrinkles since their structure allows them to be pressed easily.
On the other hand, since woven fabric tends to retain its shape, it also holds on to the wrinkles forming easily on the surface. Pressing these fabrics may not get rid of those creases.
Fraying and Pilling
While knit fabric is more vulnerable to pilling, the woven ones can easily fray. Manufacturers resist fraying of cotton by applying overlock strategies on the raw lengthwise edges. That is why you may not see fraying upon them. However, they can still exhibit small fluff balls due to pilling.
Bottom Line - Which One is For You?
Hopefully this guide on Knit vs Woven fabric will help you choose the right one for you. Both knit and woven fabrics have their own share of perks. You can decide the one best for you after analyzing your individual needs. In fact, you may also include them both in your closet for their different sets of advantages.
Knit fabrics are best suited for seasonal attires, comfortable daily looks, undergarments and activewear. They allow a considerable amount of ventilation in summer while protecting you from the cold of winter.
Their soft touch keeps you cozy in any situation and their stretching capability allows you to perform all kinds of movements. You can rely on them for a smooth look devoid of wrinkles.
Woven fabrics are best for workplace outfits, hygienic environments and sportswear. They survive all kinds of stress and still retain their original shape. You can sew them easily and wash them frequently.