Skip to Content

What Is Tricot Fabric?

I recently purchased a couple of yards of tricot fabric. I’ve never used this particular material before, but it was so soft and stretchy, I thought I’d give it a try. The only thing is, I’m not sure what to do with it. What can you use a tricot fabric for? What is tricot fabric?

Tricot fabric is a knit material that is woven on a flatbed knitting machine. The tricot weave creates a zigzag effect on the front of the fabric and a crosswise rib on the back. Smooth, soft, and stretchy, it can be made from both synthetic and natural fibers. Main uses for tricot include swimsuits, activewear, and linings.

Read on to find out more about tricot fabric and what you can use it for. This article will cover the advantages and best uses of this versatile material.

What Is Tricot Fabric

What Is Tricot Fabric?

Tricot is the name of a specific warp-based fabric. It comes from the French verb, ‘Tricoter’, which means knitting. Pronounced “tree-coat”, or “tree-co” to be closer to its French origins, this fabric is a unique knit material. The reason it stands out from other knits is that it isn’t knitted in the same way.

Kira Matte Tricot Skin Glow Nude, Fabric by the YardWhile most knit fabrics are made on round or circular knitting machines, tricot is woven on a flatbed knitting machine. Being warp-based means the warp, or lengthways threads, are dominant. They are formed into loops and interwoven with weft threads in different ratios to create a lengthways rib pattern on the fabric front and a crosswise rib on the back.

This is what gives the material its individual texture and durability. It’s also why a tricot fabric is easier to work with than any other knit. With the stability and firmness of woven fabric and the stretch of a knit, the textile has the best of both worlds.

Properties of a tricot textile are determined by the fiber content. Their characteristics can include heat-retention, water-absorption, quick-drying, antibacterial, and form-fitting. Whatever the fiber content, all tricot materials are run-resistant.

Is Tricot Fabric Synthetic or Natural Fiber?

As the name tricot refers to the weave rather than the fiber it’s made from, you can find it in synthetic and natural fiber options. Synthetic versions tend to be more stretchy and are used in swimwear or sportswear.

Due to the higher versatility of synthetic material, you’ll usually find tricot fabric made from nylon and spandex or polyester and spandex. There may be a small percentage of natural fiber like cotton in some, but the fully synthetic variety is the most popular.

As tricot is woven rather than knitted, it isn’t naturally stretchy. To achieve the 2-way or even 4-way stretch for activewear and some lingerie, the addition of spandex is essential.

How Is Tricot Fabric Made?

108'' 40 Denier Tricot Turquoise, Fabric by the YardTricot fabric is a soft, durable knit. It’s made from knitting warp and weft threads together on a flatbed knitting machine. The machine is similar to a loom, so rather than being knitted, tricot is woven.

In a tricot textile, the warp thread is the focus of the fabric and dominates the pattern. Each needle on the flatbed knitting machine forms a loop within its own thread. It’s like a series of slip knots all on one strand. The knitting machine has several needles, all creating strands with parallel slip knots.

These slip knots are then moved sideways from one needle to another in a zigzag motion. They interlock with the knots on other strands to knit the fabric together. It’s this zigzag that gives tricot material its unique texture and feel.

There are three different pattern types for tricot fabric. They are called Denby, Cord, and Atlas. Each one is a variation of the slip knots on one strand pattern. The distance between each knot and the length of the zigzag form different patterns within the fabric.

Structure, texture, and the feel of the material can change with each different tricot knit pattern. The one thing that stays the same, though, is the similarity between all tricot fabrics. There will be a zigzag ribbed effect running up and down the fabric on the front. A crosswise rib will be evident on the back.

What Are the Advantages of Tricot Fabric

Tricot fabrics are sturdy and durable and have many of the same properties of a woven fabric. Including a greater resistance to static cling and a fabric that is easier to work with than other knits. Let’s take a look at the advantages of tricot fabric in detail.

A Woven-Knit Fabric

Mystic Hologram Lame Tricot Rose Gold, Fabric by the YardAll knits have a certain amount of stretch. This is down to the way the fabric is constructed. A knit material like a jersey knit is looser and less stiff than a woven. Garments made from jersey tend to be less structured and need fewer fastenings. The material gives enough to allow you to get in and out without the need for zippers or buttons. It’s one of the benefits of a knit fabric.

