Knit vs. Woven Fabrics: 3 Key Differences Explained

How your fabric is made will significantly affect how you use or react to it. Fabrics are made from organic or synthetic threads, and fabric manufacturers have various ways of turning these threads into fabrics. Two of the most popular ways are weaving and knitting.

Woven and knitted fabrics have different makeup and look and feel differently. As any person used to fabrics will attest, you will likely have a different experience with each type of fabric. But what exactly are knitted and woven fabrics, and how precisely do they differ from each other?

Defining Knit And Woven Fabrics

Knit And Woven Fabrics
L-Knit Fabric; R-Woven Fabric

Knit fabric is made by interloping a single continuous yarn or thread intricately. The thread can be either organic, like cotton or linen, or synthetic materials, like polyester. This method of turning yarns into fabrics has some advantages and disadvantages. 

On the one hand, knitting fabrics make it more stretchy and give more warmth to the wearer. On the other hand, using one continuous thread makes knitted fabrics quickly unravel when cutting them, affecting their durability. 

In contrast, woven fabric is formed from two different yarns or threads which are interconnected with one another. The threads are divided into two categories- The longitudinal thread is called warp thread, while the latitudinal thread is called weft thread. Woven fabrics stretch less than their knitted counterparts and also unravel easily. To prevent this from happening, textile manufacturers seal the end.

Using multiple interlocking yarns causes woven fabrics to have multiple tiny pores, which makes them very breathable. It is also more durable because, unlike knitted fabric, they tend to hold their shape more and are more resistant to pilling after multiple washes.

Differences in The Texture of Knit and Woven Fabrics

Apart from being made differently and used differently, they also feel differently about their skin. The knit fabric feels softer on the skin and, thanks to the interloping yarn, is much more breathable than woven fabrics.

On the other hand, Woven fabrics have a more firm and coarse feel to them, although they will feel soft to the skin in most cases. They are very breathable but are less breathable than woven fabrics. 

Note: The material used in making the fabric and the type of weave will play a crucial role in texture and breathability.

For example, fabrics made from cotton are usually more breathable and have a softer feel than those from polyester. Also, the tightness of the weave or knit and the thread count are vital to how smooth the fabric will be.

Differences in The Strength and Durability of Knit and Woven Fabrics

Although the strength of the fiber will largely determine the strength of the fabric, there are still distinct differences between knit and woven fabrics. Woven fabrics tend to be stronger than knit fabrics due to the tensile strength of all crossed threads.

Woven fabrics’ additional strength is due to their composition, making them more durable than knit fabrics. Woven fabrics do not stretch easily, making them less likely to lose shape. Knit fabric, however, is easier to damage than misshape.

Comparing the Ease Of Use and Comfort of Both Fabrics of Knit and Woven Fabrics

When considering ease of use, we are referring to how easy it is to care for the fabric; we would also consider how soft and wrinkle-resistant it is. Knit fabrics are very wrinkle-resistant and are generally easier to take care of. They barely require ironing as their looped structure and flexibility prevent them from creasing easily.

But woven fabrics crease quite easily and often require ironing. Sometimes the creases can be pretty tricky to remove. However, woven fabrics are barely wrinkle-resistant.

Knit vs. Woven Fabrics: Usage and Applications

Both woven and knit fabrics are used differently because of differences in production methods. However, they are both widely used in the world today:

Uses of Knit Fabrics

Knit Sweater

The properties of knit fabrics make them useful in many fields. Below are just a few of them:

  • Knit fabrics are used in the medical field for much medical apparel and apparatus. Composite medical dressings, bandages, hernia patches, and even some cardiac support systems are products of knit fabrics.
  • The breathable qualities of knit fabrics make them essential in producing most sportswear, baby clothes, and T-shirts.
  • They make good jumpers, scarves, hats, and gloves.

Uses of Woven Fabrics

Woven Fabric

Woven fabrics also have admirable qualities that make them useful in the textile industry. Here are some of their uses and applications:

  • Woven fabrics are perfect for making upholstery because they only stretch in one direction.
  • They are suitable for making products for interior design, such as curtains, wallpapers, floor coverings, and carpets.
  • They are helpful in the fashion industry for making men and women wear such as shirts, jackets, trousers, and blouses.

The Best Way To Care For Knit and Woven Fabrics

The best way to take proper care of your fabrics is to pay attention to the manufacturer’s label to find out what type of knitted or woven fabric you have and how best to launder and store them. However, you can take these precautions when caring for your fabrics:

Caring For Woven Fabrics

Here are some ways to care correctly for woven fabrics:

  • Avoid putting them in a washing machine as much as possible. Hand wash them using cold water and soft, gentle motions. Spot clean minor stains using water and a soft cloth. 
  • Avoid using brushes or other hard objects. Wash woven fabrics separately from more coarse fabrics.
  • If you have to use a washing machine, use a front-loading machine as they exert less stress than a top-loading one.
  • Wash woven fabrics using a gentle cycle. Use cold water and mild detergent. Also, add an extra rinse cycle to completely eradicate the suds from the fabric.
  •  Iron them from the inside out to preserve the color.

Caring For Knit Fabrics

Here are some of the ways to properly care for knit fabrics:

  • The safest way to wash knit fabric is by handwashing. If the stains are minor, spot clean using cold water and a soft cloth.
  • When using a washing machine, select the delicate cycle, use a mild detergent, and run for about fifteen minutes.
  • Avoid placing knit fabric in a dryer, as this could cause fraying. Instead, air-dry the fabric on a flat hanger. Using a standard hanger can leave marks on them.
  • Store knit fabrics away from light so they don’t lose color.

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