Fabric Know How – Twill Weave

A twill weave fabric has a diagonal weave.
The diagonal wales are formed by the weaving pattern, which varies somewhat but always involves weft yarns crossing two or more warp yarns.

2:1 twill weave

In successive rows the weft float will move in position by one warp yarn to the right or the left.


2:2 twill weave

There are many twill weave fabrics, we will review 5 of the commonly used twills.


Gaberdine can be made in different fibres, such as wool and cotton; regardless of fibre content gabardine drapes well and has good wrinkle resistance.  It makes beautiful slim skirts.


  • Fine diagonal weave, sometimes it is so fine it is hard to see that it is diagonal.
  • Densely woven producing a good body or it hangs well.
  • The body and drape of the fabric makes it good for tailoring.
  • Wrinkle resistant.


  • Durable and resistant to abrasion
  • Fabric does not crush easily
  • The dense weave makes it water resistant in light showers.


  • More expensive than flannel or poplin
  • Polyester and polyester blends result in pilling
  • Difficult to press, will get seam impressions without a pressing cloth



Another twill weave fabric, less densely woven than gabardine.  The quality can vary according to how tightly woven it is.  The looser the weave the cheaper the cloth.  The twill weave is more pronounced than gabardine. Usually made from cotton or cotton/polyester blend.


  • Diagonal line to the surface.
  • Good drape
  • Smooth surface


  • Durable and resilient to abrasion
  • Easily sourced
  • Good for tailoring or more structured garments
  • Drapes well


  • Loose weaves do not wear well
  • Must be preshrunk before sewing
  • Dark colours are not colour fast
  • Garments need finishing to soften fabric, commercial garments are treated with a crease resistant finish

Cavalry Twill

Originally used to make cavalry uniforms hence the name.  The twill surface is pronounced and easy to identify.  The twill is usually made from 100% cotton, 100% wool or a cotton blend.


  • Pronounced twill, raised diagonal surface
  • High low surface creates contrast


  • Soft drape allows ease of movement
  • Strong fabric
  • Texture can be used as a feature


  • High diagaonal twill can snag
  • High raised twill can look mismatched on designs with lots of seams
  • Can be expensive



A French work wear fabric that has become the most universally popular fabric.  Its twill weave can be produced in a right hand or left hand weave.  The original fibre content was cotton; we now see cotton lycra blends, cotton with hemp or flax and 100% linen or hemp fabrics.  There are different denim weights produce by using different thicknesses of yarn to weave the cloth.

The denim once woven can be finished with softeners, abrasive washes or over dyes.  Garments are often finished with over dyes, abrasive washes or sandblasting.


  • Dark blue indigo warp yarns on fabric face with soft white weft yarns behind.
  • Diagonal surface texture on face of cloth only
  • Face of cloth darker, back of cloth is lighter
  • Hard hand to cloth when first woven. Requires softening


  • Durable and resists abrasion
  • Softens over each wash
  • Diagonal structure helps cloth to drape Good wrinkle resistance


  • Not dye fast, dry rub poor and transfers colour to other surfaces
  • Folded fabric edges wear out quickly
  • May require specialist sewing equipment, such as a walking foot.



On the face, the distinct diagonal runs from the lower left to the upper right.
It has a smooth, hard finish that wears exceptionally well but will shine with use. The shine cannot be removed permanently. It is a good cloth in tailoring as it drapes well.  It is traditional made from a wool or worsted wool yarn but is now available in synthetic yarns and blended yarns.. French Serge is made of very fine soft yarns and has a very fine twill. It is used for dresses or very soft suits.


Usually heavier weight than fabrics such as gabardine but the ribs are much finer.  The surface is smooth and slightly hard.


  • Drapes well
  • Has a slightly harder handle
  • Forms god structured shapes


  • Fabric shines with wear
  • Can be expensive

Next Friday we will have another Fabric Know How post about shirtings x

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