Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Shariful Alam

Many of us still think twill weave is a type of fabric. Even I considered it as a synonym for denim a few years back. 

But when I started working with team Muslin Dhaka and researched more than 100 types of cotton fabrics and construction, I finally understood that twill is a type of weave that has been used for thousands of years. 

Today, we will guide you to everything about twill weave. We will also tell you how it differs from other primary weaves and why the craze of this method is so high. 

So, let’s start right away. 

What is Twill Weave? How Does It Work?

After plain weave, twill is the most common technique with a rich history. Men are more familiar with this weave. Because twill weave fabrics (denim, gabardine) are used in men’s clothing more than anywhere. 

Twill weave creates various types of diagonal lines. You can say it is the primary trait of this construction. 

Here, one weft yarn goes over and under around 1-4 warp yarns in a repeating process. The interception of the weft float gradually moves at least 1 warp thread from the previous row in the whole construction. This creates the diagonal lines we were talking about previously. Most of the time, the angle of the lines stays somewhat around 45 degrees. 

Another way to recognize twill weave fabrics is that you can see the front and bottom of the fabric feature different colors. 

Twill Weave

The front, also known as the technical face, has a denser color. Whereas, the technical back or bottom shows the faded or whiter version of that color. The reason is that both warp and weft yarns have different colors. 

Twill weave gives freedom to weavers. There are different types of twill weaving. If you see labels of denim or flannel fabric, you’ll find the construction is written differently. After telling the EPI x PPI, there can be 3*1, 2*1, 2*2, etc. written with either S or Z at the end. It actually states the type of twill fabric. 

For example, 20×20/70×60, 2/2S. The construction says that the fabric is made of 2*2 left-hand twill. 

Twill weaving isn’t as complex as we think. The only thing that makes us confused is the method has several types (which might look similar at first) and so many derivatives (that aren’t known as twill weaves these days). 

Twill Weave Definition

The weaving method where basically a single weft yarn goes over and under several warp yarns in a regular pattern is called the twill weave. The offsets in the weft lines create diagonal patterns. They help to identify a specific type of twill weave. 

In this method, warp and weft yarns can have different colors to make a new color. For this reason, the wrong side looks faded and the front side looks accurate. 

The Brief History of Twill Weave

According to some historians, twill weaving was invented to make something more durable than the ancient plain weaving techniques. 

It’s not sure where the exact origin of this fabric construction. But we can say that any of the civilizations of Egypt, China, and Peru created this weaving method. Because the connection of twill with human history takes us back even before the birth of Christ. 

Twill fabrics gained popularity pretty quickly during the Middle Ages. The reason is simple. This created textiles that would last longer. Also, the diagonal lines by twill weave made fabrics quite special. 

Undoubtedly, the best textile among twill fabrics is denim, more specifically cotton denim. Denim is the fabric that encourages producers to create more durable fabrics using the twill method. 

It was after the 15th century when twill became as popular as plain weave. In the beginning, France, Italy, and Britain tried to make something unique using the weaving method. This gave birth to Serge de Nigres, that we all know as Denim. 

By the late 18th century, denim or twill fabric became a common term among apparel enthusiasts. Levi started to advertise and promote the fabric as the most durable wear at that time. 

Soon after, the Industrial Revolution made twill weaving easier. Before even the start of the 19th century, textile experts thought of inventing more twill fabrics except for denim. 

Between the 19th and 20th centuries, several twill fabrics like gabardine, chino, etc. started to emerge. All twill fabrics had economy variants. So, people used to buy them on a large scale. 

Now, twill weave is used to make both casual and formal outfits. Not only that, several fabrics are used for upholstery and industrial purposes. 

Twill Weave Construction in Details

In the introduction of twill weave, we already told you how the fabric is created. But now, we will show you some clear images of the twill weave to help you depict the details in your mind. 

(images)

There are different types of twill weave constructions based on different matters. Here are the names of each construction. 

