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What Is French Terry Fabric? Will It Keep You Warm?

Trying to keep track of which type of fabric is which can be confusing if you’re not a tailor or clothing designer. Most people are just concerned with feeling comfortable in their clothing and looking their best. However, understanding the differences between different types of fabric is important because some fabrics are better suited to certain occasions or situations than others. For example, if you want to feel as comfortable as possible while you relax on the weekend, you might want to choose french terry fabric for your loungewear, while if you’re going to do an intense workout, you’d probably prefer something with moisture-wicking, odor-fighting and cooling capabilities, like bamboo performance fabric. With so many different fabric options available, many of which have similar sounding names, it’s easy to get confused. Many people are curious about what french terry fabric is and if it will keep them warm. Also, how does french terry fabric differ from terry cloth?

What is french terry fabric?

French terry fabric is a soft, comfortable fabric made primarily of cotton. While some french terry fabrics are made of 100 percent cotton, the material can also be made from a blend of cotton and a small amount of lycra, rayon, spandex, or polyester, as well as organic soy or cotton fibers. The material was first used beginning in the 1980s, so the majority of people living in the United States now have at least one article of french terry clothing without even realizing it. It’s a knit fabric with soft piles of yarn on one side of the fabric and loops on the other, which makes it similar in nature to jersey. Most people will recognize french terry fabric from the material used in sweatshirts, which is soft on the inside where your body touches the material and smoother and soft on the outside. Using this type of knit creates the soft, comfortable, plus texture that you’ve come to expect from loungewear basics like sweatpants and cozy sweatshirts. French terry fabric is considered a midweight fabric, which means that it is heavier than the cotton you’d find in an average t-shirt, but lighter than fabrics that would be used to make sweatpants designed for cold weather use. French terry fabric is moderately absorbent and comfortable to wear, and although it is moisture-wicking in the sense that it will absorb sweat from your body, the fabric is not as moisture-wicking as other fabrics that are designed for use during performance or exercise. The fabric is highly versatile and can keep you cool in warmer weather or warm in cooler weather.

What are knit fabrics?

Knit fabrics differ from woven fabrics in terms of how the threads of yarn are woven together during the manufacturing process. Unlike woven fabrics, which are made by weaving straight threads together, knit fabrics feature interconnecting loops that give the fabric the ability to stretch and reduce fraying. There are dozens of different types of knit fabrics, each with a different amount of stretch and different qualities, but some of the most popular types include french terry fabric, terry cloth, and sweatshirt fleece. Sweatshirt fleece, french terry, and terry cloth are all single knit fabrics, which consist of a single yarn that is knitted together. On the other hand, double knits consist of two layers of single knits that are woven together to create an intermeshing pattern. Finally, warp knits are fabrics made with multiple yarns that create loops knit together to create a zigzag pattern. These fabrics typically have more stretch than double knits or single knits.

What is the difference between french terry and terry cloth?

Because the names of the materials sound so similar, french terry fabric and terry cloth are often confused, and many people think they are the same thing. However, you probably wouldn’t want to wear a sweatshirt made of terry cloth. Terry cloth is the fabric most commonly used to make bath towels and bathrobes, while french terry fabric is most commonly used to make sweatshirts, sweatpants, and other casual clothing like joggers. French terry is softer and smoother than terry cloth, and while both feature a similar soft pile, you’re likely to be more comfortable when your clothing is made of french terry. French terry fabric is moderately absorbent, while terry cloth is highly absorbent, making it better suited to drying off after a swim or shower. Terry cloth is most easily recognized by the large, noticeable loops of yarn on both sides of the material.

What is the difference between french terry and sweatshirt fleece?

Given that french terry fabric is commonly used to make sweatshirts, sweatpants, and joggers, you may be wondering what the difference is between french terry and sweatshirt fleece. The main difference between the two fabrics is the way that the materials are finished during manufacturing. With both french terry fabric and sweatshirt fleece, yarn loops are formed on the back side of the fabric, which becomes the inside of the garment when it is worn. However, the yarn loops are left intact on french terry fabric, which makes the fabric moisture-wicking, breathable, and absorbent. By contrast, the yarn loops on the back of sweatshirt fleece are cut up and shredded, creating the soft, fuzzy feel that so many people are accustomed to. As a result, sweatshirt fleece is less breathable than french terry fabric and does not have moisture-wicking properties. The inside of a sweatshirt made with sweatshirt fleece is more dense and will keep you warmer than a french terry sweatshirt.

When should french terry be worn?

French terry is a highly versatile fabric, so it can be worn in many different situations. Although french terry fabric is not commonly used in athletic apparel, comfortable clothing made with french terry makes a great coverup to wear over your workout clothes when you’re on your way to workout, or to keep you warm after a tough day at the gym. French terry fabric is used in everything from sweatpants to pullovers, hoodies, and shorts, so it’s likely that you have at least one article of clothing made of french terry in your closet right now. French terry is mostly used in casual clothing and is not likely to be used in more formal pieces, so it is best worn for casual purposes like running errands, relaxing, or on the way to and from the gym.

Will french terry keep you warm?

French terry fabric will keep you warm, but it’s more accurate to say that french terry fabric will keep you warmer than some other fabrics, such as the material used in most t-shirts, while also keeping you cooler than others, such as sweatshirt fleece. Therefore, the choice to wear french terry fabric depends largely on the person and the weather, as everyone has different preferred temperatures. For example, in cool weather that is not cold, the average person will be more comfortable in french terry than sweatshirt fleece. However, if you are a person who is always cold or frequently feels a chill in the air when others don’t, sweatshirt fleece might be more appropriate. On the other hand, if you’re more likely to sweat even in cool weather or while sleeping, french terry might be the better choice for you. In general, french terry will keep you cool in warmer temperatures and warm in cooler temperatures, but it is a midweight fabric that is not generally appropriate for extreme ends of the temperature spectrum. 

Does french terry wrinkle?

One of the best things about french terry fabric is that it’s extremely easy to maintain. The fabric does not wrinkle easily thanks to its natural stretch and the fact that it is a knit fabric. In some situations, french terry will wrinkle (such as leaving it balled up in your suitcase for a week), but for the most part, the material will stay wrinkle free with minimal effort. If you do notice wrinkles in your french terry clothing, simply pop it in the dryer for a few minutes, and you’ll be able to quickly resolve the issue.

How should french terry be cleaned?

French terry fabric is one of the lowest-maintenance fabrics that there is, so you don’t need to worry about taking it to the dry cleaners, hand washing, or following special washing instructions. French terry fabric can be washed in the washing machine, which helps to release odors. When made entirely from cotton, french terry releases odors especially quickly when washed in the washing machine, which keeps your clothes smelling fresher than synthetic materials, which often hold on to odors. French terry is best maintained and cleaned when it is washed in a washing machine in cold water and then tumbled dry at a low temperature. 




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