Being stretchy and loosely put together can make knit fabrics a pain to work with. The inbuilt stretch can be problematic. Knit textiles are notorious for moving around and stretching out of shape when you sew.

Tricot isn’t like that. It’s knitted on a flatbed knitting machine which acts in a similar way to a loom. Instead of being knitted like jersey fabric, the yarns are woven together.

The material is warp-based, which gives a level of rigidity to the fabric not found in other knits. This gives a tighter construction and added stability. While still keeping the inherent stretch and movement found in a regular knit, tricot behaves like a woven fabric. Not only does this make tricot easier to work with, but it also gives the fabric the capability to retain its shape.

Care and Maintenance

Caring for a garment made from a tricot fabric is simple. Tricot won’t stretch in the wash. It’s wrinkle and crease-resistant and incredibly quick-drying. So quick, you don’t need to use a dryer. Leave it to air dry and it will be ready to wear the next day.

One of the best things about tricot is its shape-retaining properties. It’s a wash-and-go fabric designed for a fast-paced, active lifestyle. Unlike other knits, there are fewer things to worry about when caring for a tricot fabric.

As the fabric is run-resistant, you don’t have to worry about a loose thread getting caught on the zipper from another garment and unraveling. Tricot is a lot more durable and robust than a regular knit fabric.

Comfort and Breathability

Unlike many synthetic materials, a tricot fabric is breathable even when it’s made from nylon or polyester! The structure and construction of a knit fabric is inherently porous. The little gaps created between the threads allow for air and moisture to escape.

This makes a tricot garment comfortable and cooling in hot weather. It helps prevent you from feeling clammy, sticky, and miserable. Better still, the unique weave of a tricot knit fabric stops it from clinging to you as the temperature rises.

A tricot fabric has incredible drape, far superior to any other knit fabric. Coupled with the addition of spandex, the built-in stretch of tricot can be enhanced to a 4-way stretch. Offering free movement yet still maintaining a sturdy structure for support, tricot is an all-around miracle fabric with a comfort factor off the scale.

What Are the Disadvantages of Tricot Fabric?

Most fabrics will have some disadvantages. Tricot’s bad points can vary depending on the fiber the fabric contains. As a tricot knit can be made from synthetic and natural fibers, the downsides can span the full spectrum of issues faced by different textiles.

A tricot knit tends to be synthetic-based, though. So let’s take a look at the main disadvantages faced by synthetic tricot textiles.

UV Resistance and Sun Damage

The level of UV resistance you can get from a tricot fabric is a little higher than other knit fabrics. However, even though it is more tightly woven, the protection offered will be low compared to other woven fabrics.

As a knit material, it has holes, so it will allow some UV rays to infiltrate through to your skin. Tricot made from either a nylon-spandex or polyester-spandex in a heavy denier will offer better protection than a lightweight option.

Nylon degrades in sunlight in a relatively short timeframe. This can reduce the UV protection offered by your tricot garment. It also means you will need to replace your clothing regularly, preferably as soon as you see signs of damage such as color fading.

Different Weights and Fiber Content

One of the main things to watch for with tricot fabric is that it can be made from synthetic and natural fibers. The type of fiber will make a difference to the amount of stretch fabric has and the amount of opaqueness.

The problem is, it’s not always apparent which tricot option you are dealing with. Especially in cheaper, low-quality materials. A budget-friendly fabric may be great for your pocket, but if it’s a see-through tricot, your sportswear may show off more than your sporting prowess.

Pay particular attention to the label when purchasing tricot fabric to make sure the fiber content will match what you want to make. You don’t want a cotton-based tricot if you are making a swimsuit. Similarly, a swimsuit-grade tricot isn’t going to make a great lining fabric.

Resilience to Everyday Wear

This one is a bit bitter-sweet. Although tricot knit fabrics are durable and run-resistant, they can be damaged easier than you think.

The problem is the run resistance. While it’s great to not have to worry about a snag or pull in the fabric turning into an unsightly ladder-style hole, not worrying about it can lead you to miss the early signs of damage.

Tricot may not run the same as many other knits, but it can snag easily. It’s still a knit, after all, and those pesky fibers can still catch on the slightest little thing. Like a buckle or a zipper pull, or even the rivets on your jeans. Instead of runs, you could end up with lots of tiny pulls in the fabric.