By Direction

  • S-twill or LHT: 

If you see the lines rising from the right bottom corner, the weave is S twill or right hand twill. 

2/1s Twill denim sample

  • Z-twill or RHT: 

If you see the lines rising from the left bottom corner, the weave is Z twill or Left hand twill

3/1 z twill weave Denim Fabric

By Yarn Lines

  • Warp-faced Twill:

If the weave is based on warp lines, it is a warp-faced twill. For example: 3/1, 2/1, etc. The first number in the weave ratio is always higher. It is an unbalanced type of twill.

  • Weft-faced Twill: 

If the weave is based on weft thread, it is a weft-faced twill. For example: 2/3, 1/3, etc. The last number in the weave ratio is always higher here. This is another unbalanced type of twill

2/2 flannel fabric example of even twill

  • Even Twill:

Here, both warp and weft share dominance in the weaving. For example: 3/3, 2/2, etc. You can see the ratio numbers are even. This is the only balanced type of twill. 

Twill Weave Patterns and Derivatives

At this point, let’s name some of the most common patterns of twill weaves and famous derivatives. 

Simple

Simple twill weaves have either one warp or one weft lines for float or underlying intervals. For example: 3/1s, 2/3s, etc. 

Extended

Extended twill weaves have either more than one warp or weft lines for float or underlying intervals. Examples are: 3/2z, 2/4s, etc. 

Multiple

Here, warps and wefts can have multiple lines. For example 3/2 4/1, 2/3 ½, etc. 

Zigzag

The direction of the diagonal parallel ribs go up and down in a regular interval.

Broken

Broken twill is almost like a zigzag, but alteration of the twill line isn’t regular or zigzag.

Diamond

Here, you can find diagonal lines creating shapes that resemble diamonds. 

herringbone texture

Herringbone

This is an alternative twill pattern. Nowadays, herringbone itself is a type of cotton fabric

Double

In this pattern, diagonal lines stay in a set of two parallel lines. 

Elongated

Elongated twill patterns feature lines that create angles less than 45-degree. 

11 Most popular Twill Weave Fabrics

Twill fabrics or twill weave fabrics are as popular as plain fabrics. The global textile industry is so reliant on these two weaves. 

However, we will mention only the cotton fabrics that can have twill construction. Here’s the list below:

Baft

Baft or bafta fabric is a plain-woven fabric. But sometimes, you can find twill bafta fabric with increased weight and durability. 

Although baft is durable, twill bafta comes with added longevity for regular use. You might not become a fan of the texture of this fabric. Still, bafta can offer you a fair amount of breathability due to the low thread count. This feature isn’t always a part of twill weave construction. 

Chino

We’re sure you’ve heard of chinos. Many think chinos pants are made of gabardine fabric. But in reality, chinos are made of cotton chino fabric. 

Chino is one of three trending twill textiles. This fabric is a bit shiny. Also, chino fabrics feel softer than denim or gabardine. Twill chino is also a good material for making jackets and suits. But remember, this material isn’t as strong as denim. 

Corduroy

Usually, twill fabrics offer nice diagonal lines on the texture. But not in the case of corduroy. 

This fabric features ribs or cords instead of diagonal lines. The fabric might feel a bit different than other twill fabrics. However, you shouldn’t mix twill corduroy with plain corduroy fabric. This fabric is good for outerwear and upholstery items. 

Damask

Although damask is renowned for fantastic designs and prints. Twill Damask is a bit exception. 

Twill damask is a different type of cotton damask that has fewer prints and more expressive textures. Usually, damask fabric can be thinner than raw denim or upholstery gabardine. Yet, the fabric is durable. It sustains prints well. 

Denim

Talking about denim in summary will be a bad job. That’s why we’ve already talked about denim fabric in another article. 

31 z twill denim fabric

However, denim is the famous fabric that made twill weave so popular. It is one of the top 5 versatile fabrics in the world. Denim comes in different weight ranges and thread counts. You can pick whichever you like depending on your need. 

