Gabardine fabric, renowned for its durability and versatility, has been a staple in the world of textiles for centuries.
With its tight twill weave and ability to resist wrinkles and water, gabardine is commonly used in the production of suits, overcoats, and other tailored garments, offering a timeless and refined aesthetic.
What Is Gabardine?
Gabardine is a tightly woven fabric known for its durability and firmness. It features a twill weave and is commonly used in tailoring, particularly for suits and overcoats.
The fabric can be made from various materials such as worsted wool, cotton, silk, or blends.
Gabardine has a long history and has been used for garments since the 15th century. It gained prominence when Thomas Burberry, the founder of Burberry, revived and patented it as a fabric in 1888.
The fabric’s strength and ability to repel water when treated with lanolin made it suitable for protective clothing that required resistance to the elements.
Notably, the gabardine was worn by Ernest Shackleton during his successful expedition crossing Antarctica in 1914.
However, George Mallory, who wore a gabardine jacket during his ill-fated attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1924, did not fare as well.
Gabardine remains a popular choice for tailored garments due to its strength, twill weave, and lighter texture compared to Whipcord.
What Is the Origin of Gabardine Fabric?
Gabardine fabric has its origin in the late 19th century, specifically in 1879, when it was developed by Thomas Burberry, the founder of the Burberry fashion house.
Burberry created gabardine in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Gabardine is a tightly woven, durable, and weather-resistant fabric that is typically made from worsted wool or cotton.
It is known for its smooth, twill weave, which gives it a diagonal ribbing pattern. Originally designed for practical outerwear, the gabardine’s popularity grew due to its resistance to wind and rain. Today, it is used in a variety of garments, including trench coats, suits, and trousers.
Types Gabardine Fabric
Combed Wool Gabardine
- Raw Material Selection: High-quality wool fibers are carefully selected for the production of combed wool gabardine. These fibers undergo rigorous testing to ensure their suitability for weaving.
- Combing: The selected wool fibers go through a combing process to align the fibers and remove any impurities or shorter fibers. This helps create a smooth and uniform yarn.
- Spinning: The combed wool fibers are spun into yarn, which involves twisting the fibers together to form a continuous strand.
- Weaving: The yarn is then woven using a twill weave pattern, which gives gabardine its characteristic diagonal lines. The tight weaving creates a durable and firm fabric.
- Finishing: After weaving, the fabric undergoes various finishing processes, such as washing, steaming, and pressing. These processes enhance the fabric’s texture, appearance, and overall quality.
- Cotton Selection: High-quality cotton fibers are chosen for the production of cotton gabardine. The cotton may be sourced from different regions known for their cotton cultivation.
- Carding: The selected cotton fibers undergo a carding process, where they are cleaned, aligned, and blended to create a consistent and uniform fiber mass.
- Spinning: The carded cotton fibers are spun into yarn, similar to the process used for combed wool gabardine.
- Weaving: The cotton yarn is woven into fabric using a twill weave pattern, just like in the case of combed wool gabardine. The tight weaving structure gives cotton gabardine its strength and durability.
- Finishing: Similar to combed wool gabardine, cotton gabardine also goes through various finishing processes to improve its texture, appearance, and performance. These processes may include washing, dyeing, and treating the fabric to enhance its properties, such as water repellency.
Both combed wool gabardine and cotton gabardine undergo similar weaving and finishing processes, but the choice of raw materials (wool or cotton) and the specific treatment of the fabric can result in variations in texture, weight, and performance.
Gabardine Fabric Characteristics
Gabardine fabric is characterized by several distinctive features that make it a popular choice in the realm of textiles:
Gabardine is woven tightly, which contributes to its durability and strength. The tight weave creates a firm and sturdy fabric that can withstand regular wear and tear.
The tight weave and strong fibers used in gabardine make it highly resistant to abrasion and damage. It can endure rough handling and is less prone to pilling or fraying, ensuring that garments made from gabardine can withstand prolonged use.
Gabardine fabric has inherent water-resistant properties, making it suitable for protection against light rain or moisture.
It has the ability to repel water, thanks to its tight weave and the use of treatments or coatings to enhance its water-repellent capabilities.
Gabardine is known for its long-lasting nature. Its strength and resistance to wear and tear contribute to its durability, making it a fabric that can withstand repeated use and retain its quality over time.
Timeless and Versatile
Gabardine is considered a timeless fabric that transcends fashion trends. Its classic appearance and versatility make it suitable for various garment types, from tailored suits and trousers to overcoats and outerwear.
Due to its durability and longevity, gabardine is often viewed as a sustainable choice. Investing in garments made from gabardine can reduce the need for frequent replacements, thereby reducing overall consumption and waste.
