Knit or Woven Fabric: What Are the Differences?

Knit or Woven Fabric: What Are the Differences?

Throughout my sewing experiences with Ellie and Mac patterns, I have dealt with both knits and woven without having a specific preference. My goal is the pattern and the look it conveys, not the type of fabric itself.

What about you? How many times have you avoided sewing with woven?

And how many excuses have you come up with to not even try to sew a knit pattern?

Which team are you: Knits or Woven?

Feel Pretty pants

Let’s check their main differences! I’ll show you some of my Ellie and Mac garments along the way.

Good Vibes Joggers


Generally speaking, fabric falls in these two categories: knits and woven.

In a way too simplistic point of view, we could say that t-shirts are made of knits and button up shirts are made of woven fabric. But then… we have knits very little stretch and woven with some stretch percentage! Confused yet??

Let’s get down to it!

  • When you choose a pattern to sew, it’s important to check the fabric it’s recommended for. While some are made to be used either with woven or knit, most are drafted with specific fabrics in mind. Some with more drape than others, some with more body or texture and others with more or less stretch.

You can always hack a pattern and sew it in a different fabric from the one intended or mentioned by the designer, but the fit will probably be different, too.

  • A Knit fabric is made to stretch and return to its original form. Its stretchiness is important to make sure a dress goes over your head and goes back to its form to fit your body.

A woven won’t stretch unless it has a synthetic fibre in its composition. However, it will be fun to play with and create pleats and folds.

  • A knit fabric will not fray and you won’t need to serge it if you don’t want to. Wovens fray and need to be serged to have a nice finish. They can also be finished with a nice French seam.
  • Wovens usually ask for zippers, buttons and other closures. A knit pattern can also ask for these, but it’s usually easy to find patterns without them. This also makes it faster to work with knits… but they can be kind of tricky to handle and work with: they curl up and tend to stretch as you sew.

All in all, both fabrics can be awesome to sew with but they both need different sewing techniques, type of stitches and even needles (ball point for knits and universal for wovens).

Patterns above (from left to right and top to bottom):

Feel pretty pants (woven), Be dreamy dress (knit), Cold shoulder top (knit), Bell sleeve dress (knit), Paperbag pants (stretch woven).

(Written by: Dora Serrano)

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