Whether flatbed, circular or Raschel, knit fabrics promote flexibility and suppleness while providing ample room for a variety of aesthetic approaches. Printed, embroidered and jacquard knit decors lend themselves to embellishment via a wide variety of sophisticated techniques answering the dual desire for fantasy and comfort.
Printed knit decors
The print processes used for knits and wovens are quite similar. Engineered motifs and all-over designs are created using silk-screen, rotary or digital printing processes. To ensure a high-quality result on jerseys, interlocks and fleeces, special attention is paid to the positioning and preparation of the ground. Knits move and are often stretchy, if they are not laid perfectly, creases will appear and cause defects to appear. A knit that is stretched too much or too little during the printing process will alter the uniformity of the design.
The depth of the colors, the precision of the line, the subtlety of each nuance are the result of selecting the right printing technology for the right material. Each printer has the know-how to evaluate which process to use according to the nature of the design and the selected print ground.
As with printing, this particular ornamental process also has to take into account the flexibility of the ground. But realizing a flawless design featuring embroidery involves some additional constraints. Placing the design in a uniform manner requires a special dexterity, because the foundation of the decoration is not laid flat, but rather placed vertically in front of the embroidery machine.
Often the knit is appliquéd to a fabric which is dissolved after the embroidering, which makes it possible to control the tension of the textile and affix it to the machine. This temporary assembly also eliminates the problem of blistering, makes it easier for the needles to penetrate the material and protects it from unraveling.
To withstand the perforation, interlocks like a tricot stitch are often favored, especially for fine qualities incorporating elastane. However, some specialists are able to embroider thicker flatbed or circular knits.
Jacquard knit techniques
Unlike printing or embroider, which apply a design to a support, in the jacquard process, the decoration derives from structure of the textile itself. The patterns emerge through the use of contrasting colors, opposing textures, an interplay of thicknesses or varying opacities.
Jacquard techniques are as widely varied as knits themselves. Flatbed, circular or jacquardtronic, single or double bed, fine or coarse gauges, each will provide a different result and cover the entire range of potential uses, from coat weights to lingerie knits.
Jacquardtronic falls into the “tricot stitch” category, and make it possible to develop weft knitted fabrics known as interlocks. Lace knits are created using this kind of machine. The motif is created by contrasting more or less open stitches, and the weft yarns lend a full or partly opaque look to the knit
In circular knits, jacquard patterns are created from different types of knit structures, in jersey, double jersey, quilted knit, openwork, terry and velvet knit. The number of possible colors, the size and spacing of the motifs, depend on the type of machine used and the knitting technique.
In flatbed knits, the jacquard categories are the same as for circular knits. One of the specificities of designs for sweater knits lies in the relationship between the placement of the pattern and the final shape of garment. Single-bed intarsia, for example, makes it possible to contrast large blocks of color without creating any additional thickness.
Whatever the knit technique, the tightness of the knit, the tension and elasticity of the yarns impact the proportion of the design. To obtain a result that is faithful to the original motif, this technical information is taken into account in the programming stage. In jacquard knits, a great number of parameters are taken into account in elaborating the design and offer extensive development possibilities.
In every discipline, an alliance between technical mastery and creative talent makes it possible to propose new styles, and develop personal and innovative expressions. In the fashion industry, this alliance is mainly the result of meetings, collaborations and partnerships.
To increase your understanding of the diverse possibilities for original developments, we are proposing a series of articles dedicated to our industry’s know-how, which you can follow throughout the year.