Gabardine suit fabric

Gabardine is a tightly woven warp-faced twill weave fabric. Warp-faced fabrics have more warp or lengthwise yarns on the surface of the fabric than filling or crosswise yarns. Twill weave fabrics show a diagonal wale, or raised line, on their surface. The fine wale is closely spaced, slightly raised, distinct, and obvious only on the fabric's face. The wale angle in gabardine is 45 or 63 degrees. Gabardine always has many more warp than filling yarns, often twice as many warp yarns as filling yarns. Fabric weights range from 7 ounces per square yard to 11 ounces per square yard. Fabric density ranges from 76 warp ends per inch (epi) by 48 filling picks per inch (ppi) to 124 epi by 76 ppi. The combination of the weave structure, yarn size, and warp to filling ratio creates the wale angle. A steep (63 degree angle) twill gabardine is often used in men's wear while a regular (45 degree angle) twill gabardine is often used in women's wear. In the most common interlacing patterns the warp crosses two filling yarns before going under one filling (2 × 1) or the warp crosses two fillings before going under two fillings (2 × 2) to create right-hand twills in which the wale line moves from the lower left to the upper right.

Gabardine is a firm and durable fabric with a hard or clear finish. Singeing and shearing remove projecting surface fibers, fuzz, and nap and make the yarn and weave structure visible. Gabardine is available in several fiber types, weights, and qualities. Gabardine is usually made of wool. The best-quality gabardine uses two-ply worsted yarns, but single-worsted yarns, two-ply, and single woolen yarns are also used. Better quality fabrics are soft with a beautiful drape. Lower-quality fabrics are harsh, rough, and stiff. Two-ply worsted yarns, the warp-faced structure, and the fabric's hard finish produce a long-wearing and durable fabric. Gabardine is found in medium (dress) to heavy (suiting) weights in all wools, wool and synthetic blends, and acrylics. Gabardines made of cotton or silk are strong, compact, and elegant, but not very common. Gabardine can also be 100 percent textured polyester or a cotton-polyester blend. Cotton and textured polyester gabardines are usually made with a left-hand 2 × 2 twill weave.

Gabardine has a dull sheen. It is usually piece dyed for solid color fabric. It also may be fiber (stock) dyed for heather fabrics or yarn dyed for stripe or plaid fabrics. Because of its compact structure and hard finish, it sheds soil and water and does not wrinkle easily. It works best with tailored designs that have clean and simple lines or gentle curves because the tight weave makes easing in large quantities of fabric difficult. Gabardine is used for such apparel as slacks, jackets, and suits for men and women, uniforms, skirts, raincoats and all-weather coats, sportswear, riding habits, skiwear, hats, and fabric shoes. Lighter-weight gabardine is used for sportswear and dresses while heavier-weight gabardine is used for slacks and more tailored suits. Excessive wear or overworking when ironing or pressing may produce a shine on the fabric.

Glossary of Technical Terms

2 × 1; 2 × 2:
The number of filling yarns crossed over by the warp is represented by the first digit. The number of filling yarns the warp passes under before returning to cross the filling again is represented by the second digit.
Filling Picks:
Textile industry term for a crosswise yarn in a woven fabric.
Right-Hand Twill:
Twill weave fabrics in which the wale line moves from lower left to upper right.
A raised line visible on the face of the fabric.
Fabric in which the lengthwise (warp) yarns predominate on the surface of the fabric.
Warp Yarns:
Lengthwise yarns in a woven fabric.

An alternate spelling is gaberdine. Gabardine is Spanish or French in origin. In the Middle Ages, gabardine described a loose mantle or cloak of a coarse woven twill.

See also Twill Weave.


Humphries, Mary. Fabric Glossary. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Parker, Julie. All About Wool: A Fabric Dictionary and Swatchbook. Seattle, Wash.: Rain City Publishing, 1996.

Tortora, Phyllis G., and Robert S. Merkel. Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles. 7th ed. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1996.

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