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Shirt Suppliers and Fabrics: An In-depth Look

If you are in the business of selling shirts, you know that a shirt is only as good as it feels. That’s why choosing the proper shirt fabric is so important. After all, a shirt that is uncomfortable to wear is going to make the person that dons it feel fairly miserable. And if a customer is not happy, they will most likely not patronize your business. As such, it is important that you not only get a bead on what fabrics are used by shirt suppliers, but you use that information to determine what fabrics may be right for your clientele.

 

Fabrics at a Glance

 

Diving into the world of fabrics to see what may work best for you and your business is not as easy as it may look. It is a world that goes well beyond the realm of cotton, denim, polyester, and the other fabrics that your average person knows about. To be sure, shirt suppliers have a host of materials at their disposal, including several that don’t readily come to mind. However, getting to know as much information as possible about as many fabrics as you can is crucial to your business’ success, since clothing stores rarely live on denim or cotton alone.

 

Some of these fabrics include:

 

• Broadcloth – This is a tightly woven fabric that is marked by a simple over-under weave as well as a slight shininess. These qualities combine to make a very dressy shirt. The fabric also tends to be thinner and lighter, which makes it an ideal fabric for summertime. White broadcloth fabrics have been shown to be a little transparent, which makes wearing an undershirt in conjunction with shirts made from such cloth to be pretty essential.
• Flannel – This seasonal fabric was highly trendy during the grunge movement in the early ‘90s, and has been shown to be making a comeback in some fashion circles. The fabric’s calling card is its thickness, as they are typically made in thicker weaves, thus making them ideal for the chillier weather in the fall and winter.
• Melange – This particular fabric is known for being very thin yet very soft, smooth, and luxurious. They achieve this reputation because of a special type of construction; one where each of the yarns that are used in the fabric is a combination of fibers which are not-dyed and dyed. These colored fibers are then woven together to create a look that looks slightly yet deliberately inconsistent, which in turn gives the fabric a completely organic quality.
• Oxford Cloth – This casual fabric is made with a symmetrical basket weave that is looser in comparison to some other weaves. It is not to be confused with the more formal Pinpoint Oxford, which can feature a tighter weave and a lighter thread. The heavy, rougher texture and durable nature of the threads themselves has made this particular fabric popular for sports use.
• Egyptian Cotton – Simply stated, this fabric is made from a particular type of cotton that is culled from the plant known as Gossypium Barbadense. This particular cotton can differentiate itself from other cottons because it contains longer staples, which in turn can enable it to be threaded into finer, stronger threads. It typically features thread counts of anywhere between 80 and 100; this thread count allows it to differentiate itself from another fabric known as sea island, which is made from the same cotton plant but has a higher thread count.
• Royal Oxford – As the name implies, this particular fabric is one of the dressier fabrics that shirt suppliers will feature. The reason it has the reputation as being dressy is due to its sheen and texture, as both of those particular aspects are highly visible in nature. This particular fabric should not be confused with oxford cloth or pinpoint oxford; despite the similar names, they are completely different.
• Twill – This fabric is marked by its distinctive diagonal lines or texture; this shape allows the fabric itself to exhibit a shiny quality. It is weaved extremely tight, and can therefore come in extremely high thread counts – so much so, the fabric can sometimes be mistaken for silk. Another important quality to note about twill is that it is relatively easy to iron and has a tendency to be resistant to wrinkles.
• Dobby – The thickness and weight of this fabric can be very similar to broadcloth, and its thickness or the way that it is weaved can almost make it appear as if it is twill. This fabric falls somewhere in between the two fields. This particular fabric tends to feature stripes, although it can be a solid color.

 

Other Things to Note About Fabric

 

Once you have gotten a basic grasp on the various types of fabrics that exist out on the market, there are still a couple of items that you need to be aware of before contacting the right shirt suppliers.

The first of these terms is thread count. Specifically, this term defines the thickness of the size of the yarn that is being used to make the shirt. The rule of thumb here is that the higher the thread count number, the higher quality the fabric – and ultimately the shirt – will be.