Always be careful what you wash your tricot garment with. Keep clear of any garment with fastenings or embellishments. That way, you can keep your tricot safe from snags.

Heat Intolerance

Caring for tricot may be a lot easier than with other knits, but there is a downside. You do have to take care when it comes to heat.

As a tricot knit is usually made from either a nylon-spandex or polyester-spandex blend, it’s a synthetic material. Like all synthetics, heat can be a big problem for tricot. Too high a temperature in your washing machine can cause the fabric to melt.

It’s not just the wash you have to be careful with when it comes to heat. A polyester-based tricot fabric not only melts but also burns easily. This can make the humble family stove or electric heater a nightmare. Heat is not a friend to polyester in any form, so keep away from heat sources while you’re wearing it.

Using a dryer can also be a little problematic, especially if you forget and leave the dryer on a high setting. The best way to dry a tricot fabric is naturally. Air dry outside away from direct sunlight to reduce the risk of heart damage.

What Is Tricot Fabric Used For?

Tricot comes in different weights, known as the denier of the fabric. Ranging from very light and sheer fabrics to the heavier 40 denier options, this knit fabric can be used for many projects.

Some deniers will offer more stretch, others will offer more opaqueness. Each one will offer the same durability and comfort. So what can you use a tricot knit fabric for? Let’s take a look at the most popular uses.

Lingerie

Shadowline Women's Silhouette Nylon Tricot Hi-Low Gown 35737 3X NavyProbably one of the more famous uses of tricot fabric is lingerie.

The term lingerie covers everything from your underwear to sleepwear. So you’ll find 40 denier tricot fabric in panties, slips, nightgowns, and camisoles.

Even the lighter 15 or 20 denier weights get a look in with lingerie.

This weight can be used for light-dressing gowns like peignoirs. Or a sexy, sheer negligee.

Sportswear

adidas Women's Standard Essentials 3-Stripes Tricot Joggers, Black/White, SmallTricot is incredibly comfortable and ideal for use in activewear or sportswear. Especially in the 4-way stretch options. Not only that, but the inbuilt breathability of the knit fabric will help keep you cool while you burn off your calories.

From sports bras to yoga pants, a tricot weave will give you freedom of movement and the flexibility to engage in any sporting activity. You’ll be able to perform the most strenuous of workouts without feeling restricted by your clothing.

Swimwear

American Apparel Women's Standard Nylon Tricot High-Cut Sleeveless One-Piece, Black, MediumTo be effective, swimwear needs to be close-fitting and durable enough to withstand regular dips in the pool. Tricot fabric is both stretchy and soft and the perfect choice for swimsuits.

With an amazing capacity to bounce back to its original shape, your swimwear will stay looking fresh and free from sagging. There’s nothing worse than a stretched-out swimsuit which is why tricot is so popular for this activity. Particularly when the tricot is a nylon-spandex blend.

You get the incredible recovery of the tricot knit with the UV protection and chlorine resistance of the synthetic fibers it contains. It’s a perfect combination.

Outerwear

As tricot is the name of a fabric weave rather than fiber, it can be made from any material. Or even a blend of different fibers. Because of this, the products it can be used for are almost never-ending. It may have started as a lingerie material, but these days you’re just as likely to find tricot pants and jackets.

The elasticity and softness of a tricot textile make a pair of pants extremely comfortable. Full of flexibility and smooth to the touch, tricot pants and jackets are a delight to wear all day. Particularly when you’re out on a hike.

Lining

A lesser-known use of tricot is as a lining for luggage and bags. This version tends to be less stretchy than the tricot used for sports apparel. Durable and long-lasting, the fabric will keep the inside of your luggage looking smart. It will also protect your clothing from being damaged from the case at the same time.

How Much Is Tricot Fabric per Yard

The price per yard varies depending on the fiber content and denier of the tricot fabric. The average cost ranges from around $7 to $13 per yard.

You’ll find fabric quality and the retail outlet you purchase it from will make a difference to the amount you pay. So too will the manufacturer. You can expect to pay more for a well-known brand name.

Conclusion

Tricot fabric is a woven knit with incredible stretch and recovery. Its ability to bounce back and keep its original shape makes it one of the most versatile fabrics in the world.

Let me know in the comments if you liked this article. Have you worked with a tricot textile? Did you find it easy to sew?