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What is the difference between woven and knitted fabrics?

The fundamental difference between woven and knitted fabrics is the way they are made. Warps, or longitudinal threads, and wefts, or latitudinal yarns, are used to weave textiles. Knitting entails tying or interlacing a single yarn or thread together. Let us learn the difference in detail.

Woven fabrics :

Woven fabrics are manufactured by interlacing two sets of yarn perpendicular (0°/90°) to each other by crossing each over and under the other in alternating pattern. The strands that run the length of the fabric are known as warp yarns, while those that run the breadth are known as weft or fill yarns. Because the yarns in woven textiles are held together by friction at the joint points, a sufficient number of connection points is required to keep the fabric stable. As a result, these textiles must be rather thick in order for the yarns not to fall apart during service, and they cannot be in a mesh shape. Both strands in both directions are in crimp forms in woven fabric owing to the way of connection, which involves passing the warp and fill yarns under and over each other. A woven fabric used in clothes and apparel, as well as for adornment and covering. Upholstery fabric made of woven cloth is also a good option.

Knitted fabric:

The knitted fabric structure is created by interlooping the yarns, which is done with a set of closely spaced needles that pull the yarns to form loops (stitches) in the knitted fabric. Flat bed or circular knitting machines can be used to make this style of cloth. ‘Wale’ refers to the vertical column of loops running the length of the fabric, while ‘course’ refers to the horizontal row of loops running the breadth of the cloth. The directions are known as ‘wale direction’ and ‘course direction,’ respectively. A head loop, two side limbs, and two sinker loops make up a single knit loop.

The two main knitted fabric production methods are weft knitting and warp knitting.

a. Weft knitting

Weft knitted textiles are commonly utilised in garment applications but are less commonly employed in reinforcing applications since the final fabric form has a significant curvature. The yarn used to create the loops in these fabrics runs in the fabric’s weft (cross-machine) direction, going from one loop to the next. A single yarn may be used to create the whole fabric structure, similar to how hand knitting is done. Weft-knitted materials are very readily stretched due to their lack dimensional stability.

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b. Warp knitting

The threads that produce the loops in warp knitted textiles run in the fabric’s warp direction (lengthwise, in the machine direction). Multiple yarns are required to create the entire fabric structure. Depending on the fabric geometry necessary for the desired end use, the process entails linking a set of warp yarns together with loops that move in a zigzag pattern along the fabric length from one column to another, alternately. These textiles have a substantially better structural stability than weft-knitted materials. Warp-knitted textiles may be made with a wide range of mesh holes and mesh structures thanks to the robust, loop-based connection at the fabric joints.

Knitted fabric’s loop structure stretches and moulds to match body forms. The loops trap air, keeping the user warm. Knitted fabric has useful properties that make it suitable for a range of garments including Tights, mittens, undergarments, and other close-fitting garments.

We already know that woven textiles made from the interlacement of two sets of yarn and knitted fabrics made from the interloping of yarn have distinct properties and uses. In most circumstances, both textiles may be used interchangeably, and choosing the proper fabric can help the user achieve his or her needs more effectively. The difference between woven and knitted fabric is shown in the table below.

Table: Difference between woven and knitted fabrics, machine and process.

ParameterWoven FabricKnitted Fabric
Process requirementFabric requires two sets of yarn for interlacement, one is warp and other is weft yarn.Fabric can be produced from a single end or a cone of a yarn in case of weft knitting.
Fabric constructionWoven fabric is at least made up of two separate groups of yarns (warp and weft).Knitted fabric can be made up of one yarn only.
Dimensional stabilityMore stableLess stable. Careful handling is required for knitted fabric during wet processing and stitching.
Thickness and handleWoven fabric is thinner and easy to handle.Knitted fabric is much thicker and softer than woven fabric as it has a complicated 3-dimensional structure.
ComfortLess comfort due to tight structureMore open spaces that give better air permeability and moisture management.
Fabric Density and CoverGenerally, woven fabric can be produced in extremely tight and higher coverage when compared with knitted fabric.Generally, knitted fabric is looser in structure.
Shape retentionWoven garments retain their own shapeKnitted garments get  the shape of the wearer’s body, hence, best for undergarments.
ElasticityWoven fabric has poor extensibility.Knitted fabric has higher extensibility and instant recovery ability than woven fabric.
SewingEasy to sewingGenerally have more stretch.
Crease resistantPoor crease resistanceHigh crease resistance
Fabric SelvageWoven fabric have selvage.Knit fabric have no selvage.
Development routeYarn preparation requires like warping, sizing drawing, etc.Fabric can be produced from yarn package. So process route is very short.
Conversion costConversion from yarn to fabric involves various processes. The conversion cost is higher.Conversion requires no preparation, so conversion cost is low.
Fabric ApplicationHowever, if fabric requires good dimensional stability, high tenacity like trousers, jackets, canvas, woven fabric is the right choice.The popularity of sportswear, hosiery, underwear and high fashion knitwear make a strong demand on knitted fabric every year which cannot be replaced by woven fabric.
Environmental effectPreparation includes a sizing of warp yarn that has to remove before color application, which may cause environmental pollution.The yarn is just waxed. No need to size the yarn, so development cause less environmental hazards.

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