 

The second of these terms is ply. In essence, ply is defined by how many yarns are twisted together in order to make a single thread. The typical shirt will be designed to be either single ply, meaning that one thread was woven into the fabric, or two ply, meaning that two yarns are twisted together in order to make a single thread which is then woven into the fabric.

 

Getting familiar with these terms as well as the fabrics that are talked about in conjunction with these terms is essential if you want to maximize the overall quality of the clothing that you want to sell. If you don’t, you greatly increase the risk of obtaining a vastly inferior product, which could ultimately have a negative impact on your business and your bottom line.

A Denim Suppliers Guide To Denim Fabrics & Denim Washing

As you are probably aware, the world of denim is teeming with a near endless assortment of different dyes, weaves and fabrics. ‘Weaving’ your way through this mess can be quite confusing, especially if it’s your first time around dealing with denim suppliers. Today we want to simplify the adventure for you by first addressing what denim is and then talking about the different types of denim. Ready? Let’s go!

 

What Is Denim?

 

The word denim derives from the French phrase “serge de Nîmes.” It refers to a cotton textile that relies on a twill weave with diagonal ribbing to achieve those wonderful pairs of denim jeans we all wear. The amazing thing about denim is that it’s available in so many different styles. Denim can basically be used to match any form of attire.

 

The most original denim was made from 100% cotton serge and referred to as cotton serge denim. These days, denim is available in an abundance of different materials and blends from a variety of denim suppliers. The four most common ones that we want to cover today are listed below:

  • Dry/Raw Denim
  • Selvage Denim
  • Stretch Denim
  • Ramie Denim
  • Poly Denim

What Is Denim Washing?

 

Before we even start talking about the various types of denim, we need to understand what is meant by ‘denim washing’. When people talk bout ‘denim washing,’ they refer to the ‘washing’ techniques used to modify denim before the denim product or products are put to sale and distributed to consumers.

 

Denim is “washed” or “processed” to achieve a special effect, such as fading. The usual goal is to make the denim product look aged and worn. However, there are advanced wash techniques (such as acid washing, stone washing, sand washing, sand blasting) that create contrast, selective fading, etc. Why do people like denim looking like this? You’d have to ask a psychologist. All we know is that such worn-out-looking denim sells like hotcakes!

 

What Is Dry/Raw Denim?

 

Dry or raw denim is denim that has not been washed. It is 100% raw and thus does not contain any special effects like fading. This gives it a very raw, vintage look that’s rugged and sexy. Unfortunately, dry/raw denim comes with a few notable drawbacks.

 

1. It’s very stiff compared to washed denim. This means you must wear it a number of times before you feel anywhere close to comfortable in it.

 

2. It’s not ideal to wash raw denim in a washer/dryer. This fades the denim. The better option is to wear it as much as possible and then dry clean it when necessary.

 

3. It’s a real pain to maintain. To own raw denim, you need to be willing to maintain it religiously! Otherwise, why even waste extra money on it?

 

So why do people buy raw denim? They like its authenticity. The thing about raw denim is that isn’t completely unaffected when you receive it. As a result, every mark, line and tear it accumulates in its lifespan comes from your daily life and activities. Simply put, raw denim tells a story!

 

What Is Selvage Denim?

 

Selvage denim is a special, luxury-grade form of denim that relies on a tighter weave. Back in the day, all denim was selvage. Clothes makers used traditional shuttle looms to construct densely woven denim fabric in long, narrow strips that contained selvage edges. These edges were required so that the strips could be turned into trousers.

 

Things changed in the mid 1900s when clothing manufacturers started using projectile looms to keep up with increasing demand. These looms let manufacturers use wider materials, thus taking away the need for a selvage edge.

 

What makes selvage denim so pricey is the fact that it’s so durable and crisp and classy. Plus, making selvage denim is harder than making non-selvage denim.

