Difference between Knits and Woven Fabrics

Fabrics are broadly categorized as knits fabrics and woven fabrics. Though this question is a basic one to a garment industry professional, I would like to explain it a little bit for newcomers. Whether you are starting your business in clothing industry, or starting your career in clothing line or setting up ready-made garment manufacturing unit, one day you might need to know about these two types of fabrics.

To compare these two types of fabrics I will tell you how they are made, compare their physical properties, and will show some examples to give you a complete understanding of these two types of fabrics.

Knits Fabrics:

Think of a T-shirt or Polo shirt or legging or an inner-wear.

These clothes are made from knits fabrics. Knits fabrics are made by inter-looping yarns. You might be seen knitting of sweaters by hand- that is an example of knits fabric.

In knitting the whole fabric sheet can be made by single yarn though in circular knitting machine multiple feeders (multiple yarns) are used to knit knitted fabrics. Knits fabrics are commonly made in circular knitting machine and flat knitting machine. 
T-Shirt (Made of knits fabric)

Woven Fabrics:

Think of a Shirt or a Trouser, or a Suit or denim jeans. All these clothes are made from woven fabrics. Woven fabrics are made by interlacing two set of yarns. Yarn set are known as warp yarns and weft yarns. Fabric manufacturing method of woven fabric is known as weaving. Woven fabrics are made in looms (hand loom, power loom).

Shirt (made of woven fabric)

Comparison based on the properties of knits and woven fabrics

  • Knits fabric are stretchy. Knits fabric stretches in both directions. Knits fabric are thicker, heavier, softer and bulky. 
  • Woven fabrics are stiff and not stretchy. Woven fabric stretches only on bias direction. It is possible to make stretchy woven fabric by using spandex (Lycra) yarns like you might know about stretchable denim pants. Woven fabrics are thinner and lighter. 
  • Knits fabrics shrink easily than woven fabrics. 
  • In woven fabric, you can get both yarn-dyed stripes and checks design but in knits fabrics, you will only get yarn-dyed stripes. 

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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