Drill

After denim, drill is the strongest twill fabric you can find. The twill weaving is tight and dense here. 

Drill fabric is mainly for making work uniforms or vests. But you can make great DIY covers using it. The fabric is well-resistant to moisture and stain. But it’s hard to find pure cotton drill these days. You can find synthetic or mixed cotton drill fabrics by the yard

Flannel

Flannel is a type of twill weave fabric known for providing the utmost comfort. 

2/2 twill weave flannel fabric

Flannel fabrics have brushed surfaces. It makes any stiff cotton feel soft and plushy. The twill weave is a bit loose in the flannel. But don’t get it wrong by the appearance. Flannel fabrics are strong indeed. You can wear flannel shirts for years. 

Gabardine

After denim, gabardine is the most known term in the list of twill fabrics. 

Gabardine has a smooth texture. You can say that gabardine is made with softer cotton fibers than denim. Even so, gabardine fabrics are durable. Some gabardines with special treatments are good for blocking moisture. Sheen gabardine fabrics are now in trend. 

herringbone fabric

Herringbone

We’ve already discussed the basics of herringbone fabrics. Herringbone is now considered a new type of fabric rather than a version of twill weave. The basic construction here is a 2×2 twill that creates zigzag textures on the fabric. 

 Khaki

Khaki is a military uniform fabric made of twill weave construction. 

You might’ve heard people calling military groups “Men in khaki”. Nowadays, khaki is not only made with faded colors. You can use khaki fabrics for making soft bedding items. A big difference between khaki and other strong twill fabrics is breathability. Khaki is breathable and capable of soaking moisture well. 

 Ticking

Ticking fabric is available in both plain and twill weave constructions. Whatever the weave is, the construction remains dense.

Ticking twill fabric can have a semi-textured finish. But it is less softer than denim or chino. The fabric doesn’t fray or wear off by rough use and washes. 

Twill Fabric End Uses

Twill fabrics are known for their durability. Apart from denim, most of the fabrics aren’t versatile. So, we’re specifying the key uses of twill weave constructions in real life. 

Regular Clothing

A survey says more than 50% of US citizens prefer twill clothes for fashion. And one-third of the people often wear denim or jeans. 

Despite being durable, twill fabrics have soft textures most of the time. That’s why adults and kids can wear them with ease. The average weight of clothing twill fabrics is around 150-250 GSM. 

Twill weave fabric uses regular clothing

Moreover, maintaining twill fabrics doesn’t break a sweat. Washing jeans or twill shirts once a week is more than enough. 

Nowadays, denim is available in more colors than only indigo. You can match or pair your twill clothing with other fashion items to look awesome. 

Winter Wear

We’ve already said a few times that twill fabrics are less breathable than other weaves like plain, rib, or basket. 

Twill weave is tight and dense, can block airflow and maintain heat insulation constantly. That’s why, twill-woven jackets keep the wearer warm and cozy. The weight range of these fabrics is around 250-320 GSM

Wearing a blue denim jacket always gives a retro-American vibe. You might’ve seen protagonists wearing denim and riding bikes in movies. So, don’t worry, twill winter clothing is still in trend. 

Work Wear

Primary twill fabrics were made for the workers of Europe. Because the threads are so strong that sudden knife strokes even fail to cut through thick twill sheets. 

Not only that, twill constructions absorb moisture slower than basic or plain weave constructions. Workers assigned to handle chemicals or liquids can wear twill clothes to protect their skin. 

But note that twill textiles for work wear aren’t smooth or soft like fashion clothes. They can be a bit coarse and rough. 

Upholstery

Twill upholstery fabrics are the heaviest options in the market. After canvas and some other heavy textiles, users prefer thick denim and gabardine for upholstery items. 

Upholstery fabric construction can have 300-500 GSM or above weight range. They are thick and very dense. The fibers can sustain and hold the shape for quite a long time. 