 

What Is Stretch Denim?

 

Back in 1959, a chemist named Joseph Shivers invented what we now know as spandex. It’s a synthetic fibre that possesses incredible elasticity. Now imagine what happened when, two decades later, fashionistas decided to combine spandex with denim? Stretch denim was invented!

 

Stretch denim differs from other forms of denim because it conforms to the body’s shape. Most denim items needed to be broken in before they fit perfectly. This isn’t the case with stretch denim.

 

Unfortunately, because of the stretch factor, stretch denim tends to be less durable. Over time, the elastic fibres break down, thus causing the denim item to lease its stretchiness. Stretch denim products also fray much easier than regular denim garments.

 

What Is Ramie Denim?

 

Ramie denim is an especially unique form of denim only dealt with by a select few denim suppliers. It is simply standard denim mixed with the fibre crop Boehmeria nivea, or ramie. This crop is added to denim because of its numerous advantages:

  • It’s naturally resistant to bacteria and mildew.
  • It’s very absorbent and thus comfortable to wear.
  • It’s resistant to stains.
  • It’s not damaged by mild acids.
  • It dyes very, very easily.
  • It can withstand high-temperature laundry.
  • It doesn’t shrink in size.
  • It can be bleached.

By combing ramie with denim, denim suppliers are able to make their denim garments more resistant to bacteria, mildew, stains and more. They are in effect able to improve it just by making a simple change to their garments’ construction.

 

What Is Poly Denim?

 

Poly denim refers to the mixture of denim with polyester, the latter of which is a manufactured fibre that’s extraordinary strong. It’s also resistant to mildew, shrinkage, stretching, chemicals, wrinkles and even abrasions. Plus, it washes and dries much more easily. These factors make poly denim very useful for when constructing work clothes. The drawback is that polyester makes denim garments less breathable.

 

What Are Denim Suppliers To Do With All This Info?

 

This is a lot of information to cover, but it should just be a starting point. If you are serious about denim fashion, it would be prudent for you to continue learning as much as possible. Speak with denim producers. Examine some denim gear. Become an expert on denim!

How Turkey is Using Apparel Sourcing to Clothe the World

Check out any one item of clothing you’re wearing right now. Your shirt, your pants or anything else with a label will do. Now, without looking at the label, do you know if this item of clothing is made from cotton, polyester or something else? Don’t worry if you don’t know – most people don’t.

 

While you might not think a lot about fabric, you do come in contact with it every day, usually all day long, with different fabrics surrounding you at night. Fabric isn’t just keeping you warm and fashionable. It’s also the lifeblood of the entire fashion industry. It is, literally, the fabric that holds the entire industry together.

 


Let’s go back to that item of clothing you’re wearing. While you probably know what store your shirt came from, do you know where it was actually made? The answer usually depends on what the item is. Fashion has always been a particularly global enterprise. If you’re looking for stylish, modern women’s fashions, Paris, France, is the place to be. If you’re interested in classic men’s styles, you’ll be looking along Savile Row in London, England. Milan, Italy, is your home for casual elegance. And New York and Los Angeles are your source for America’s fashions. But what about the cotton, polyester and other textiles which make up these fashions? Would it surprise you to learn it might just be from… Turkey?

 

The country of Turkey isn’t just ready to roll, it’s ready to sew. This European country has quietly been working hard, and is now the number one apparel sourcing nation in the European Union. Turkey’s Apparel and Textile industry has been a powerful engine for Turkey’s economy, roughly 10% of the entire GDP, and now the country is looking to expand that success by expanding exports to as many countries as possible.

 

Turkey’s status as the reigning champ of cloth has been in the making for decades now. The entire country began industrialization efforts in the 60’s, when great effort was put towards revitalizing their entire textile industry. At first, the industry was limited to small workshops. But as the 1960’s turned into the 1970’s, production improved in leaps and bounds. Soon, Turkey was exporting their wares to other countries. Starting in 1980, Turkey stopped importing textile machinery, and started in-country production of low and mid- level machinery. Today, they produce a huge variety of quality textile machines, and they’re also one of the most important clothing exporters in the world.

