Types of Knit Fabrics

    by ShawnTe Pierce

    About the Author

    ShawnTe Pierce is a fashion designer and writer with more than 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on Woman's Day and The Frisky, among other online publications. Pierce has a Bachelor of Science in apparel design from the University of Delaware.



    Knit fabrics provide comfortable wear to almost any style of garment. Most knits contour to the body's silhouette without restricting movement. This makes knit fabrics ideal for underwear, bodywear and activewear garments. While many variations of knit fabrics exist such that used for hosiery, only two types of knit fabric exist-weft and warp knits. From these two types of knit fabrics come various subtypes that consumers encounter in fabric stores and read within garment descriptions.

    Weft Knits

    Weft knits use a single yarn to construct horizontal courses or rows of looped stitches. Each course in a weft knit builds upon the previous knitted course, according to Threads Magazine. On a knitting machine, one yarn fed horizontally through all needles on the machine constructs weft knit fabrics. The yarn configuration of weft knit fabrics gives them ribs or visible vertical columns of loops on the face of the fabric.

    Common Weft Knits

    Common types of weft knits fabric include double knit, jersey knit, rib knit and piquè. Double knits, just as the name implies, uses two sets of yarns on opposed needles resulting in a heavier fabric that looks the same on either side. Double knit fabrics have little stretch, retain their shape and works best for tailored garments. Jersey knits, also known as single knit, have an identifiable right/face and wrong side. The knit has little, if any, lengthwise stretch and works well when used on form fitting garments such as tank dresses.
    Rib knits have a visible vertical ribs or columns on both sides of the fabric. Made from two alternating types of stitches, knit and purl, ribs knits have a considerable amount of crosswise stretch but little to no lengthwise stretch. Close-fitting turtlenecks, sweaters and dresses lend themselves well to rib knits due to its considerable crosswise stretch. Piquè knits have defined vertical and crosswise ribs that form small indented boxes between the ribs. Polo T-shirts often use piquè knits.

    Warp Knits

    While weft knit construction utilizes one yarn to construction horizontal rows of stitches, Threads Magazine states multiple parallel yarns looped vertically at the same time create warp knits. Warp knit fabrics created on a knitting machine use one yarn for each knitting needle. The knitted stitches of warp knits fabrics have a crisscross diagonal appearance that looks smoother than weft knits.

    Common Warp Knits

    Classification of warp knits, according to Threads Magazine, is difficult due to the complex construction of warp knits. Two common types of warp knit fabrics include tricot and raschel knits. Tricot knit is used primarily in lingerie due to its smooth appearance and texture. The face of tricot knits have fine lengthwise ribs and the back side of the fabric has crosswise ribbing. Raschel knits describe many knitted fabrics with a lace-like or open work knit. Many trendy sweaters and sweater dresses use raschel knits to create knitted lace detailing along garment edges such as hems and necklines.

    Photo Credits

    • knitted texture image by Nataliya Galkina from Fotolia.com