Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Tutorial Tuesday: A Guide to Different Types of Knit Fabrics


We get asked a lot what the differences are between different types of knits and which fabrics would be best suited to certain projects, so as a follow up to our guide to stretch from a couple of weeks ago we thought we'd do a similar thing for the different types of knit fabrics.  Hopefully it will help makes things more clear!


Knit fabrics come in a variety of types and just to make things more helpful, these types can also have multiple names! Knit fabric, Stretch fabric and Jersey fabric are all generic names for essentially the same thing (and interlock can also be used as a generic knit fabric term!)

Cotton Jersey (also known as Jersey Knit)

- Typically 2 way stretch (see our guide to stretch for more info)
- Predominantly cotton, with other fibres such as rayon/viscose (2 names for the same fibre), polyester
- Usually 150-200 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique qualities: 
This (alongside Cotton Lycra) is the standard knit fabric, used for dresses, tops, pyjamas, lounge pants, T-shirts, baby clothes, and many more applications! The higher the cotton content, the more stable the fabric will be, rayon or polyester will add more drape and flow to the fabric.

Cotton Lycra/Cotton Spandex 

(Lycra and Spandex are 2 names for the same fibre)
- Predominantly cotton with a little lycra for stretch (usually 5-10%)
- Usually 200-250 gsm (grams per square metre)
- Unique qualities: 
Cotton Lycra has good 4 way stretch making it ideal for closer fitting items where movement is needed such as leggings, pencil skirts, baby grows etc. but can also be used for looser fitting items like dresses, tops, T-Shirts etc.

Lycra/Spandex Knits

- Predominantly lycra, sometimes with a mix of nylon or rayon.
- Usually 200-250 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique qualities: 
Spandex Knits have a very smooth hand and really good stretch. They are very slinky and are perfect for sports/activewear like leggings, sports tops, dance wear, leotards etc. but can also make fabulous dresses, tops and nightwear/underwear.

Ponte De Roma/Ponte Di Roma (also called double knit or interlock)

- Typically 2 way stretch (see our guide to stretch for more info)
- Usually a mix of polyester, rayon and lycra.
- Usually 250-300 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique qualities: 
Ponte is a very stable, medium weight fabric which has an identical structure on both sides due to it being 2 layers knitted together. Ponte is wrinkle resistant which makes it ideal for skirts and dresses as it prevents seat lines. Ponte can usually be identified by it's fine horizontal rib like structure on both sides of the fabric.

Hacci Sweater Knits

- Typically 2 way stretch (see our guide to stretch for more info)
- Usually a mix of cotton and wool, polyester, or lycra.
- Usually 200-300 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique qualities: 
Sweater knits, also known as Hacci, have a loopier, open-knit texture than regular cotton knit fabrics. They are generally heavier than regular cotton knits, but lighter in weight than traditional sweatshirt fabric, making them ideal for loose sweaters or cardigans, or trendy flowing tops and dresses. They are wrinkle resistant and sew up just like regular knits! 

French Terry Knits

- Typically 2 way stretch (see our guide to stretch for more info)
- Usually 100% cotton but sometimes mixed with spandex or other fibres.
- Usually 200-250 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique Qualities:
Not to be confused with Terry cloth or Terry towelling, French Terry knit fabrics have a regular, soft and smooth jersey top side with a loop piling on the back (in varying length). French Terry knits can be found used in many fashion applications (cardis, drapey tops and dresses), while traditionally used for swim cover-ups, wraps and athletic bottoms due to their moisture absorbing capability.

Rib Knits

- Typically 2 way stretch (see our guide to stretch for more info)
- Usually 100% cotton but sometimes mixed with spandex or other fibres.
- Usually 150-250 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique qualities: 
Rib Knits have 'wales' or vertical rows of stitches that form ribs on both the face and the back of the fabric making both sides appear the same. These wales can be even and close together (baby 1x1 rib knits), or different in size and spacing (2x1 wide wale rib knits). The numbers signify the width of the ridge rows and valley rows. They have a natural stretch that make them very useful for cuffs, bands, and necklines. Rib knits are also popular for use in infant wear and tops and dresses.

Sweatshirt Fleece

- Typically very low 2 way stretch (see our guide to stretch for more info)
- Predominantly cotton, mixed with polyester or other fibres.
- Usually 300-450 gsm (grams per square metre)
Unique qualities:
Cosy and soft, sweatshirt knit fabric is a sturdy fabric with a smooth knit top side and a lovely brushed soft fleecy wrong side. Sweatshirt knits are great for the traditional hoodie or sweatshirt tops, and are also good for sweat pants and jogging bottoms and shorts for both adults and children.

Other Speciality Knit Fabrics

Vegan/Faux Leather - (See our range here)  A poly spandex blend with a textured, small pebble matte surface on the front and a soft spandex knit backing. Available in a stretch and non-stretch, perfect for apparel, accessories, baby moccasins, bags, etc.

Waffle Knit - (See our range here)  Waffle or honeycomb fabric fabric has a waffle like texture, usually made from cotton or microfibre and woven in a way which makes it very absorbent. The waffle weave also allows air to flow through the towel so that it dries quickly and has a thermal quality.

Brushed Poly Spandex - A soft polyester and spandex blend jersey knit fabric with brushed topside for single brushed, brushed top and bottom side for double brushed. Used for athletic wear, leggings, skirts, dresses, tops, tanks, yoga pants.

Scuba - A variant of Ponte De Roma, double knit, usually just polyester & lycra for a smoother, almost neoprene finish.

Bamboo - As the name suggests, a knitted fabric using bamboo along with other fibres (rayon, lycra etc.) giving a similar finish to Cotton Jersey or Cotton Lycra.

What can I use different stretch fabrics for?

See our Guide to Stretch Fabrics for more information on which projects best suit these fabrics.


If you still find yourself stuck or needing advice please feel free to contact us either by email - sales@girlcharlee.co.uk or by phone 01635 522530, we are always happy to help!

For more ideas, patterns and tutorials, follow Girl Charlee's boards on Pinterest.

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Happy Sewing!
~ Mark & The Girl Charlee Team

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