 

Three key factors as to why Turkey has found such success as an apparel sourcing nation are its:

  • Low labor costs
  • Qualified workforce
  • Relatively cheap materials

With over four million people employed, the Turkey textile industry is worth $20 billion. Almost 60% of its textiles are exported, making the country one of the top ten producers of wool and polyester in the entire world. So even if your clothing item wasn’t made in Turkey, it’s very likely the polyester it’s made from was. Not made of polyester, you say? Your item of clothing is made of cotton, you say? (Oh, by the way, you can look at that label now.)

 

There’s a very good chance that cotton came from Turkey, too. Turkey is the seventh largest cotton producer around the globe. Not only do they export this cotton, they also increasingly use it themselves to produce clothing. Exporting ready-to-wear clothing is better for Turkey financially compared to exporting just the cotton.

 

The United States, Russia and Germany are some of the main recipients of all of these textile exports. But there are other major players with is comes to apparel sourcing, such as China.

 

In 2005, a decades old quote system on Chinese exports expired. This has led to an increase in China’s textile exports. With their massive population, and relatively loose laws related to production, China has a massive workforce able to work long hours in order to make a lot of textiles for export.

 

This has affected apparel sourcing across the globe, including in Turkey. They weren’t able to compete on a production level as they would have liked. All of their progress over the decades was threating to come undone.

 

Recently, however, Turkey’s textile industry has shown surprising new life. After all, Turkey once took what was basically a non-existent textile industry in the 60s and turned it into one of the greatest in the world in just four decades, so it’s never wise to count them out.

 

Since Turkey is a European country, it was able to easily adapt into European standards as they relate to product quality, environmental regulations and worker safety, issues which are sometimes an area of concern in Chinese textile plants. As China has started producing lots of lower quality textiles and apparel, Turkey has repositioned itself as makers of some of the world’s finest textiles. Apparel sourcing has shifted to emphasize a new focus on quality. People have made clothing in Turkey for several generations now, and they want the world to know how good they are at it. The “Made in Turkey” label is achieving recognition around the world as the sign of quality apparel.

 

When you go shopping for clothes, you have options from all around the world. The global textile and fashion economy means most clothes are likely to be more well-traveled then the average wearer. It can be confusing. While you want a good price on your clothes – and that’s the rationale behind textile globalization – you also want a quality product.

 

“Made in Turkey” might be just the perfect label for the American clothes shopper. They have the best equipment, easy access to cheap and high quality cottons and polyesters, and their citizens are some of the finest clothing artisans in the world. The next time you go shopping, you just might be surprised what you look for when you look at the label.

Gauging a Crucial Tool in the World of Knitwear Designers

Knit gauge is arguably the most important tool of the trade in the world of knitwear designers. In essence, knit gauge will let you know what stitches per inch are in a garment – an important measurement to note, since there is no one universal stitch size that can be used. There are several reasons why this number could vary from fabric to fabric, including:

  • Needle size
  • Yarn
  • Stitch pattern
  • Individual knitter

It is important that you determine exactly what your knit gauge is before you undergo the process of assembling a garment. Even if your stitch is off by the slightest, it can spell disaster for your finished product.

 


Types of Knit Gauges Used

 

Because knit gauge is not a one size fits all type of operation, there are several different gauges that knitwear designers can deploy in order to get the proper stitching, based on both the type of garment being stitched and the knitwear designers’ own style.

Some of the more common gauges that are utilized factor in the thickness or layer of a folded material, otherwise known as ply. This thickness is measured by how many yarns are twisted together in order to make a singular thread. In the United States, these measurements are listed as 2-ply, 3-ply, and 4-ply. In other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, you may see 5-ply, 8-ply, 10-ply, or even 12-ply gauges.

