What is a Rib Knit Fabric? Properties and Application

You can identify a rib knit cloth by its distinctive loop patterns, common with many knitted fabric types. Sometimes, it’s called Ribana fabric, and other times, it’s called sweater knit fabric.

Like other varieties of knitted fabric, such as the interlock stitch knit or the raschel knit, etc., they can be made from natural fibers like cotton or synthetic ones like rayon or polyester.

Raised vertical ribs are also prominent in rib knit fabric. However, in this case, they are worked into the fabric in the other direction using purl stitches and knit stitches in an alternating pattern. 

Understanding What Rib-knit Fabric Is

Rib Knit Fabric

Rib knit fabric is a type of knitted fabric characterized by vertical rows of knit stitches that alternate between high and low. They are more durable and stretchy than jersey knits and have a more tailored cut.

Generally speaking, you can think of Rib Knit Fabrics as a form of double-sided fabric with noticeable, perpendicular ribs on both sides. This quality makes them perfect for uses where you need both sides of the fabric to appear the same.

Rib knits are frequently misunderstood as ribbing fabric. Still, they are not the same kinds of textiles. In addition to the usual applications of cuffs, waistbands, and neckbands, rib knits can be used to construct entire outfits and sometimes haute couture fabrics.

However, ribbing fabric is a foundation (a tight sort of rib knit) that is designed solely for use as a collar, sleeve cuff, or waistline.

One can choose between the more common 1×1 rib knit or the more complex 2×2 rib knit. The 1 x 1 pattern consists of one knit and one purl stitch, whereas the 2 x 3 pattern consists of two knits and three purls.

Stretchy rib knits stay smooth and wrinkle-free. The fabric’s elasticity makes it quick to recover its original shape after being stretched. That’s why you’ll find them so often on the edges of socks, sleeves, waists, and necklines of t-shirts. Sweaters and women’s outfits also have them.

Production Process of Rib Knit Fabric

Rib knit fabric is produced with two needles to generate the vertical ridges that characterize the fabric. A specific number of knit stitches (smaller and less noticeable) and purl stitches (larger and more noticeable, forming the groove between the ribs) are worked in multiples of the span of the fabric.

This fabric is usually made and sold in circular pieces, without any selvage to make the vertical ribs.

In the process of producing this fabric, a 1 x 1 rib, known as a plain rib, a type of rib stitch often used in knitting in which the right and back sides of each wale alternate across plain and purl stitches, is sometimes constructed. 

A 2 x 2 rib, also known as Swiss rib, produced by knitting plain stitches on the front of the fabric and purling them on the back of the fabric alternately every two rows, may also be constructed alongside a  6 x 2 rib. 

The 6 x 2 rib fabric is produced when six right-side wales of plain stitches are alternated with two back-side wales of purl stitches.

To create a ribbed knit, the knitter works with multiple knit stitches, then a series of purl stitches, and so on, until the row is complete. The knitter then turns the work inside out to make a ribbed design.

Ribbing is commonly employed at the corners of clothing, notably socks, to ensure a secure fit and maintain the garment’s intended form. For example, the entire knit fabric of a sweater can stretch to fit a wide range of sizes.

Rib Knit Fabric Over The Years. A Brief History

Knitting developed as a global trade during the era of European discovery and colonization, transiting from one country to the next through explorers and colonists.

The knitting machine, the first of its kind to imitate a knitter’s hand motions, was created by an Englishman named William Lee in 1589. 

Knitting didn’t become widely available to the general public until the 1950s, with the invention of synthetic yarn and fibers. Hand knitting evolved into a hobby when these knitting machines emerged on the market and swiftly created ready-to-wear items. 

Knitwear from the popular brand; Ralph Lauren’s designs from the 1980s is one well-known example (his “floor-length cashmere turtlenecks”).

Rib knits swiftly gained popularity among knitwear due to their adaptability and comfort and are prevalent in modern fashion alongside other knit fabric types.

