How to tell if a fabric is high quality
If someone asked you to evaluate whether a fabric was of high or low quality, where would you begin?
Here are just a few factors you can assess yourself to tell if the garments you’re buying are worth the dosh…
Density of weave
For many of us simply seeing that a fabric is thin or sheer is enough to convince us that it is poor-quality. However this is not always true.
While people often talk about the ‘thickness’ of fabric as an indicator of quality in clothing, what they actually mean is the density. Think about it - if we were to judge the quality of fabrics by their thickness, we would be condemning all silky, lightweight garments and summer would definitely become a sweaty ordeal.
But how can you assess the density of a fabric?
Density is all about the amount of fibre that was used to create a piece of fabric - the more fibre used, the stronger the fabric and the longer its lifespan.
When you look very closely at a fabric, you’ll be able to see the individual yarns that make it up. The more tightly spun and densely packed these yarns are, the better. If you are unsure of what you are looking for, hold the fabric up to the light and, if possible, stretch it slightly to see how much light it lets through - this can serve as an indication of the amount of fibre used and how tightly packed the yarns are.
Even lightweight or ‘thin’ fabrics will not let through too much light if they are high quality. Fabrics that pass this test, whether they be thin or thick will likely be strong, durable and high-quality.
Low quality fabrics on the other hand often use less fibre and have loosely packed yarns as a means of saving on cost. This means that not only with the fabric let a lot of light through in your testing, but it will also be brittle and prone to damage.
This is one of the reasons that buying quality clothing will often have a high price point, as using more fibre and taking the time to densely pack the yarns costs money. While high quality products may require a higher initial financial outlay, they will likely save you money in the long run as the products will last for a very long time without losing their integrity.
It is, however, important to remember that some garments are intended to be gauzy as part of their design, and this feature can be a desirable fashion choice. The key is to be informed about what you are buying and the purpose it will serve.
Quality fabric shouldn’t itch or irritate the skin. If you do buy a product that irritates your skin, even if it is a beautiful garment that has passed your quality testing, it will most likely live a long and happy life sitting in the back of your wardrobe and end up being a waste of money.
If you are on the fence about whether a fabric might irritate or itch your skin, try rubbing it against your face - it may sound strange, but the skin on your face is very sensitive and will indicate whether the garment will be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Fibre make up
While some people may shy away from products made up of synthetic fibres labeling them as poor quality, this is not always the case.
Indeed, many designers choose to use synthetic fibres in their garments to take advantage of their specific properties including enhanced durability and drape.
Synthetic fibres can also be a great addition to natural fibres to improve the fit and feel of a piece of clothing. For example, adding a little elastane to any fibre will allow for stretch in a garment and will help to ensure the garment maintains its shape after washing.
So, unless you are allergic, be wary of assigning all garments using synthetic materials to the ranks of poor quality. You’ll not only limit your choices significantly, but you also might be missing out on a great product.
To learn about how we quality test our fabric at Bourne Crisp click here.