Understanding the Basics of Fabric Construction

Understanding the Basics of Fabric Construction | MakersValley Blog
Anna Spaugh

Anna Spaugh

Fabric is one of the most important parts of designing; if you don’t know the basics of fabric, its terminology, and construction, you’re not going to know what to look and ask for. Designing swimwear, rain coats, suits, sweaters, and/or formal dresses all involves different types of fabrics. In order to know which fabrics work best for a particular clothing garment, you need to learn about fabrics and how they’re made.

How is Fabric Made?

colorful fabrics in a market

Fabric is made of a type of fiber content and a type of construction. The method of construction will be one of four different types:

  1. Woven - Woven fabrics are made by weaving threads of fiber together on a right angle.
  2. Knit - Knits are loops that loop on top of each other. Knit fabrics have a little bit of stretch to them, and woven fabrics are stiffer and sturdier.
  3. Nonwoven - Nonwovens are fabrics like felt, vinyl, and interfacings. They can be fibers that are meshed or melted together.
  4. Hides - Hides come from all sorts of animals.

Fibers can be natural or man-made. To be a natural fiber, it has to come from a plant or an animal. Man-made fibers are oil based or composed of a manipulation of a natural fiber. Fibers are either filaments or staples. Filament fibers are one long fiber and can be natural or manmade. Silk is a natural filament fiber and Nylon is a synthetic filament fiber. Staple fibers are short fibers. Staple fibers can also either be natural or manmade, like cotton or polyester, for example.

Woven and Knit Fabrics

Woven and Knits FabricWhen dealing with woven and knitted fabric construction you will hear the terms warp and weft. Warp and weft are the directions of the threads or yarn. Warp goes up and down and weft goes left to right. An easy way to remember which is which is to replace “left” with weft.

You can easily spot the difference between a woven and a knitted fabric by sight alone. The knitted fabrics have small v’s of threads and edges that won’t fray. A woven fabric’s edges fray and you can see the woven construction by the threads interlacing each other up, down, and across.

Both knits and wovens can be loosely or tightly made. There are single and double knits and tricot and raschel knits that are made into fabrics used for common garments. Single knits are often used in jersey tops; tricot knits are used a lot in athletic wear. A double weave in woven fabrics is thicker and is typically used for outerwear garments, such as coats.

Blended Fabrics

Yarns

Fabrics can also be blended together with other fibers to create different types of fabrics containing any number of combinations of natural and synthetic fibers. Fabrics are typically blended together to change a fabric for improvement or as a cheaper alternative to the original.

To blend fabrics, you take a core fiber and wrap another one around it. You can decide on the ratio of how much you want of that blend. For example, a cotton/polyester blend could be 50/50 or 60/40. If you want a fabric that is stretchy, you would wrap elastic around your core fiber. You can also blend more than two types of fibers together.

Fabrics can also be anywhere from light, mid, or heavy weighted. When you are shopping and sourcing for fabrics, remember that the heavier the fabric is, the more it’s going to cost you, as it uses more fibers.

Before You Purchase Fabric

Fabrics in rolls

Before you start sourcing for fabrics, have a plan of what you want. Fabric stores are a great place to wander around for inspiration for your mood boards and fashion designs, but not when you’re ready to make a purchase. Otherwise you could end up buying fabrics that don’t go well together, fit your collection or color story, or too much fabric (which isn’t budget friendly) or too little (which is a hassle).

Have a game plan of what you need to buy and challenge yourself to use a fabric in more ways than one. This will help reduce the expense of having to buy multiple different fabrics for one collection and push you to be a more creative fashion designer.

Italian artisan cutting fabric

Source Italian Fabrics Directly

Source fabric, trim, packaging, and more directly from Italian vendors. Purchase the fashion supplier directory with 200+ direct, verified vendor contacts.

Learn More

Comments

MakersValley Blog| Where to Find Silk, Wool, and Cotton in Italy: 3 Regions at a Glance

Where to Find Silk, Wool, and Cotton in Italy: 3 Regions at a Glance

Fast Fashion’s Second Act | MakersValley Blog

Fast Fashion’s Second Act

7 Best Practices for Choosing Good Fashion Suppliers | MakersValley Blog

7 Best Practices for Choosing Good Fashion Suppliers

MakersValley Blog: Complexities of Offshore Apparel Production: Italy vs. China

Complexities of Offshore Apparel Production: Italy vs. China

The “Made in Italy” Fashion Appeal

The “Made in Italy” Fashion Appeal

MakersValley Blog | The Advantages of Private Label Fashion Production Over Wholesale Sourcing

Private Label vs. Wholesale Sourcing – Pros and Cons

Choosing The Best Fabrics For Your Clothing Line | MakersValley Blog

Choosing The Best Fabrics For Your Clothing Line

3 Ways White Label Fashion Can Save You Time & Money

3 Ways White Label Fashion Can Save You Time & Money

MakersValley Blog | 3 Easy Ways to Find a Quality Italian Clothing Manufacturer

3 Easy Ways to Find a Quality Italian Clothing Manufacturer

Ready to compare commitment-free factory quotes?

Start your free trial