What Are the Advantages of Knit Fabrics?

The minute loops of yarn give knit fabrics stretchability.
The minute loops of yarn give knit fabrics stretchability. (Image: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images)

From softness to elasticity, knit fabrics offer many advantages. Fashionistas love knits for their comfort and visual appeal. While knits are a challenge for beginning sewers, these fabrics also allow for the creation of many different styles of clothing. Knitwear brings a high-degree of flexibility to the wardrobe.

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Moisture Absorbing

Some knits have excellent moisture-wicking ability, especially those made from plant-based materials. For instance, cotton is able to absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water. Knit fabrics are looped together from a single or double yarn creating small openings in the finished fabric. These openings serve as pockets for holding air or minuscule amounts of water. This unique feature also makes knits warmer that other fabrics, even when the fabric is soaking wet.

Plenty of Stretch

Sewing with knits is a challenging process primarily because they have plenty of stretch and its edges may curl up as you work. While sewers have problems sewing knits, this feature also makes it possible to create form-fitting garments that do not require buttons, zippers or hooks. Knit materials give in all four directions, which is useful for creating comfortable t-shirts, undergarments and other one-piece garments.

Easy Care

Depending on the material used in the fabric and the size of the knitting, knit fabrics represent easy care. The care tag indicates if the fabric is machine washable, but this is true of most cottons, polyesters and other ready-to-wear garments. Use the gentle cycle and a mild soap when washing. Wool knits do take more care, requiring hand washing in warm water with liquid soap and are laid out flat to air dry to avoid stretching the garment's shape.

Comfortable to Wear

Most people choose to wear knits for their softness, warmth and stretch. Whether a handmade cable-knit sweater or machine-knit cotton t-shirt, these garments are very comfortable. The softness does depend on the fabric or material yarns used. While cotton fabric is soft, some turn to Merino wool for an extra level of soft-to-the-touch extravagance. Properly cared for knits retain their shape and elasticity and do not wrinkle easily, which increases their aesthetic appeal.

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