Even after using them for years, these fabrics won’t fray or pile like other fabrics. 

Home Decor

Twill fabrics can offer a fair amount of drapery. That’s why you can see twill curtains on demand. Besides, the fabrics don’t catch dust or stain so easily. You can use twill fabric for window treatment. It will block dust and allergens from entering your house. 

The opaque nature of twill can also block sunlight. Apart from that, twill fabrics for bedding have a higher thread count. The fibers are well-refined. You can feel comfortable sitting or lying over a twill bedding. 

Characteristics of Twill Weave Fabrics

The nature or behavior of all twill constructions aren’t the same. Still, we tried to figure out the common characteristics. Our touch-and-feel experience with several twill fabrics helped us collect all the valid information. 

Let’s tell you the main characteristics of twill weave. 

Texture

Twill weave creates diagonal lines at a 45-degree angle in most cases. The length of the diagonal lines can vary depending on the type of twill weave a fabric offers. 

The lines can be long, short, broken, zigzag, or specially-patterned. 

Sometimes, the lines are so thin and dense that it’s hard to feel them separately. Thus, the fabric feel smooth like a plain weave fabric. 

Outlook

There are two different colors of yarns in a twill construction. One is dark and another is faded or white. The white yarns dampen the density of the dark color and make a different color. 

Characteristics of Twill Weave fabrics : Outlook

That’s why you can see the technical front and technical back in twill fabrics (right side and wrong side). 

Apart from that, very few twill fabrics can feature a fair amount of sheen. For example, chino fabrics. 

Softness

There’s no exact range of softness in twill constructions. Some can be as soft as butter, and some are stiffer than raw canvas fabrics. 

It depends on the purpose of use. Twill fabrics for clothing are soft. But not softer than premium plain weaves. 

Industry-grade twill construction is stiff and hard to bend. It’s because of the thickness and density of the yarns. 

Stretch

The stretch of pure cotton twill fabrics is almost zero. Because the bindings of yarns are so stable that you can hardly tear or change the shape of a fabric. 

Characteristics of Twill Weave fabrics : Stretch

However, the stretch clothes you see with twill constructions have at least 2-5% spandex. That’s why they can stretch according to your posture and movement. 

Thickness

Some lab reports say that the thickness of twill fabrics starts from 0.30 mm. Twill weave can create thicker fabrics than plain or leno weaves

Some industries even make plain woven fabrics using the twill method to make thicker textiles. The range of thickness for any twill fabric is between medium to high. 

Weight

Twill weave is a bit heavy. But not always. 

For example, you can feel your gabardine pants weigh lighter than your winter denim jacket. The average weight of twill construction remains in the 150-350 GSM range. 

Anything lighter can have a loose weave with low yarn counts. But heavier options have very tight construction with decent thread counts. 

Breathability

 1 out of 7 times you can find a twill fabric to be breathable. The reason is the method of weaving. Twill weave barely creates air pockets within a fabric to retain the airflow. 

Our tests show that even the thinnest denim can let 10-15% air pass through it. So, you better not expect the construction to offer breathability. 

Longevity

Obviously, the twill weave is durable. Durable than plain, leno, and other weaves. 

The fibers stay stable and firm inside the weave. You can find one line is forcing another line of yarns to remain at the right place in this weaving method. 

Transparency

Twill weave can never create transparent textiles. You can see people often use twill fabrics to block sunlight from entering the home. 

Moisture Absorbance

The construction can absorb moisture. But at a slow speed. 

If you sprinkle a few drops of water over a twill fabric, you’ll see the fabric will take around 10 seconds or more to absorb all the water. 

Fabric Issues

Twill weave style prevents wrinkling and piling. 

The shrinkage rate of a pure fiber twill fabric is less than 5% most of the time. But sometimes, twill fabrics can fray due to excessive tension on the fibers. If you are able to buy a twill construction with better materials, this issue won’t bother you at all. 

