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The Basics: Textile Weaves


Textile Weaves: Function or Fashion?

Does the way a shirt is woven determine how it is worn? Are some weaves considered more fashionable while others are used primarily for certain functions? At first glance, these seem like silly questions that don’t matter at all, but if you’re like me who has picked up a seemingly lightweight dress shirt for warm weather only to end up sweating bullets all day, then you know how dire those situations can be. So, which is it? Function or fashion?

What are textiles? What is weaving?

Textiles are woven fabrics. Weaving is the process of combining warp and weft thread or yarn in order to produce an interlocked (woven) structure. Warp components run lengthwise. Weft components are pulled in an over-under pattern to run across the width. The end result is cloth.

Some weaves, like the one shown above, use a simple but very durable plain weave pattern. Poplin is one of them. A poplin weave tends to be perfect for warm months. Going with an open weave – being able to see a little space between the warp and weft threads – allows the fabric to breathe amazingly well. Open weaves are becoming less and less common in today’s market, which is a shame since summers are getting hotter every year. Here are some warm weather champs that work well as poplin alternatives.

  • Broadcloth
  • Gauze
  • Seersucker

Twill – another plain weave variant – is distinguished by diagonal lines. It is created by crossing the weft over two warp yarns, then one, and so on. That is, of course, the simple layout. The important information here is that twill yarns are densely packed, resulting in a very strong, thick fabric perfect for mild weather. This fabric becomes a cold weather wonder by the name of tweed. Here are some fabrics that work well as a springtime spinoff of twill.

  • Garbadine
  • Chino
  • Denim

Is the weave of a garment function, fashion, or both?

By comparing two distinctly different plain weaves – twill and poplin – we can see that the type of construction you choose does determine how it is used. But there is a correlation between materials and weave. Take madras for instance. Madras is a plain cotton weave that is vastly more stylized than either twill or poplin. Some would say that madras is 100% a fashionable cloth when put next to a poplin cloth, but both serve a purpose in your wardrobe. Generally speaking, poplin would work better in an office setting while madras sees its time to shine come with the onset of the weekend. Both weaves are lightweight and primarily used for spring or summer styles, though.

So, to answer the question of whether weaves should be considered function or fashion we’d have to say it’s both. Whatever the function – whether that’s to keep the wearer cool or warm or stretch with body movements – then there is a weave for it. How that weave is styled, dyed, layered, cuffed and collared, determines whether or not it fits in or stands out when and where you need it to.

At Original Stitch we offer a fully customizable collection of premium quality shirts, blazers, and pants. Create something that is completely unique to YOU. Our high-quality yarns are hand-selected from – and tailored in – Japan to be extra resistant to wear and tear while maintaining a softer feel than their off-the-rack counterparts.