Understanding The Fabric Structure

Entering a fabric store and being clear about what we want to order is not as simple as it might seem. When we refer to a garment, we can say both “the cotton skirt” and “the knitted skirt” and be talking about the same skirt. It is inevitable to ask, where is the difference? Let’s see what a fabric structure really is.

Fabric is the piece that is formed by interlacing threads in a certain way. Although it seems complicated, I tell you that you have surely manufactured a fabric once, not being aware of the transcendental moment.

The fabrics have two basic characteristics:

  • Material: what are their threads made of (cotton, silk, polyester, etc.).
  • Structure: the way in which their threads are intertwined (satin, twill, poplin, etc.).

In today’s post, we will talk about the second feature, the fabric structure. There are two main ways to interlace threads:

Woven structure

Plain weave

The flat fabrics are formed by crossed threads in vertical and horizontal, called warp and weft respectively. The warp address is the most stable; that of the plot, on the other hand, has a bit of elasticity.
The operation is the same as that of a toy weaver, so it will be familiar to more than one.

Flat woven structure


Unlike plain fabrics, knitted fabrics are made up of a single continuous thread that is interwoven creating loops connected between them. Knitted fabrics are much more flexible because the loops deform enlarging and then return to their original size without disconnecting between them. When we do half with needles and use a ball, we are knitting a knitted structure.

Knitting structure

Remember that the type of fabric is independent of the type of thread. For example, with the same cotton thread, both flat and knitted fabrics can be made.

Characteristics and behavior

The characteristics of tissue determine the way it behaves on body volumes. They also influence the pattern and confection techniques that we must use.

Plain weave

Its structure gives this fabric a rigidity and stability superior to those of the point. This makes it suitable for garments that require body and firmness, such as American, pants, and shirts. It is also easy to cut and sew.

The absence of flexibility in flat tissues means that when covering curved shapes (shoulders, hips, chest, etc.) they do not adapt and remain rigid.

To combat this rebellion and for the fabric to adapt to the desired shape, the solution is to take tweezers. With this, we managed to collect the excess tissue and create spaces to house the volumes.

Flat fabric with tweezers

Once the fabric is flat, we can see the clamps that have been necessary to mark the spherical shape of the ball.

Tweezers used in flat fabric


Unlike flat fabrics, the point adapts more easily to curved shapes, thanks to its flexibility. This makes it an ideal fabric for tight garments or requiring ease of movement.

Knitted fabric wrapping sphere

In return, its flexibility makes it more difficult to cut and sew. A special machine foot and specific stitches are needed to work with knitted fabrics.


Each fabric has its advantages and disadvantages, making it perfect or making it the number one enemy of a project. I recommend using the fabric that you indicate in the magazine or tutorial and, from what you learn, an experiment in your own projects.

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