Fabric Know How -Plain Weaves

There are many weaves, but the two most common are plain weave and twill weave.

In this post we will look at 3 commonly used plain weaves.

Plain Weaves

A plain weave is the most common and tightest of basic weave structures in which the filling threads pass over and under successive warp threads and repeat the same pattern with alternate threads in the following row, producing a checkered surface. They do not unravel easily but tend to wrinkle and have less absorbency than other weaves .

This is the pattern formed by a plain weave fabric.

You can use a magnifying glass to examine the weave of your cloth, if it is not easily visible from the surface gently unravel the warp and weft yarns to see how they are passing over and under each other.
The higher the thread count per inch the higher the quality.

Variations in plain weave fabrics can be produced by using;

  • different fibres for yarns,
  • different yarn thickness,
  • creating a balanced or unbalanced weave ,
  • combining different types of yarn,
  • weave density.

Each of these fabrics has their own characteristics and properties.  There are many different types of plain weaves, here are just a few to begin with;

Chambray

This is often mistaken for denim; denim is a twill weave, chambray is a plain weave. It has the look of denim because it uses a coloured, traditionally indigo, warp thread with a white weft yarn, producing a balanced weave. Classic chambray is made from 100% cotton.  Use for shirts, summer skirts and dresses. 

Weight: For a top – 133g/m² or below

(1st for Fabrics, Benton have a beautiful soft chambray in store.)

Strengths

  • Soft hand
  • Hard wearing
  • Absorbent
  • Wicks moisture
  • Easy laundering
  • Low cost

Weaknesses

  • Stiff drape
  • Can shrink

 

Poplin

Is a strong fabric in a plain weave  of any fiber or blend, with crosswise ribs that typically gives a corded surface.

Poplin traditionally consisted of a silk warp with a weft of worsted yarn.  As the weft is in theform of a stout cord the fabric has a ridged structure, which gives depth and softness to the lustre of the silky surface. It is now made with wool, cotton, silk, viscose, or any mixture of these. The ribs run across the fabric from selvage to selvage. Most commonly bought poplin is made from 100% cotton.

Poplin’s are used for dress purposes . They are formed by using coarse filling yarns in a plain weave. Shirts made from this material are easy to iron and do not wrinkle easily

Strengths

  • Medium Hand
  • Low cost
  • Easy laundering
  • Easy to cut and sew

Weaknesses

  • Stiff drape
  • Low quality shirt poplin can have puckering on seams and seam slippage
  • Cotton/polyester blends pill

Tana Lawn

This fabric is synonymous with Liberty, they produce beautiful soft Tana Lawn with exclusive prints. The weave is very tight with can make too warm to wear in very hot climates.  But is perfect for UK summers. It is similar to poplin but lighter in weight. Use for summer skirts, dresses, blouses and shirts.

Strengths

  • Medium Hand
  • High cost
  • Easy laundering
  • Easy to cut and sew

Weaknesses

  • Stiff drape
  • Can be hot to wear
  • Cotton/polyester blends pill
  • Low quality, creases.

There are lots of other plain weaves we have not covered here.

Why not build your own Fabric Bible – add swatches of fabrics you have bought and scraps from friends projects.  Record where it came from, width and cost as well as any fibre or weave info.  You can also add any important sewing and pressing notes with the swatch for future reference.
If you are a learner at Centre Front Studio you can get a wide range of swatches from us and other clients.

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