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Twill Fabric

Identified by diagonal or parallel ridges, twill fabric is an iconic weave construction, which adds style, character and flair. Discover more about twill material, its properties, advantages and how it is made.

What is twill fabric?

Twill is a general term for woven fabrics that are woven with a twill weave construction. This woven pattern produces diagonal lines on the face of the fabric and is its most predominant feature.

There are several twill variations, and the thickness and character of the twill lines are determined by the type of yarn and fibre used. There are many ways to alter the appearance of twill. Decorative twills, such as Houndstooth and Herringbone, are constructed using different yarns, harnesses and threads.

The variations of twill material include:
  • Even and uneven twills
  • The angle of the twill diagonal
  • Twill direction
  • Reversed and broken twill weaves
  • Fancy twill weaves
  • Colour and weave effects

How is it manufactured?

Twill fabric is one of the 4 basic woven fabric structures, the others being satin, plain and sateen.

When making twill material, one thread goes over and under 2 threads repeatedly. The weft thread is passed over one or more warp threads and then under two or more warp threads and so on, with a "step" or offset between rows to create the characteristic diagonal pattern.

This contrasts with a plain weave which has a singular grid pattern.

Purposes of twill fabric

Traditionally made from cotton, twill fabric is a popular choice for when a heavy and sturdier fabric is required.

There are 3 kinds of basic twill fabric and each has its own purpose:
  1. Lightweight also known as surah or foulard. Lightweight twill fabrics are made of silk or synthetic fabric, such as polyester. Although the fabric used is thin, the weave makes it quite durable. This material is used for items such as neck ties, lingerie, slips and linings.
  2. Heavy twillalso known as serge. Heavier twills are traditionally used for outerwear, such as trench coats. Thicker versions are used for work clothing.
  3. Denimgenerally has blue cotton yarns in one direction and white cotton yarns in the other direction. This emphasises the diagonal wales of the fabric. It is strong and durable and a very popular choice for jeans.
Other twill weaves that are often used for clothing include, calvary twill – smooth, made from wool with diagonal lines, drill – heavy, made from cotton, and chino – relatively lightweight, made from cotton.

Properties

Twill material is instantly recognisable, thanks to its complex weave pattern, and it has certain properties which makes it suitable for a myriad of end uses.
  • It is durable
  • Robust
  • Easy to care for
  • Easy to repair
  • Can be water and air resistant
  • Has an attractive woven face
  • Has a high thread count
  • Has several variations

Advantages of twill fabric

The high thread count of twill, due to its tightly woven construction, gives this textile potential to be both water and wind resistant. If you are seeking a material which is sturdy and robust but still has a lovely drape, then twill fabric or cotton twill is the best option. Thanks to its diagonal weave, it drapes better than plain weave fabrics.

Another key advantage is that twill withstands heavy wear and tear, making it a great choice for home furnishings, outerwear and jeans. It doesn’t need to be ironed as frequently as a plain weave and is relatively easy to repair if it gets snagged.

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