What is terrycloth? In this case, it’s a kind of fabric that’s most commonly found in towels. In fact, the word terrycloth is usually synonymous with towels for most people. However, what makes it different from other fabrics is its specific style of weaving where the fibers in terrycloth are woven into continuous loops.
What is Terrycloth
This trendy but often underrated fabric has been used for more than a hundred years and was first industrially produced by the English manufacturer Christy in 1850. Compared to other popular fabrics such as cotton, silk, and sateen, terrycloth isn’t as widely known.
What Is Terrycloth Made of?
So, what is terrycloth made of? Terrycloth is traditionally woven from cotton, although it can also be made from silk, polyester, and other fibers. Since terrycloth is continuously woven from thread loops, this fabric is typically extra fluffy, absorbent, and soft. It has an increased surface area, making it highly absorbent. In fact, one of the essential characteristics of terrycloth is its highly porous nature. The cotton loops become water absorbers and act like a sponge.
What Is Terrycloth – Why It’s Popular
In most cases, terrycloth is the fabric of choice of towel and bathrobe manufacturers. Aside from its absorbent quality, its loop piles give this fabric a softer feel.
Terrycloth is also easier to dye or print with patterns or customized designs. The terry fabric is also ideal for embroidered designs because of its thick yet still soft nature. Because of its easy-to-dye quality, you can easily find terrycloth in many different shades, colors, and patterns. Terrycloth is also an excellent material for digital prints.
What Is Terrycloth’s Quality
Although most terry fabrics have similar characteristics, they also differ in quality. For example, there’s a terry cloth type with long and extra-long loops, making it softer and more absorbent. Some terry fabrics have one-sided loops, while others have extra-small loops. In general, the different kinds of loops and types of terrycloth fabric make it even more valuable and versatile.
What Is Terrycloth – Terrycloth vs. Microfiber
Many people mistake terrycloth and microfiber as being the same because of their similarities. However, microfiber fabrics actually have distinguishable differences from terrycloth.
Microfiber is typically made from 100% polyester fiber, which is then knitted into fabric. In contrast, most terrycloth fabrics are made from 100% cotton, which is then woven into cloth.
Another difference is that microfiber does not shrink since it’s made from 100% polyester. Terrycloth fabrics shrink during the first couple of cycles. Nevertheless, both are easy to care for and highly durable.
The most notable difference between the two fabrics is their construction. Since terrycloth is made from loops, it is generally thicker and softer, whereas microfiber has a plusher feel only on one side.
What Is Terrycloth – Its Different Types
While it may seem like terrycloth is only one fabric, there are actually three different types.
This is the most common terrycloth on the market. Because of its highly absorbent quality, this terrycloth fabric is what’s usually made into towels and other towel-like items. The loops of this type are longer so it absorbs more water than other types of terrycloth.
French terry is distinct from towel terry because its longer loops are only on one side with the other side smooth and flat. Because of this, this type of terrycloth is usually used in garments like sweatpants, sweatshirts, and other similar clothing.
Most high-quality French terrycloths are made from 100% cotton, although some are made from different fabrics. For example, some French terry fabrics have a blend of lycra, spandex, or polyester.
Because of its unique quality and difference from towel terry, French terry is moisture-wicking. This means that it absorbs sweat from your body. In fact, that’s why it’s also a highly sought-after fabric for gym apparel.
Among the three types, terry velour is considered the least popular type of terrycloth. Terry velour has a similar texture to French terry with its smooth and flat side, while it has a more velvety feel on the other side. Towel terry is made of long loops, while velour is made from thousands of tiny loops.
Terry velour is primarily used in upholstery, blankets, and some clothing items. Aside from this, it’s typically more popular for beach or pool towels instead of towel terry because it’s not as absorbent as towel terry.
What Is Terrycloth Used For
Because of its highly absorbent quality and soft texture, terrycloth fabrics are often used for towels as well as numerous other purposes, including the following:
Since the terrycloth fabric is thick and dense, it can make for excellent bathrobes. In fact, bathrobes made from this material keep you warm after a cold day’s bath or make you feel warmer on a chilly evening. It’s also suitable for those with sensitive skin because of its unique fabric structure.
Because terry fabrics are soft and cozy, they are also perfect for baby apparel, such as bibs, socks, towelettes, and blankies.
Terrycloth fabrics are typically durable and thick making them a suitable material for kitchen gloves, potholders, and kitchen hand towels.
Cold Weather Apparel
Although fleece and wool are considered better for cold weather, French terry can also be perfect cold-weather apparel. This is because items made from French terry can keep you warmer than other fabrics in cool weather.
Suppose you are the kind of person who usually sweats even during cold weather - wearing a French terry sweatshirt can be better than one made from fleece because it keeps you warm without making you feel too hot.
Terry fabrics can also be used for some types of footwear, such as fluffy hotel slippers. You might have seen them during one of your stays. Their soft and comfortable yet highly durable qualities make them a suitable material for hotel slippers.
Sportswear and Accessories
Terrycloth fabrics are highly absorbent, which is why they make ideal materials for sportswear. Terry velour is the top choice since it contains numerous fiber loops, allowing it to absorb more liquids.
What Is Terrycloth – Laundry Care
In general, materials made from terrycloth don’t require much care and attention and it's one of the top fabrics that are considered low-maintenance. In most cases, you can simply wash terrycloth items in a washing machine using cold water and tumbled dry at low temperatures.
What Is Terrycloth – Sewing
Although terrycloth fabrics are low-maintenance, they can actually be incredibly challenging to sew. In this case, you’ll need to know the following:
- It shrinks - When you buy terrycloth fabrics, it’s best to allow a ¼ yard allowance extra for every 2 yards you purchase. Then, you’ll need to wash the material before cutting and sewing to ensure it has already shrunk before you sew it.
- You need to find the direction of the nap - When cutting terrycloth fabrics, you’ll need to follow the direction of the nap. You can just feel the fabric nap direction by running your hands over it. When you do, it’s best to note that the smoother side tells you the upward direction of the nap and the rougher side is its downward direction.
- It sheds - Another factor you need to remember is that terrycloth typically creates a mess of dust when you cut the fabric since it sheds. The amount of shedding will depend on how carefully you cut the fabric.
- It requires thicker needles - Since terrycloth is a heavily built and robust fabric, it can be challenging to sew with regular needles. Use thicker needles to produce high-quality results. (read needle sizes & types)
- It frays easily - Terrycloth fabrics also tend to fray more easily, so it’s best to quickly sew the edges after cutting the fabric to prevent this. Similarly, you can also use a serger or overlocking sewing machine to finish off the raw edges.
What Is Terrycloth? – Today’s Trends
In the summer of 2021, terrycloth apparel had the spotlight. In fact, this summer’s fashion trend was called towel clothes. Surprisingly, it was a runaway trend. This is because despite being heavier than its rivals, cotton, and linen, terrycloth’s fluffy and fast-absorbing quality made it ideal for this summer’s fashion trends.
What Is Terrycloth? – In Conclusion
Terrycloth is a fantastic yet often underrated fabric since not many people are too familiar with it. Yet, you can see it in numerous household items everywhere – from your kitchen linens to your bathroom towels. You can even find this fabric in your furniture’s upholstery or your baby’s blankets. With that said, now that you understand more about what is terrycloth, you can take advantage of this fabric’s versatility.