The basic types of fabric weave: satin
If the weft emerges once every four or more warp threads, only to vanish again under the next warp, you’ve got a satin weave.
Satin is usually matte on one side and gleaming gorgeously on the other. It’s good for adding a touch of flair and luxury. Run your hand along the glossy side. Roll around in it when nobody’s looking.
Satin fabrics are most commonly made of polyester and silk. Silk is the only continuous filament, natural fibre, whereas charmeuse is a soft, smooth lightweight fabric woven with a satin weave. Charmeuse fabric has the same drape and lustre as satin, but it is a bit softer and lighter.
If you attempt a satin weave using shorter fibres that need to be twisted together into threads, such as cotton or linen, the fabric you end up with will be called sateen instead.
The basic types of fabric weave: twill
Twill is easy to spot because of its diagonal ridges. It’s textured and durable, and it’s popular for trousers, such as jeans, chinos, cargo pants etc, and jackets.
Twill is associated with some repeating patterns, such as houndstooth and herringbone. These patterns might not guarantee a twill weave, though, as you’ll sometimes find houndstooth patterns printed on plain weave clothes. Check if the pattern is formed by the way the threads weave together.
Of all the twill weave fabric names, denim is probably the one you’re most familiar with. If you take a close look at your denim jeans, you’ll see the distinctive diagonal lines of twill. You’ll also find twill weaves in serge and chino.
Not all woven clothing materials are locked down to a single weaving style. Tweed or flannel, for example, can be made with a plain weave or twill weave. Flannel is a popular fabric for baby blankets, which can be kept soft and gentle with a dermatologically tested fabric conditioner such as Comfort Pure.
Other types of textile: knitted fabrics
Of course, weaving isn’t the only way to turn raw materials into fabulous fabrics. You’ll also come across knitted fabrics, such as jersey, interlock, rib, and pique knits.
There are 2 basic knits from which all other knitted fabrics used in clothing are derived; weft knits and warp knits.
Weft knitting is the most common, and the one you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever picked up a pair of knitting needles. You’ll usually take a single, continuous string of yarn and knit it into a garment, row by row, working horizontally. Examples of clothes made from weft knits include T-Shirts, sweatshirts, joggers, and athleisure.
In warp knitting, many strings of yarn are knitted together simultaneously in columns. Doing this by hand isn’t really feasible, so warp knitting is done by machines.
Weft knitting tends to be looser. It’s stretchy, warm and cosy, and the whole thing can unravel if you cut it, as it’s a continuous string. It’s the usual method for clothes that are traditionally associated with knitting, such as jumpers, scarves and socks.
Warp knitting doesn’t have the same stretch as weft knitting, so it tends to hold its shape better. It’s often used to make lace and lingerie.
If you want to learn more about specific types of fabric, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our articles on the properties of silk and different types of cotton fabric.