What Is Gabardine Made Of?
Raw Material Selection
Depending on the desired type of gabardine, the appropriate raw material is selected. For worsted wool gabardine, high-quality wool fibers are chosen.
For cotton gabardine, quality cotton fibers are selected. Silk gabardine uses silk fibers, and mixed gabardine blends different types of fibers.
The selected fibers undergo processing to prepare them for spinning. This may involve cleaning, combing, and aligning the fibers to remove impurities and ensure uniformity.
The prepared fibers are spun into yarn. This process involves twisting the fibers together to form continuous strands of yarn. The spinning process can vary depending on the type of fiber being used.
The yarn is then woven into the fabric using a twill weave pattern. The twill weave creates the characteristic diagonal lines or ridges seen on gabardine. The tight weaving structure of gabardine contributes to its strength and durability.
After weaving, the fabric goes through various finishing processes to enhance its properties and appearance.
This may include washing, steaming, and pressing to improve the texture, drape, and overall quality of the fabric.
Depending on the intended use and desired characteristics of the gabardine fabric, additional treatments may be applied.
For example, to make the fabric water-resistant, a coating or treatment may be added. This is particularly common in outerwear gabardine garments.
By following these steps, gabardine fabric is created using the selected raw material, spinning it into yarn, weaving it with a twill pattern, and applying the necessary finishing processes.
The specific choice of material and treatments can result in variations in the texture, weight, and performance of the gabardine fabric.
What Is Gabardine Fabric Used For?
Gabardine is a favored fabric for tailored suits. Its tight weave and firm texture give suits a polished and refined appearance, making it suitable for both formal and professional settings.
The durability of gabardine makes it an ideal choice for overcoats. The fabric provides warmth and protection from the elements while maintaining a sleek and structured look.
Gabardine trousers are popular due to their ability to resist wear and maintain their shape. The fabric’s resilience makes it suitable for both formal and casual trousers.
Gabardine has been historically used for military and uniformed personnel garments. Its durability and ability to retain its shape even with frequent use make it suitable for uniforms that require longevity and a polished appearance.
Windbreakers and Outerwear
The tightly woven nature of gabardine fabric helps it resist wind and provides some level of water resistance.
This makes it suitable for windbreakers, jackets, and other outerwear garments that require protection from the elements.
Gabardine fabric can be utilized for a variety of other garments, such as skirts, dresses, blazers, and vests. Its versatility allows for creative designs while ensuring durability and a refined look.
Is Gabardine Good for Summer?
Cotton gabardine, with its natural fibers, allows air circulation and promotes breathability. It can help keep you cool and comfortable in hot and humid weather by allowing sweat and heat to evaporate from the skin.
Cotton fibers have excellent moisture absorption properties, which can help wick away sweat and keep you feeling dry. This can be particularly beneficial during hot summer days.
Gabardine, regardless of the season, is known for its durability. Cotton gabardine is sturdy and can withstand regular wear, making it a long-lasting option for summer garments.
Depending on the tightness of the weave and weight of the fabric, gabardine can be adapted to different seasons.
Lighter-weight cotton gabardine can be used for summer garments, allowing for breathability while still maintaining the fabric’s durability.
When considering gabardine for summer, it’s essential to look for garments made from cotton gabardine and choose lighter weights and looser weaves to ensure maximum comfort in hot weather.
It’s also worth noting that other lightweight and breathable fabrics, such as linen and lightweight cotton, are commonly preferred for summer wear.
Is Gabardine Waterproof?
Gabardine fabric, in its standard form, is not inherently waterproof. However, it has natural water-resistant properties due to its tight weave and the use of certain treatments or coatings.
The tight twill weave of gabardine creates a dense and compact fabric structure that offers some level of water repellency.
The diagonal ridges formed by the twill weave help water droplets slide off the fabric rather than penetrate it immediately.
To enhance the water-resistant capabilities of gabardine, additional treatments or coatings can be applied.
These treatments may include the use of waterproofing agents or coatings that create a barrier on the fabric’s surface, preventing water from seeping through.
It’s important to note that the level of water resistance in gabardine can vary depending on the specific fabric, its treatment, and the quality of the finish.
Over time and with repeated wear, the water-resistant properties of gabardine may diminish, and reapplication of treatments may be necessary to maintain its water-repellency.
While gabardine can provide some protection against light rain or moisture, it is not designed to withstand heavy downpours or prolonged exposure to water.
In such cases, additional waterproof outer layers or specialized rainwear may be more suitable.
Is Gabardine Expensive?
