Weft knitted fabric production

Weft knitted fabrics may be approximately divided into single or double jersey ('double-knit') according to whether they were knitted with one or two sets of needles. It may be preferable to include some of these fabrics in separate groupings of underwear and speciality fabrics. Pelerine eyelet, sinker wheel mesh structures, and float plated fabrics are mainly used for underwear whilst high pile and plush fabrics are speciality fabrics. Many of the jacquard structures have already been described (Chapter 10).

Most weft knitted fabric in continuous lengths is knitted on large-diameter, multifeeder, latch needle machines and is slit into open width during finishing. The emphasis is on productive efficiency and quality-control in the manufacture, finishing, and conversion of fabric into articles of apparel or other end-usages. This tends to encourage the establishment of large units with long production runs.

In post-knitting handling operations, the fabric must be maintained in as relaxed and tension-free a state as possible, in order to reduce the problems caused by dimensional distortion and shrinkage. Apart from scouring, bleaching, dyeing, and printing, the finishing process offers a wide range of techniques for modifying the properties of the knitted structure including heat setting, stentering, decating [1], raising [2], cropping, pleating [3] and laminating.

In the cutting room, the lengths of fabric are layed-up, many ply thicknesses deep, onto long cutting tables using a traversing carriage to transport and lay the fabric. Cutting-out techniques vary widely, from marked lays whose outlines are followed by hand-guided cutting knives, to press cutter blades shaped to the outline of the garment part, and cutting blades guided by a computerised programme.

In making-up weft knitted fabric, the lockstitch seam (Type 301) is not as suitable as it is for woven fabrics because it lacks extensibility. For jerseywear, the extensible double-locked chainstitch (Type 401) is useful. However, in the making-up of knitwear, the three-thread overlock (Type 504) is popular because, as well as being extensible, it securely binds the cut edges of the fabric after neatly trimming them.

For comfort in underwear and lingerie, a flat-butted seam secured by a flat seam such as the five-thread flatlock (Type 605) is generally preferred [4-6].

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