Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

Design & Technology

Fabrics

Most fabrics are made by weaving or knitting yarns, although non-woven fabrics are made by bonding or felting fibres together. A fabric's appearance, properties and end use can be affected by the way it was constructed.

Woven fabrics

Woven fabrics are made up of a weft - the yarn going across the width of the fabric - and a warp - the yarn going down the length of the loom. The side of the fabric where the wefts are double-backed to form a non-fraying edge is called the selvedge.

There are three types of woven fabrics.

Plain-weave fabric

In plain-weave fabric the warp and weft are aligned so that they form a simple criss-cross pattern. Plain-weave is strong and hardwearing, so it's used for fashion and furnishing fabrics.

Twill-weave fabric

In twill-weave fabric the crossings of weft and warp are offset to give a diagonal pattern on the fabric surface. It's strong, drapes well and is used for jeans, jackets and curtains.

Satin-weave fabric

In satin-weave fabric there is a complex arrangement of warp and weft threads, which allows longer float threads either across the warp or the weft. The long floats mean the light falling on the yarn doesn't scatter and break up, like on a plain-weave.

The reflected light creates a smooth, lustrous (shiny) surface commonly called satin. The reverse side is invariably dull and non-shiny. Weave variations include jacquard and damask.

Back to Textiles index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.