Design, Photography, & Fashion

What Is Twill Fabric? Definition and Characteristics of the Popular Twill Weave

Written by MasterClass

Jun 14, 2019 • 3 min read

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Twill is a versatile fabric weave, one you probably encounter every day, like when lounging on your couch in your denim jeans. The weave is characterized by its diagonal lines, which are created by an offset in the warp threads. Twill is popular because it is very durable and hides stains well, and it is used for jeans, chinos, furniture coverings, bags, and more.

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What Is Twill?

Twill is one of the three major types of textile weaves, along with satin and plain weaves. The distinguishing characteristic of the twill weave is a diagonal rib pattern. Twill weaves have a distinct, often darker colored front side (called the wale) with a lighter back. Twill has high thread count, which means that the fabric is opaque, thick, and durable. Twill fabrics are rarely printed on, though multiple colored yarns can be used to achieve designs like tweed and houndstooth.

How Is Twill Made?

The most popular fibers used for twill weaves are cotton and polyester, or a blend of the two.
In weaving twill, the weft thread (the horizontal thread) is woven over one or more warp threads (the vertical thread held taught on a loom) and then under one or more warp threads. Each row is offset from the one above, which creates the diagonal pattern. Twill weaves are categorized into fractions to denote how they were woven. For example, a twill labeled as 3/1 means that the weft is woven over three warp threads and under one warp thread.

What Is Twill Used For?

Twill is a durable and versatile fabric that is used for clothing, accessories, and home goods. Here are some popular items made from twill fabric.

  • Denim. Jeans are probably the most omnipresent and popular use of the twill weave. Denim is usually woven from cotton or a cotton blend.
  • Chinos. Cotton twill fabric makes chinos and khaki pants. The difference between chinos and jeans is in the weight of the fabric. Jeans are woven from heavier fibers, while chinos are lighter weight.
  • Tweed, houndstooth, and herringbone fabric. Tweed and houndstooth are patterns created using several different color yarns in a twill weave. Herringbone can also be created using different colored yarns in a twill weave or with the save color yarns to create the directional design.
  • Work clothing. The twill weave creates a very durable fabric, which is ideal for outdoor and industrial work clothes such as overalls and jumpsuits, that get a lot of hard wear.
  • Upholstery. Many upholstery fabrics and home decor items are made using the twill weave, such as sofas, chairs, cushions, and curtains that usually need to withstand several years of repetitive use.
  • Bed and bath linens. The twill weave allows for high thread counts, which makes it very popular for sheets, bedding, and towels. Higher thread count cotton fabrics are generally softer and wear well, which make them great for everyday use.

5 Benefits of Using Twill

Twill is characterized by the diagonal weave pattern on the face of the fabric, and there are plenty of benefits to using twill.

  1. Durable. Twill fabric is very durable and can withstand a lot of wear, making it a great fabric for clothing and upholstery.
  2. Opaque. The twill weave does not create a sheer quality, so all twill fabrics have great opacity, making them great for curtains, housewares, and clothing.
  3. Shows few stains. The direction of pattern helps hide dirt and stains from view, so spills at home or on clothes are disguised more easily.
  4. Shows few wrinkles and creases. Twill fabric doesn’t wrinkle very easily because of the thickness of the material.
  5. Drapes well. Twill has a nice drape for clothing, sheets, and more.

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