Maintenance

Twill fabric doesn’t require regular and intense maintenance. Instead, you can wash them once a week or thrice a month. 

But we informed you that twill construction absorbs moisture slowly. When the fabric absorbs moisture, it becomes 3-4 times heavier than the real weight. So, washing a twill weave fabric is a test of your patience. 

Features of Twill Weave Construction

Let’s make the long story short. We are now pointing out the good, the bad, the ugly of twill weave.  

Key Features

  1. Strong and durable
  2. Resistant to wear and tear
  3. Rarely wrinkles or piles
  4. Very low shrinkage rate
  5. Some variants can be 80% or more heat insulative
  6. A decent rate of draping
  7. Opaque
  8. Best for regular and rough use
  9. Absorbs moisture slowly
  10. Great protection item
  11. Blocks air, dust, and allergen
  12. Doesn’t require regular maintenance
  13. Hardly collects rough stains or marks

Drawbacks

  1. Heavy
  2. Not a good option to print or craft
  3. Hard to clean
  4. Not a good choice for summer wear
  5. Front and bottom side exist

Alternatives to Twill Weave

Here are some of the best alternatives to twill weave construction:

chambray fabric : Alternative of Twill woven fabric

Chambray fabric

Chambray fabric is the best alternative to twill weave fabrics. It resembles a lot like twill patterns. People call it Denim lite. However, this fabric is lightweight. And doesn’t have any front or bottom side. This is a great upholstery and shirting fabric. 

Plain weave

Tightly woven plain fabrics can also do the job. For example: canvas fabric that we talked about earlier. Although, the texture and thickness might vary. Still, you can use dense plain weave fabric instead of twill weave. 

Basket weave

Basket weave is totally different from twill weave. Still, it can be stronger than plain weave and almost similar to twill in case of strength. Any or both of the warp and weft threads can consist more than one ply of yarn. 

Twill Vs Canvas

Twill weave fabrics are durable and thick. Whereas canvas fabric is a plain weave construction. Yet, it’s thick and sturdy like other twill fabrics. 

Sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate between twill and canvas. So, here are some differences between them: 

Twill

  • Twill weave only
  • Diagonal lines with a soft feel mostly
  • Used for fashion, upholstery, and bedding
  • Can have thin or thick yarns
  • Can fray but resistant to tear and shrinkage

Plain weave Vs Twill Weave

Canvas

  • Mainly plain weave
  • Plain surface with a bit coarse feel
  • Used for outdoor accessories, painting, etc. 
  • Comes with thicker yarns
  • Doesn’t fray or pile but has a small possibility of shrinking

FAQ

Can you get twill fabrics on grain by tearing?

It is not possible to get twill fabric on grain by tearing. The reason is twill is a very durable construction that resists wear and tear. 

What is the difference between an ordinary weave and twill weave?

The key difference between ordinary or plain weaves and twill weaves is twill weaves have fewer binding points than plain weaves. Also, twill weaves create diagonal lines. In contrast, plain weaves remain on regular crisscross patterns. 

What’s the difference between twill and denim?

Twill and denim are used interchangeably most of the time. Twill is actually a primary weaving pattern. And denim is one of the twill weave’s end product. 

Are jeans a twill weave?

Yes, jeans is a twill weave construction. In most cases, denim and jeans mean the same thing. 

What is Twill weave fabric? How to know? 

You can recognize twill weave by seeing the diagonal patterns throughout the fabric. Besides, the fabric should be different on both sides. And the yarn density should be higher than plain weaves. 

Is lawn a twill weave?

No, lawn is a plain weave fabric. Lawn is lightweight, cost-efficient, and cotton fabric made of only plain weave construction.

Summary

You should go for twill weave construction if you seek strength and durability more than softness and breathability. 

But there are different types of twill fabrics out there. So, you better consider for which purpose you’re buying a new textile. Thus, take your time to make a final decision.

You can always read our articles on the types of weaving , Satin weave, different cotton & luxury fabrics to know more.

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!