Cotton is a material that we couldn’t live without as it makes up so much of our summer wardrobe and other fabric items. We often look out for organic cotton fabric to be more natural and environmental when sewing. Or, we lookout for high-end brushed cotton good for a nicer feel and a bit of luxury. Slub cotton is on the opposite end of the scale in terms of feel and quality. Yet, it has become popular in clothing and garment-making. So, what is slub knit cotton, why is it so popular, and are there any downsides in choosing it for your next sewing project?
Slub is one of those almost onomatopoeic words that fit the idea of a rougher and more organic material. Slub basically means a thick area in a strand of yarn caused by poor spinning. We see this in cotton spun by hand or where there has been a fault with a machine. Rather than discard the yarn, we can make the most of slub cotton for some attractive and quirky shirts.
Does Slub Knit Come from a Mistake in the Yarn?
Not necessarily, there would have been a time where the imperfections seen in this cotton yarn came from errors in hand-spun materials. The little bobble and raised areas may have been more common from this organic process. As machine spinning became more prevalent and effective, imperfections would have decreased to create the common cotton yarn we all use today. However, a recent desire for this imperfect look means a need to go back to imperfections in a more deliberate way. The slub knit in the shirt you love may, therefore, be down to deliberate processes rather than the use of inferior quality yarn.
Why is Slub Knit so Popular for Cotton Shirts?
One of the main reasons that this textile is so popular is that there is a more natural look to the finished garment. The knobbles and imperfection create a texture that seems more organic and authentic than something made on a machine. This is great for all those that want to celebrate the natural material of the cotton. There is a tactile quality to slub knit garments too that makes them interesting. But, they still have the breathability and lightweight necessary for a summer shirt.
Is There Also Slub Knit Wool?
The popular slub knit tees tend to be cotton. But, the nature of slub yarn means that you can get the same effect in different fibers. Therefore, you could also get slub wool where there are thicker areas of fiber deliberately added to the yarn. The visual impact and texture aren’t the same as in cotton, but it is still an interesting natural material.
What are the Pros and Cons of Choosing a Slub Knit Tee?
If you are interested in searching for some new slub knit tees online, it is worthwhile considering the following pros and cons.
1) It looks really interesting and is a bit of a conversation starter
2) The looks are enhanced when dyed
3) There is less need for ironing because of the imperfect texture
4) Brands are beginning to get behind the trend
1) These shirts may not be as durable because of the fibers used
2) They may also be more prone to shrinking
3) They can feel a little stiffer than other cotton shirts
4) You may have to pay a bit more for this fashionable choice
Are the Properties of the Material Worth it for the Fun Look?
Starting with those benefits, there is no doubt that a good slub knit cotton tee can look brilliant both on a hanger and on the body. There is a natural look that is great for those that don’t like mass-produced items. It is also sure to attract attention as people ask what you are wearing. When you have a piece of material that is dyed, that visual interest increases. The different areas of yarn take on the dyes in different ways to accentuate the imperfections. This is worth keeping in mind if you ever want to work with slub knit yourself.
A bonus here is the upkeep of the garment in terms of ironing. Standard cotton is prone to creasing and needs a good iron if not hung to air dry in time. There is less of an issue here because of the naturally knobbled texture and “roughness” of a slub knit garment. Unfortunately though, those properties in the fabric also mean that the fibers are less stable. So, they could be more at risk of shrinking if you wash or dry them at too high a temperature. Thinner areas may also be less durable and liable to wear down.
There are also some mixed views on the feel of slub knit clothing. There is a universal appreciation for the lightness and breathability of a soft form-fitting tee. The better quality the cotton, the softer it can feel on the skin. Here, some find there is a rougher feel where it may get more scratchy in places. It is still breathable though and just as light.
It is no surprise that brands want to add slub knit tees to their range when you consider the interesting aesthetic appeal and the fashionable side to the material. Standard cotton just isn’t a big deal anymore, but this will at least get some clicks on a product page. As more brands get on board, you should find some interesting products for sale. However, be prepared to pay a higher price for the privilege compared to standard cotton.
Can You Create Your Own Garments with Slub Cotton?
Yes, you can absolutely create your own slub knit tees and other garments at home. There are different options available if you want to knit with it or get a piece of slub knit cotton material to work with. You can browse suppliers online or maybe find a local outlet that has slub in stock. Make sure that it is true slub knit to get the effect you want and then make sure you have the length and pattern necessary for your project.
Sewing with Slub Knit Cotton Material
If you want to sew your own tees with slub cotton, you should be able to find some material to work with. Make sure that you have a good pattern too if you aren’t experienced with shirt making as this material is a little different. Be aware that slub cotton doesn’t behave the same way as normal cotton. You can find yourself going against the grain, dealing with thicker areas while stitching, and being careful around some of the thinner areas. But, as long as you are careful and patient, you should be fine.
Part of the fun of making your own clothes with slub knit cotton is that you can dye them fun colors. You can find a natural, undyed material for a good price and get a cotton-friendly dye in a bold color. Work through the manufacturer’s instructions, being careful not to damage the material in hot water or with any rough movement in the water. You should end up with a nice mix of tones that make the most of the texture. This simple process may be more effective than trying to work in tie-dye.
Can You Buy Slub Yarn?
If you don’t want to start sewing items on a machine and prefer to knit, you could always get some slub yarn. This might not be as easy to find as some standard cotton yarn. But, a good product lets you create some great knits as you get to know the material better. Make sure that it is 100% cotton, preferably organic, with a good weight to it. If you want to go for a natural color this again offers the chance for dying finished pieces. Also, check the length of the ball of yarn and how many you get in a pack.
Be aware that knitting with slub yarn isn’t easy. The imperfections and feel of the material mean that it is easier to miss a stitch here and there. Perfectionists or inexperienced sewers could find this a bit frustrating. But, those that like a challenge and that can embrace the mistakes could end up with something unique. Those that use slub fairly regularly recommend using garter, moss, or rib stitches for the best result. They are easier and show up nicely in the material.
Is Slub Knit the Right Material for You?
There are sure to be people reading this that hate the idea of such a rough and imperfect material for the summer and others that are intrigued to give it a try. There are flaws in slub knit to watch out for, but that doesn’t mean that can’t create some attractive and comfortable items of clothing. Take a look at slub cotton yarn or slub knit fabric and see if it inspires you to knit, sew, and dye something a little different.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my kids however, that is typically a challenge with how limited their attention span can be and how messy it gets. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and creating fond memory for all of us.