Some Rib Knit Fabric Types 

There are many distinct varieties of knit fabrics primarily because of their weights, which in turn dictate the fabric’s basic function.

  • Tubular rib knit fabric 

Tubular rib knit fabric possesses no selvage because they are created and marketed in a tube. Standard manufacturing methods of this fabric involve circular knitting on specialized equipment.

Since there aren’t any side seams, You can utilize them to make seamless clothing. They are often the fabric of choice for garments worn close to the skin and have a decreased likelihood of ripping or fraying.

  • Heavy-weight rib knit fabric

These rib knits are extremely warm and employ thicker yarns, which usually results in less elasticity and are much less popular than their thinner counterparts. These rib-knit textiles are commonly found in sweaters and outerwear.

  • Medium-weight rib knit fabric 

This knitwear possesses a somewhat dense ribbing pattern and is the most popular kind of ribbed fabric. It is a rib knit of medium weight, and it’s usually made of cotton.

  • Lightweight rib knit fabric 

This rib knit fabric is lightweight and commonly used for undergarments. They are created from fine synthetic fibers like viscose or polyester

  • Circular rib knit fabric 

Circular rib knit fabric has some loops drawn toward the front of the fabric while others are dragged toward the back.

So, the diagonal path from front to back and back to front is followed by the loops shown alternately on the front and back.

Furthermore, the right and left loops of the fabric can be seen to move alternatively when the cloth is stretched too far along its breadth direction.

Purchasing Rib Knit Fabrics 

Rib knit fabric is widely used worldwide and is one of the most cost-effective fabric options.

These knit fabric types don’t have a hefty price tag because they can be manufactured inexpensively using readily available components like cotton and polyester.

You can purchase rib knit fabric types like the stretch rib knit for up to $10. In comparison, regular rib knits and others produced with cotton and polyester range from $12-$18 per yard. 

Different Applications Of Rib Knit Fabrics Today

Rib knit fabric types are popular among many clothing manufacturers for various forms. The fabric is used to produce many items, such as; 

  • Sweatshirts
Rib Knit Sweatshirts

Sweaters and sweatpants cut precisely at the hips and waist can be created from rib knit fabric. They are sturdy fabric types that align to the hem, creating a stretchy fabric with excellent recovery that retains its shape during stretching. 

  • Tailoring

Because of its stretchiness, rib knit fabric is commonly used as a finish or binding fabric for other types of knitwear. Patterns for such types of clothing are typically designed to fit very snugly.

The fabric is mainly used in areas of clothing that usually experience high levels of flexibility but low-pressure levels. 

  • Dresses & men’s shirts
Rib Knit Dress

T-shirts with either long or short sleeves can be made from rib knit fabric. Because of the stretch in the fabric, the shirt fits snugly and comfortably all over the body. Rib knit fabrics are also present in women’s dresses since they also fit closely and express women’s physiques. 

  • Beanies
Rib Knit Beanie

Beanies made from rib knits are very popular, and they’re perfect if you’re an outdoors individual who enjoys venturing out into the winter weather.

Beanies knitted in rib stitch are both practical and fashionable. They are also easy to create using DIY methods. 

Caring For Rib Knit Fabrics

Rib knit fabric is machine and hands-washable. Due to the fabric’s makeup is frequently utilized due to how quickly it can be cleaned, dried, and properly cared for. 

You can take note of some of these care tips to maintain them properly.

  • You can prewash and wash rib knit fabrics in warm water and dry them in a tumble dryer set to medium heat. However, it is not okay to dry your rib knit clothes in a dryer for an extended period to prevent damage. Rayon-containing rib knit fabric types will start to pill after just a few cycles in the dryer.
  • Rib knits are one of the numerous fabric types that quickly shrink when placed in boiling water. That’s why it is advised to wash the fabric at a maximum temperature of 40° Celsius. 
  • The best approach to increase the lifespan of your rib knit clothing is to wash them inside out and dry them flat on a towel to prevent stretching.
  • Some types of rib knit fabrics are better washed with special care to avoid discoloration or stains.

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