December 21, 2021
Chunky knitwear: labelling advice for woollen clothes and accessories
By: Peter Gregory
December 21, 2021
By: Peter Gregory
There’s nothing more comforting in the dead of winter than a cosy bit of knitwear! Whether you’re creating scarves, sweaters, hats or gloves, the labelling requirements for wool are slightly more challenging than they are with a regular fabric.
In this guide, we’ll explain the challenges of labelling knitwear. We’ll show you the best way to secure a label to a knitted garment, and reveal why specialist labels like jacron and metal are such a popular choice on wool.
Whether you’re working in a loose crochet style or producing chunky knitwear, you’ll find that yarn-knit wool behaves in a totally different way to woven materials like tweed and silk. This means that — with knitted garments — you have to adjust your labelling techniques to match the material.
The ‘threads’ of a knitted garment tend to be much thicker, and the ‘stitch’ is often a lot looser than it would be on a standard fabric. This means that you can’t really use a self-adhesive or iron-on label: the organic yarn fibres will move around too much for your label to hold fast over time. You also can’t border-stitch through both sides of a woollen item without ruining the look and feel … especially on a chunky knit.
The texture of a knitted item can cause problems, too. Woven textiles like cotton will usually lie flat when you spread them out. They won’t stretch or bend too much, and you can usually stitch or iron on your label however you see fit. Knitwear, on the other hand, is completely made up of knits and purls. The fabric is full of bumps, dips and gaps. This can create its own problems when you’re trying to neatly stitch your label.
First off, you should always choose the right label fold to match the stitch of the knitted garment. For instance, if you create a winter hat with a loose, gappy crochet stitch, then that ‘fabric’ is going to have a lot of natural stretch and flex in it. An each-end fold woven label could stop the hat from expanding evenly; it could cause the hat to warp and bunch if the wearer has a big head. A better option might be a mitre-fold label, which can expand and contract a lot more, or a small loop fold label sewn directly into the yarn on a part of the hat that won’t warp too much (learn more about label folds on our guide).
Second, you need to pick a suitable thread to fix the label to the product. You want a thread thickness that complements the thickness of the wool yarn without clashing against the label itself. You also don’t want to distract from the beauty of the knitwear itself. A lot of knitwear producers will attach their labels with folded-in ends to hide the thread. If you can pick a thread colour that matches the wool, even better!
Third, you need to decide how deep your needle will go. This is a balancing act: the most secure way to stitch on a label is to push the needle all the way through the knitted piece and back through from the other side (just as you would with a woven material), but this can look messy if you’re not using a backing material. An alternative method is to stitch directly into the knits and purls of your project so that your thread goes right though the heart of each strand of yarn. This can damage and split the wool if you’re not careful, so you need to use your judgement. Experiment with a few different stitches and see what works best for your project.
Last but not least, you should pick your label location carefully. With most clothing projects, the label can just be attached in a fairly standard position (see our guide to label placements). With knitwear, the normal placements may not work, depending on how the garment moves and flexes when you wear it.
You can go for a standard woven label on your woollen project (just take a look at our instagram for some gorgeous examples), or you can achieve an amazing look with a specialist label. We recommend three different specialist label types for knitwear:
Metal labels look great on wool! There’s something about the contrast between the smooth, engineered solidity of metal and the more organic, fluffy untamed texture of wool. When you combine the two, you’ll find that your finished product feels more solid and professional … even if you knit the whole thing by hand yourself. Another benefit of metal labels is that they come with the stitching holes pre-stamped, which can make the stitching process go much faster. Learn more on our metal labels page.
Rubber (Silicone) Labels
If you’re looking for a tactile, three-dimensional label without the rigidity of metal, then a rubber label could be perfect. Rubber labels can be packed with detail and colour, making them perfect for stand-out branding. You can learn all about silicone labels on our guide.
Jacron is great if you want to evoke a rustic tone while still keeping a slim profile. Slightly bulkier than a woven label, jacron has a lovely paper-leather feel that grounds a garment and makes it feel wholesome and practical. Jacron is most commonly seen on denim jeans, but it works well on tight-knit blankets and hats, too. Learn more on our jacron labels page.
Did you know that ‘Pure Wool’ is a legally protected term? If you want to label a product as ‘100% wool’, or ‘Pure wool’ then there are certain rules you need to follow if you want to sell that product in the UK or the EU. Learn more about fibre content labelling in our recent ‘Clothing Labels And The Law’ article (see link here).
Thanks for reading!