There are a host of subcategories that derive from these particular measurements. The thinnest threads in these particular subcategories are known as fingering, whereas the thickest threads are known as bulky. The categories that are found in between this range include sock, sport, light worsted, worsted, and chunky. Not surprisingly, the thicker threads are utilized to make thicker products, up to and including sweaters or rugs.

 

The Importance of Swatches

 

As most knitwear designers will tell you, a critical part of the knit gauge process is to create a swatch. A swatch will put the proper knitting metrics into your grasp, giving you a small sample size as to how a fabric will look given the parameters that you decide to utilize while creating a knitted piece. These parameters will thusly eliminate any and all guesswork that you may have before you start putting your piece together.

Creating a swatch is essential if you are going to be putting together something that has exact measurements. If you are designing something that can be viewed as haphazard in nature, such as a baby blanket or a scarf, then creating a swatch is not as critical to the production of such items. However, if you are knitting something that is designed to fit an individual, then creating a swatch is a must. While there is a prevailing thought in some circles that a person can go on feel while putting together a piece of clothing and therefore forego the swatch process, it is inadvisable to do so because a person’s knitting tension has a tendency to change over a period of time based on how they knit or even what their mood may be.

 

Calculating the Knit Gauge Swatch

 

Knitting a gauge swatch requires that you use a little math as well as a little knitting skill. The first thing that you need to do is to figure out what will be at least six inches of stitches with whatever yarn or thread you choose to use and cast on that many stitches. That being said, you should be cognizant of the fact that the longer you make the swatch, the more accurate your measurement will end up being. Once you have figured out the length of your swatch, you should then knit a few rows in a garter stitch. As you do this, you should keep about an inch’s worth of stitches at the edge of the garter stitch. If your gauge does not give you a definitive pattern stitch, you should work in a stockinette stitch for a few inches. If you do have a pattern stitch, you must continue knitting your swatch in this particular pattern.

Once you have put together a few rows of knitting, you can then measure your work and approximate how close you are to your desired accuracy. This is where the math comes in, as you should measure four inches worth of your swatch, count the stitches in the swatch – including half-stitches – and then divide the number by four. This is the number of stitches per inch. If you wind up with a fraction, that is perfectly fine.

If you determine that you have more stitches per inch than your pattern needs, you have made a stitch pattern that is too small. In this case, you would need to use a larger needle. Conversely, if you have fewer stitches per inch than your pattern needs, you have made a pattern that is too large. In this case, you would need to use a smaller needle. Typically, if your variance is around an inch per stitch or less, you would just need to worry about swapping out your needle. However, if the variance you create is greater than one inch per stitch or more, you may need to take a look at utilizing a different yarn or thread. Keep in mind that not every thread will work for every design, so don’t try and force a thread to create a piece of clothing that will not work.

Even though you should always make a swatch for a fabric that is going to be worn by someone, most knitwear designers are able to develop a sense of what may or may not work over time before they create the swatch. That being said, the only way to develop this type of sensibility is through the process of trial and error. However, if you wish to strive for perfection in the design of your clothing, then developing this sensibility is worth the time and the effort.

Taking a Spin: Yarn and Knitwear Manufacturers

It’s well known that different clothing is made from different types of fabric. However, the actual yarns that knitwear manufacturers utilize are not nearly as well known as the finished products that are created from their use. As such, we typically don’t pay much attention to them.

 

However, it is important to be mindful of the various types of yarns that are out there, just because such knowledge will allow you to have a more intimate understanding on the functionality of an article of clothing that goes beyond the realm of merely looking good. If you are looking to join the ranks of the knitwear manufacturers or if you are just looking to make something nice for yourself or for someone else, having a grasp of how a particular yarn can provide a measure of functionality can be a pretty important part of the overall design process.

 

Wool: The King of All Yarns

 

The most famous yarn on the market is wool. Made from the fleece of sheep, this particular yarn is well-known for being cozy and comfortable, which is why it is such a popular yarn for knitwear manufacturers that create sweaters.