Gabardine fabric can be considered relatively expensive compared to other commonly used fabrics. There are several factors that contribute to its higher cost:
The weaving process for gabardine involves a tight weave and specific twill pattern, which requires precision and expertise.
This intricate weaving process can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive, resulting in higher production costs.
High-quality materials, such as fine wool or premium cotton, are often used in the production of gabardine fabric.
The use of superior fibers contributes to its durability, appearance, and overall quality. These premium materials generally come at a higher price point.
Tailoring and Finishing
Gabardine fabric is commonly used in tailored garments, which involve skilled craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail.
The cost of tailoring and finishing can add to the overall expense of garments made from gabardine.
Top-quality gabardine fabrics, known for their delicate and luxurious nature, may have limited availability in the market. This exclusivity can drive up the price due to their higher demand and scarcity.
The delicate nature of high-quality gabardine fabric can make it more challenging to work with and require specialized care during pressing and garment construction.
These factors may contribute to additional costs and increase the overall price of garments made from such fabrics.
Is Gabardine Natural or Synthetic?
Gabardine fabric can be both natural and synthetic, depending on the fibers used in its production. Here is a step-by-step explanation of whether gabardine is natural or synthetic:
The choice of fiber determines whether gabardine fabric is natural or synthetic. Natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, are derived from plants or animals.
Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are chemically created and are not derived from natural sources.
If gabardine is made from natural fibers like cotton or wool, it is considered a natural fabric. Cotton gabardine is woven from cotton fibers, while wool gabardine is woven from wool fibers.
These natural fibers are known for their breathability, comfort, and sustainability.
Alternatively, gabardine can be made from synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon. These fibers are chemically manufactured and do not occur naturally.
Synthetic gabardine may offer different properties like increased durability, wrinkle resistance, and moisture-wicking capabilities.
It’s important to note that gabardine can also be made from a blend of natural and synthetic fibers.
For example, a fabric might combine cotton and polyester fibers to take advantage of the desirable characteristics of both materials.
Does Cotton Gabardine Shrink?
Natural Property of Cotton
Cotton fibers have a tendency to shrink when they come into contact with water and heat. This is because the fibers can contract and tighten, causing the fabric to shrink in size.
To minimize potential shrinkage, manufacturers often pre-shrink the fabric before using it in garment production.
Pre-shrinking involves subjecting the fabric to controlled washing and drying processes to reduce its tendency to shrink further.
Proper care is crucial to prevent or minimize shrinkage in cotton gabardine garments. Following the care instructions provided by the garment manufacturer is essential.
This usually involves dry cleaning, as it avoids exposure to water and high heat that can lead to shrinkage.
If you plan to wash a cotton gabardine garment at home, it’s advisable to test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first.
This will help determine the fabric’s reaction to washing and potential shrinkage before fully laundering the garment.
Given the potential for shrinkage, many people prefer to have cotton gabardine garments professionally dry-cleaned.
Dry cleaning avoids the use of water and minimizes the risk of shrinkage, allowing the garment to maintain its original size and shape.
How Do You Wash Gabardine Fabric?
Washing gabardine fabric requires careful attention to preserve its quality and prevent any potential damage. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash gabardine fabric:
Read the Care Instructions
Before washing any gabardine garment, always check the care label attached to the garment. The care instructions provided by the manufacturer should be followed for the best results.
If there are any localized stains or spots on the gabardine fabric, it’s advisable to spot clean them before proceeding with a full wash.
Use a mild detergent or stain remover and gently dab the affected area with a clean cloth or sponge.
Determine the Washing Method
Most gabardine garments today are made with water and wrinkle-resistant properties. Check the care label to see if the garment is machine washable or if hand washing is recommended.
a. Machine Washing: If the care label permits machine washing, use a gentle cycle and cold water. It’s recommended to turn the garment inside out before placing it in the washing machine to protect the outer surface. Use a mild detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics.
b. Hand Washing: If hand washing is recommended or preferred, fill a basin or sink with cold water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Gently agitate the garment in the water, taking care not to scrub or wring it. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.
After washing, carefully remove excess water from the garment by gently squeezing or rolling it in a clean towel.
Avoid wringing the fabric, as it can distort its shape. Depending on the care instructions, you can either air dry the garment flat or proceed to machine drying.
a. Air Drying: Lay the garment flat on a clean, dry towel or a drying rack, shaping it back to its original form. Keep it away from direct sunlight or heat sources to prevent any potential damage or color fading.
b. Machine Drying: If the care label permits machine drying, use a low heat setting. Remove the garment from the dryer while it is still slightly damp to minimize wrinkles and shape it back to its original form.
To remove any remaining wrinkles, set a warm iron on the lowest setting. Ensure that the garment is completely dry before ironing.
