Does Fabric Manufacturing Affect FR Clothing Protection?

Tyndale FR knit fabrics

Did you know the way your garments are manufactured, down to the fiber and how the fabric is constructed, can play a role in its ability to protect you? However, protection is just one of four attributes we have identified that customers use to select their FR clothing. The other qualities include: comfort, fit and durability. In this post, we will explore fabric construction and its role in garment protection.

Weave Construction

Woven fabrics are made by using two or more sets of yarn interlaced at right angles to each other. Woven fabrics can easily be cut into different shapes and are excellent for producing different styles of garments. Traditional woven fabrics have been constructed in a plain weave (top left) or 3×1 twill configuration (top right). Tyndale FR weave fabrics

Twill is a type of textile weave with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. This is done by passing the weft thread over one or more warp threads and then under two or more warp threads, with a step or offset between rows to create the diagonal pattern.

Denim is the most popular example of a twill weave (1). To see how FR jeans compare to non-FR jeans in arc flash testing, take a look at our video here.

Sateen is a fabric made of a satin weave structure with cotton yarns instead of silk. As the image above (bottom right) shows, warp yarns are floated over weft yarns, for example four over and one under. Long floats produce a smooth surface to the touch and take advantage of the “double plate” construction – saving as much as an ounce of weight for comparable protection.

Companies like Milliken and Mount Vernon Mills manufacture sateen fabrics. In general terms, the double plate construction traps air in between the two layers of yarns which increases the fabric’s arc rating and thus provides the wearer greater protection.

Knit Construction

Knitted fabrics are basically constructed using a series of loops. There are different types of knits, and the most common for flame resistant fabrics are either a jersey or interlock knit.

The interlock knit style (seen in image at the top left of this post) essentially parallels the “double plate” construction of the sateen weave described above. This type of construction traps air between the two layers providing more insulation from an electric arc.

Achieving a similar result with a different approach, by producing a “tight jersey,” fabric manufacturers have been successful in increasing protection per ounce, and reducing shrinkage. By making a knit’s loops tighter, less energy can pass through the fabric when it’s exposed to an electric arc.

As we explored in our previous post on carbon fiber and FR clothing, advancements in technology are pushing protection of FR garments to a new level. Not only does fiber and fabric play a role in comfort, fit and durability, but also, most importantly, in a garment’s ability to protect you, the wearer. The more you know about the FR clothing you are wearing, the more informed you will be about each garment’s unique qualities.

Click here to access our FR Library for information on Tyndale’s fabric manufacturers.

References for this post were accessed December 2013:


  1. alan says:

    there is a show on hbo tv about fire retardant clothing causing cancer for fire fighters and other people who wear these items. pretty scary considering we wear this stuff up to 16 hours a day and gate to gate

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