Double knit fabric is a medium to heavyweight textile that can be used for a variety of garments. Unlike most knit fabrics, which are used for garments that require stretch to fit properly, the unique construction of double knit results in a very stable fabric suitable for items whose weight would distort with any other knit.
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Double knit fabric is constructed with two sets of needles, creating loops on both the front and back. These loops are interwoven so that the two layers are intertwined and will not separate. This results in a dense fabric that is twice the thickness of a normal knit fabric and possesses firm stability on par with woven fabrics. Double knit fabric originated in Italy, according to www.fabrics-manufacturers.com.
Because the unique construction of double knit fabric is fundamental to the stability of the textile--instead of reliance on the stability of the fiber itself--the materials used to construct this fabric can vary greatly. Both natural fibers, such as silk, and synthetics, such as polyester, can be used to create double knits. Cotton and rayon are popular choices for double knit construction.
The double-needle construction of these fabrics results in a fabric that, unlike single knit fabrics, does not curl at the edges. Because knitted loops constitute both the front and back of the fabric, it can be reversible--or either side can be used as the "right side." Double knit fabric is also wrinkle-resistant, making it ideal for travel wardrobes.
Double knit fabric is unique among knits for both its weight and stability. Because of these characteristics, it can be used for projects normally reserved for woven fabrics, including jackets, pants and skirts. These items, if constructed from single knit fabric, would distort and stretch out upon wearing. Double knit fabric can even be used for bandages, since the edges do not curl.
Double knit fabrics generally withstand dry cleaning and do not shrink. However, care should always be taken when washing any fabric. It is recommended to clean any fabric according to the fibers from which it is constructed. Cotton may shrink, and polyester should not be subjected to high heat, such as a hot iron. If the double knit fabric is a blend of fabric, take care to treat it according to the more delicate fiber in the blend.