Purchasing Knit Wear – Construction

How do you judge quality in a knit garment?


  • First check for overall smoothness, flat construction, even stitches an absence of needle holes, broken stitches, or loose threads.


  • The garment should be cut on grain to avoid twisting of seams after washing.


  • Quality seems are surged or finished, lie flat, do not draw up, yet have some give or stretch to allow for dressing.


  • Also look for double needle stitching at armholes.


  • Neckline and waistband seams are a sign of quality and makes these areas more secure.


  • Because knits stretch, shoulder seams and neckbands are often taped for reinforcement. Some garments even feature a second layer of fabric or wide tape at the collar stand or neck back to retain shape in the area.


  • Occasionally, turtleneck sweaters feature a seamless neckline, which is more expensive construction. This approach is designed to hug the neck, lie flatter, and be more comfortable for the wearer.


  • Look at other garment details too:

–            Collars, pockets, and zippers should be smoothly applied.

–            Look at buttonholes; will they stretch out of shape during use?

–            Are pockets reinforced so that the stitching will not come out with repeated use?

–            Note trims as well. Are the stitches secure or will they pull out easily? Also, does the trim or decoration inhibit stretch in the fabric to the extent that it might affect comfort or appearance?


How well a garment is made affects durability as well as appearance over the life of the garment.


Fabric Structure


  • Three key properties that affect stability of knits are: loop structure of the knit, grain of the garment, and fiber content.


  • Look for knits with firm even stitches. The knitted loops should be round, rather than elongated or long as if they were stretched. Often, knit fabrics are stretched during processing. Remember, the rounder the loop, the less shrinkage should occur.


  • Also, check the grain of the garment. Usually the fabric is knit first then the garment pieces are cut out.
  • Some knits are circular. In this case, the body of the garment forms a tube and there are no seams. With either type of construction, the vertical rows of loops in a knit shirt should be at right angles to the hem. With shirts and jackets, the side seams should fall below the underarm, If side seams or vertical rows of loops twist around the body, the problem will only get worse after washing or professional cleaning.


  • Look carefully at the rows of loops; they are indicative of the quality of the item.


For proper care and handling of your knit garments, take them to a member of the Ontario Fabricare Association.   They are specialists in processing these garments.   Go to our website at www.fabricare.org for the nearest member in your community.


Ontario Fabricare Association

120 Promenade Circle, Suite 910 Thornhill, ON L4J 7W9

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