 

While wool is a well-known commodity in the knitting world, people may not realize that wool as a whole is actually representative of a pretty sizable group of subcategories that invariably showcase the textural versatility of the yarn. Some of these subcategories include:

  • Merino wool – This is wool that is derived from a breed of sheep that were originally from Turkey and Central Spain. It is considered to be the finest wool in the world, and its roots as a high-end yarn can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages. It is commonly used in high-end performance athletic wear, such as clothing meant for hiking, skiing, and cycling.
  • Shetland wool – This is wool that is made from the sheep that is native to the Shetland Islands of Scotland. They are often used in their natural color, meaning that they are not dyed prior to their usage. The coarser style of this wool is often used to make tweed.
  • Virgin wool – This is wool that is made directly from the fleece of an animal. It is not recycled from any other pre-existing wool garments.
  • Icelandic wool – As the name suggests this is wool that is made from sheep raised in Iceland. Because they are on an island and therefore have been isolated from the rest of Europe for centuries, they are considered to produce wool that is purer than other mainland breeds. They are known for having long, glossy outer coats and fine, soft inner coats.
  • Lamb’s wool – This is lamb that comes from a young lamb’s first shearing – typically around seven months after the sheep’s birth. It is known for having soft, elastic properties, and is often used for high-grade textiles.
  • Washable wool – This is wool that is treated either electronically or chemically in order to destroy the outer fuzzy layer or fibers that may otherwise develop.

Each of these wools brings a different dimension to the table; something that may not be readily apparent amongst those that don’t possess much knowledge on the various wool subcategories.

 

Other Types of Yarn

 

Of course, wool is not the only well-known fabric that knitwear manufacturers will utilize in order to create their clothing. These other fabrics help to broaden the scope of clothing options that a person can utilize.

 

Cotton

 

Arguably the most common yarn that is utilized by knitwear manufacturers is cotton. It is utilized as much as it is because it is a very durable yarn, which makes it a popular fabric for use in kids’ clothing. It is also very breathable, making it very comfortable to wear particularly when the temperature rises. Its highly washable qualities also make it a low-maintenance fabric to tend to.

 

Silk

 

Silk resides on the opposite of the yarn spectrum, as it has a well-deserved reputation as being extremely luxurious in nature. While it is rather ironic that such a fine fiber is produced by silkworms or moth caterpillars, it has nonetheless built up a sterling reputation as being a precious commodity. From a practical standpoint, silk has high absorption properties which makes it a comfortable fabric to wear while active or during warm weather. Plus, its smooth and shiny appearance gives it a sleek, elegant appearance, thus making it a popular fabric to utilize for formal shirts, blouses, and ties.

 

Linen

 

Another popular natural fiber is linen. This particular textile is made from the fibers of the flax plant and has a reputation for being rather tough to manufacture. However, it is highly valued for its reputation as being exceptionally cool and fresh during hot weather. It is also one of the more versatile fabrics that can be produced, as linen can be made into bags, towels, bedding, tablecloths, and napkins in addition to clothing.

 

Synthetics

 

Of course, one does not even need natural products in order to produce clothing for the masses. Synthetic yarns such as nylon, acrylic, and polyester have various advantages over their natural counterparts in that they can be treated to have qualities that are simply not possible with fabrics that are created organically. For instance, synthetic fabrics can be made to be waterproof, wrinkle-free, stain resistant, flame resistant and moth repellent. They can also be manufactured to have heightened elastic properties. The downside to these synthetic fabrics is that they tend to have a negative impact on the environment. Most synthetics are non-biodegradable, which means that they do not break down in the soil when they are no longer useful. What’s more, the chemicals that are used to manufacture the products can also escape into the environment at this particular stage.

Each yarn that can be used in order to produce clothing contains various pluses and minuses that can only be truly understood when you scrutinize them closely. Getting a better understanding on what these yarns can and cannot do can ultimately prove vital in you determining what kind of clothes you wish to make.