Terrycloth is a type of pile fabric which is famous for its softness and high absorbency. It is often used for towels and bathrobes, and it may be utilized to make athletic warmups and other accessories. Many department stores carry items made from terrycloth, and it is also possible to purchase this fabric by the yard for the purpose of making custom towels, robes, and other objects. Many sewing suppliers carry terrycloth, and it can also be ordered online or directly from manufacturers.
This fabric can be produced through weaving or knitting, with weaving being common for commercially produced terrycloth. In either case, the fabric is characterized by thick, uncut loops which form a soft pile on one or both sides of the fabric. The loops increase the absorbency of the fabric by making more surface area available, and they also tend to make the fabric more heavy, as more thread is required to make the material.
Cotton is a material of choice for terrycloth, since it is highly absorbent and easy to work with. It is also possible to use bamboo or linen, along with artificial fibers which have been designed for absorbency. The level of softness will be determined by the fiber used, and the color can easily be adjusted with dyes. Terrycloth can also be patterned by printing or using multicolored thread, and it can be decoratively embroidered as well.
Industrially, terrycloth is made on a dobby loom, a specialized loom which allows for greater control of the tension of the threads. People can also knit or weave it by hand, using several different techniques, although handmade terrycloth is time consuming to make. Industrial methods of manufacture have been in use since the mid-1800s, which is around the time that this specialized fabric began to achieve widespread popularity.
One of the big problems with terrycloth is that if the loops become caught in something and tear out, they can tear a whole line of loops with them, causing the fabric to become thin and structurally unstable. The fabric can also become ragged with torn ends if it is not cared for properly. The loops are also subject to uneven wear, which can made the fabric stiff or threadbare in some places and perfectly plush in others. Regularly rotating terrycloth products so that they do not see sustained heavy use is a good idea, as is following the care directions on their labels to ensure that the fabric stays in good condition.