The twill weave is defined by its diagonal pattern created by the way the weft thread is taken over two or more warp threads. Denim fabric is a typical example of twill weaving and it is easy to see on denim because of the two colors used in the weave. The blue or indigo, and the unbleached or cream threads used to weave the denim and create the twill weave pattern. The twill pattern adds texture to the fabric and as well as making it more durable.
Twill is one of 3 main types of textile weaves. It is created by a weave in which the warp threads are offset by one or more each time, thus creating a diagonal rib in the fabric. This diagonal weave creates a fabric that is extremely durable and stain resistance which is why it is the leading fabric used for workwear and pants. Denim is one of the most popular and well-known twill weave fabrics. If you are wearing a pair of jeans now, look down at how there are very fine diagonal ribs in the fabric which hit the light to create an interesting texture.
There are many advantages of using a twill weave including:
- Durability - This is one of the most prized advantages of twill weave. Its strength and durability make it ideal for workwear and furniture.
- Great drape - Twill weave drapes beautifully due to the diagonal ribs. This means that many thick fabrics still hand nicely for garments and they are soft to touch.
- High thread count - This makes the fabric strong and long-lasting.
- Stain-resistant - The diagonal ribs don't attract stains and dirt easily which is why it is commonly used for workwear.
Twill Weave Types
There are different types of twills created for different uses. Ranging from basic to heavier twills, this type of weave is very interesting and varied.
Basic Twill weave fabrics
Basic twills are categorized by their weight and vary form lightweight to heavyweight.
A lightweight twill is used for scarves and neckties and is made of silk or polyester. They are also used for lingerie and linings of other garments. The fabric may be thin, but the twill weave gives it strength and durability. Challis is a light to medium weight twill that is made of wool or rayon. Challis drapes beautifully and does not wrinkle.
A heavier twill, known as serge, is smooth on the surface and used for hardy outerwear. Trench coats are made of this hard-wearing twill. It was Serge de Nimes, a town in the South of France, where serge was originally manufactured. De Nimes gave its name to the fabric that has become known as denim.
Other twill weave fabrics are frequently made into work clothes like drill and chino. Chino was a summer-weight fabric made for army uniforms. Gaberdine is a popular twill fabric used to make smart suits. It is elegant because it is made from wool and woven in a twill design.
Variations of Twill weave fabrics
Variations of twill weave are made in synthetics like polyester. Twills can be made in different colors and thread counts. Twill weave fabrics have beautiful draping abilities because of their diagonal ribs and weaving pattern.
These variations result in the following types of twill weave fabric:
Broken Twill Weave
The name of this twill does not mean it is damaged in any way. Broken twill refers to the alternating pattern in the weave.
Diamond Twill Weave
Diamond twill is the weave commonly used for rugs. The diamond design is noticeable when the whole rug or piece of fabric is viewed. The diamonds are seen through looking at the woven shapes arranged parallel to each other.
Diaper Twill Weave
A more complex design of diamonds was woven into the fabric to make original cloth diaper.
Elongated Twill Weave
The longer twill pattern is created by crossing more weft threads over the single warp thread and creating an elongated twill weave pattern.
Herringbone Twill Weave
The herringbone variety of twill is derived from twill and considered to be its own fabric because of the zigzag pattern, known as herringbone. The warp and the weft threads are different colors and this makes the pattern more visible in the weave.
Natural Twill Weave
As the name suggests, natural twill is made from natural fibres, such as cotton. In sewing, natural twill is used to make a twill tape that can be used for stabilization as well as labels.
Shaded Twill Weave
A shaded twill is created by weaving three twills in a particular cycle. The cycle moves from using a weft faced weave through to a warp faced weave and interchanging the warp and weft. Different bands of color appear and disappear as you repeat the cycle of the pattern.
Synthetic Twill Weave
The synthetic twill is made from polyester and other synthetic textiles. This is the most common twill fabric used for suit linings.
Zigzag Twill Weave
This is the most common weave and makes the diagonal pattern that is the recognisable part of the twill weave.
Uses of Twill Weave
Twill weave is in demand for a wide variety of manufactured goods. The fabric can be made with a high thread count and is used to make bed linen including duvet covers and light blankets. Table linen and other homeware items like curtains and towels are made of twill. Some light carpets and rugs and even wall hangings can be made of twill fabrics.
There is a twill weave for all seasons:
The lightweight twills like gabardine, covert and Calvary twill are considered for country spring wear. The weather may be slightly cooler, but the cotton twill is a perfect light fabric to keep your garment at just the right body temperature. Herringbone, also known as country tweed, is heavier and considered suitable for cooler weather. The fabric finish can appear rough and rustic for the country or more refined for the city. The weight of the cloth is the telling factor and some herringbone cloth is lined making it extra warm.
Twill weave is durable and versatile and makes up into pants and jeans and jackets too. It really is an all-seasons type of fabric.
How to Care for Twill Weave
Twill weave is known for its durability and is easy to take care of. It is popular with workers who need hard-wearing outdoor clothing. Twill weave fabrics do not crease easily and a quick steam iron or low heat tumble dry is enough to take out the wrinkles.
Twill is easy to spot clean or throw in the washing machine. This makes twill the obvious choice for everyday clothing that needs to be easy to care for. The ability of twill to be an easy-care fabric is what makes it so popular for jeans and chinos.
Further Reading: How to Wash Jeans
Alternatives to Twill Weave
The other main 2 types of weaves besides twill weave are plain and satin.
- Plain weave fabric is the most common type of weave and is created by a simple up and down weave of the warp and weft.
- Satin weave is created when 4 or more weft fibers pass over a single weft
Twill Weave - In Conclusion
Twill weave in different natural or synthetic threads, make up the majority of outdoor clothing -the types of outdoor clothing that reminds us of walks in the countryside in the crisp autumn breeze or the rough and tough wear on the latest safari.
Twill weave will keep a clean look and is perfect for holiday travel. Wrapped up or rolled into a suitcase, the well-worn pair of jeans made in twill weave denim is always ‘good to go’ and a firm favorite for all kinds of outings. Twill offers so many choices it is a fabric that is definitely here to stay.