Iron the gabardine fabric on the reverse side or use a pressing cloth to protect the outer surface. Avoid using excessive heat or pressure, as it can damage the fabric.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Gabardine?
Advantages of Gabardine:
- Durability: Gabardine fabric is known for its durability and long-lasting nature. Its tightly woven construction and sturdy fibers contribute to its ability to withstand regular wear and tear, making it suitable for garments that require resilience.
- Water and Wrinkle Resistance: Gabardine, particularly when treated or coated, can exhibit water and wrinkle-resistant properties. The tight weave and finishes applied to the fabric help repel water and minimize creasing, resulting in garments that maintain their appearance even in challenging conditions.
- Versatility: Gabardine fabric is highly versatile and can be used for various garment types. It is commonly employed in the production of suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers, and outerwear. Its adaptability to different styles and designs makes it a preferred choice for tailored clothing.
- Appearance: Gabardine has a smooth, elegant appearance and a slight sheen. Its tightly woven twill pattern creates a distinctive diagonal ribbing effect that adds texture and sophistication to garments.
Disadvantages of Gabardine:
- Cost: Gabardine fabric, particularly high-quality variants, can be relatively expensive compared to other fabrics. The cost is influenced by factors such as the weaving process, quality materials, and tailoring requirements.
- Care and Maintenance: Some gabardine fabrics may require specialized care and maintenance to preserve their properties. Depending on the specific fabric and any additional treatments applied, dry cleaning or specific washing instructions may be recommended, which can add to the overall cost and care considerations.
- Limited Stretch and Breathability: Gabardine fabric, especially when woven tightly, may have limited stretch and breathability. This can affect the comfort and mobility of the wearer, particularly in garments that require a greater range of motion or during warmer weather.
- Prone to Pressing Issues: Pressing gabardine fabric can sometimes be problematic, as it may be susceptible to shiny spots or visible marks if ironed at high temperatures or with excessive pressure. Care must be taken during ironing to ensure the fabric retains its smooth appearance.
Comparison Table Between Gabardine
|Composition||Wool, cotton, or blends||Wool, cotton, or blends||Cotton, wool, or blends|
|Strength||Relatively strong and firm||Strong and durable||Strong and durable|
|Water Resistance||Can be treated to be water-resistant||Not inherently water-resistant||Not inherently water-resistant|
|Wrinkle Resistance||Can be treated to be wrinkle-resistant||Resistant to wrinkles||Resistant to wrinkles|
|Appearance||Smooth with slight sheen||Ribbed texture||Diagonal lines in the weave|
|Breathability||Moderate breathability||Moderate breathability||Moderate breathability|
|Stretch||Limited stretch||Limited stretch||Limited stretch|
|Cost||Relatively expensive||Relatively expensive||Varies based on material|
|Common Uses||Suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms||Trousers, jackets, suits||Apparel, home furnishings|
Please note that the properties and characteristics mentioned above are generalizations and can vary depending on the specific fabric and its manufacturing process.
It’s also important to consider that fabrics within the same category can differ in quality and performance.
Gabardine fabric can be suitable for various climates depending on its composition and construction. Wool gabardine is more commonly used for winter garments due to its natural insulation properties, while cotton gabardine is lighter and more breathable, making it suitable for summer wear. However, the versatility of gabardine allows it to be used in different seasons by selecting appropriate weights and blends.
Gabardine fabric can be dyed effectively due to its tight weave and ability to absorb and retain color. Whether using natural or synthetic dyes, gabardine can achieve vibrant and long-lasting colors. However, the ease of dyeing can vary depending on the specific fiber composition and any treatments applied to the fabric.
Gabardine fabric often requires specific care to maintain its quality and characteristics. While some gabardine garments may be machine washable, others may recommend dry cleaning to prevent shrinkage or damage. Always refer to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure proper care and maintenance.
Gabardine fabric, especially when used in tailored garments, can be altered to a certain extent. However, due to its tightly woven nature, alterations may require the expertise of a skilled tailor. The complexity of alterations will depend on the specific garment and desired modifications.
Gabardine fabric’s durability and water-resistant properties make it suitable for certain outdoor activities. It can provide protection against light rain and wind, making it a popular choice for outerwear. However, for more extreme weather conditions, specialized fabrics with enhanced waterproofing or insulation may be more appropriate.
Gabardine fabric stands as a testament to the enduring qualities of durability, style, and functionality.
Whether it’s the timeless elegance of a tailored suit or the practicality of a water-resistant overcoat, gabardine continues to be a favored choice for those seeking garments that withstand the test of time while exuding sophistication.