You’ve probably heard the term “woven fabrics,” especially if you’ve been browsing the Threadsy site for button-down dress shirts or blouses. But, there’s a lot of great apparel, from shirts to pants, made with woven fabrics. If you’re wondering what you “should know” about this versatile category, you’re in the right place. We’re going to share everything you need and want to know about woven fabrics, from their benefits, to special performance finishes, to how to care for them.
What Are Woven Fabrics?
Let’s start with the basics. Woven fabrics get that name because the threads (either natural or synthetic) are placed at a 90-degree angle to each other until they’re woven together on a loom. Because the threads are woven together, they tend to be stronger than non-woven fabrics.
It’s the strength of these fabrics that makes them so durable and versatile. You’ll see lots of types of apparel made from woven fabrics. Wovens can be made from a variety of fabrics as well, including wool, silk, and cotton and less common ones like chiffon, gabardine and flannel.
The Benefits and Qualities of Woven Fabrics
Many people find that woven fabric blends provide a lot of durability and sturdiness. That’s why, for example, a button-down shirt makes a great business uniform piece that dollars out since it’s so long-lasting. With woven fabrics, you also get a material that doesn’t easily stretch out of shape, especially with daily wear as a uniform piece. Wovens also do well through many wears, machine washes and dries.
Overall, woven fabrics have the following qualities that make them a preferred material to use in a variety of clothing products:
- Thickness and density for durability
- Porosity, which allows for air to flow through easily so that the material “breathes”
- Insulation, which allows the fabric to trap heat so the person wearing it stays warmer longer
- Elasticity, so a woven shirt rarely loses its shape
- Resistance to tears and creases, for all-day, repeated wear.
Because woven fabrics are so versatile, manufacturers use them in a wide variety of apparel, including:
- Women’s button-up blouses
- Men’s dress shirts
Finishes or Treatments Help Woven Fabrics Perform
Woven fabrics are already hard-working clothes. However, when a manufacturer adds treatments and finishes to the material, then the apparel works even harder for you in ways that support your busy day-to-day lifestyle.
These finishes and treatments include:
UV-resistant: This treatment helps block ultraviolet radiation from the sun. A UV-resistant woven shirt can help prevent sunburns, but also keep the material from fading or being damaged.
Antibacterial: This treatment prevents the growth of bacteria, which may cause bodily odors. A great option if you’re selecting a garment for all-day wear, like at a trade show or on sales calls.
Anti-static: This treatment prevents the buildup of static and reduces static cling and discharge for ultimate comfort.
Stain-resistant: Also called stain repellent, this special finish prevents water and oily spills from penetrating the woven fabric. Instead, the watery or oily stains bead up and roll off. This is a great feature for people who work in the hospitality, restaurant or healthcare industries.
Chemical and fire resistant: This specialty treatment minimizes damage from chemicals and reduces the possibility that the item will catch on fire and/or spread a fire.
How to Care for Woven Apparel
Not to state the obvious, but the clothing care instructions label is your best guide to cleaning any woven garment you may have. Here are some general guidelines to care for your woven apparel.
1. Start gently. If you really want to preserve your shirts and hoodies and prevent damage, use a gentle detergent coupled with cold water. Look for a clear detergent that’s made for sensitive skin. You should avoid any laundry detergents that contain bleach or similar additives that can ruin the color of the material.
2. Err on the side of caution. If your woven fabric is a blend of two materials (such as a cotton/silk blend), then wash the garment using the care instructions for the most delicate of the two materials (in this case, silk).
3. Keep it cool. Another big problem for most woven fabrics is extreme heat. That’s why throwing a woven shirt into a high-heat dryer isn’t a good idea. Instead, we recommend hanging your woven shirts or hoodies to air-dry. Once they’re dry, toss them into the dryer for no more than five minutes on a low setting to get any wrinkles out.
4. To dry clean or not to dry clean, that’s the question. If possible, you can’t really go wrong with dry cleaning. However, it’s not necessary to dry clean every single woven fabric. However, we highly recommend you dry clean any wool coats and jackets, as well as very delicate items such as silk blouses.