How to Identify Knit Fabrics
by Sarah Veblen
From Threads #97, pp. 59-63
A sampling of weft knit fabrics
All weft knits fall into three basic categories: rib knits, which are a combination of knit and purl stitches; purl knits, which are made with purl stitches alone, and jersey knits, which are made with knits stitches on the front and purl stitches on the reverse (see the drawings above).
|More on Knits:
• Knits & Wovens: What's the Difference
• A Primer on Sewing Knits
• 10 Ways to Sew with Knits
• Know Your Knits
Description: Made with two sets of yarns, this double-constructed fabric has fine ribs running lengthwise on both sides. Usually looks same on fabric's face and reverse, making it reversible. Fancy double knits may have novelty stitch on fabric's face and fine ribs on reverse.
Properties: Heavy, firm; usually has almost no stretch in either direction. Good shape retention; cut edges don't curl.
Best use: Tailored garments, like jackets, suits, or sheath dresses. If particular double knit has some crosswise stretch, adjusting pattern (by cutting it slightly smaller in body girth) may be necessary.
Description: Compound fabric made by "inter-knitting," or interlocking, two simple ribbed fabrics, each made with single yarn. Has fine ribs running lengthwise. Fabric's face and reverse look same, making it reversible.
Properties: Almost no lengthwise stretch; more crosswise stretch than double knits or jerseys; fairly good shape retention. Raw or cut edges don't curl; unravels only from end last knitted.
Best use: Wonderful for T-shirts, turtlenecks, casual skirts and dresses, and children's wear. Because of its crosswise stretch, use pattern designed for interlock knits, or be prepared to adjust pattern.
Description: Also referred to as plain knit or single knit. Has distinct right and wrong sides, with fine ribs running lengthwise on fabric's face, and semicircular loops running across reverse. Many variations of stitches and fibers create wide variety of single knits, ranging from delicate openwork to heavy, thick piled fabric.
Properties: Little or no lengthwise stretch, varying amounts of crosswise stretch. Curls to fabric's right side; cut edges unravel only from end knitted last. Best use: Jersey with little or no crosswise or lengthwise stretch (like most wool jerseys) can be used for skirts, blouses, and dresses without pattern adjustments. Jersey with crosswise stretch requires pattern adjustments or pattern designed for crosswise stretch.
Description: Double-faced, reversible fabric produced by intermeshed rows of knit and purl stitches, which appear as loops in crosswise direction. Sometimes called "Links-Links," from the German word links ("left"), since knitting machine's mechanism always moves to left.
Properties: Usually heavy and bulky; stretches in both directions. Cut edges do not curl.
Best use: Sweater-type garments, outerwear.
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