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How to tell ply's

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
can someone tell me the difference between 2-ply 3-ply and 4-ply, not sure if there is a 1-ply or not. Also how do you tell. Someone mentioned that certain barbersuitsa are only 3 ply and the top line is 4-ply and i also see it mentioned in shirts as being 2-ply. SO how do you tell and what do all the number mean?
post #2 of 27
Easy, but it requires good hand-to-eye coordination.  4 ply means that when cloth is being woven, 2 fibers, width-wise, are woven with 2 more fibers, length-wise (Thus, 2x2 or 4 ply).  Such cloth is generally a good starting point for quality cloth as it shows the manufacturer went to the effort and expense to work with 4 fibers.  This basic formula applies to other "ply" cloth; 3 ply means 2 fibers woven with 1 fiber, etc..  The way you determine what kind of cloth you're dealing with is to literally take a small piece of the cloth and start separating the fibers with your forefinger and thumb.  If it's 4 ply, you'll be able to untwist or unravel two fibers in width and two fibers in length.  If you can't unravel any of the fibers, that means there ain't more than one.  Honorable, respected cloth purveyors will be accurate in denoting the quaity and construction of the cloth they're marketing; other less scrupulous firms will fudge it and charge steep prices for less than stellar cloth, an effective method for maximizing profits.  As has been discussed elsewhere, cloth that's less than 4 ply is not necessarily junk, it's just not as strong and resilient as 4 ply, resulting in a greater likelihood of wrinkling and crumpling due to fewer fibers.  For the budget-minded, 3 ply can still be a viable option, especially if it's "worsted" wool.  Worsting is a process that results in a smooth, strong cloth.  It's made with the longer fibers found in the back of the sheep and undergoes a more elaborate weaving process, in which the long fibers literally lined up against one another in parallel fashion, resulting in the smoother surface.  "Woolens", which are the woolier, fuzzier kind of cloth (tweeds, etc) are made with mixed lengths of fibers that are not arranged in parallel, resulting in the woolier "hand" (feel).  A bit of trivia for you Jeopardy fans: "Worsted" is named after the small town in England, Worstead, where the worsting process was invented.  And, this is your textile lesson for the day.  You are now men of the cloth. Grayson
post #3 of 27
So 2 ply means (1 x 1)? Then what about 1 ply? Most of shirts do not mention ply, but some shirts say 2 ply. If 2 ply is the min ply we can have, then is this even worth mentioning it? Or they put it on labels because it sounds cool?
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
How would you tell on say a finished suit or shirt?
post #5 of 27
MilanoStyle, You normally hear shirts denoted as "2 ply" or "1 ply." When you hear "2 ply" that mean that it is at least a 2x1 ply. Shirting manufacturers conveniently leave out the x, thinking that 2 ply is descriptive enough when in fact it is not. If you go the WW Chan website, you'll see that they note that their fabrics are 2x2 ply. They'd still call their shirst "2 ply" if you asked, and then would tell that it is "2 by 2 ply." a one ply shirt will be 1x1 ply. So, in short, in woolens most people will add up the total plys (2x2 = 4 ply), whereas in shirts they will use the largest ply (2x1 = 2 ply; 2x2 = 2 ply). If you are concerned about whether your cottons are 2x1 or 2x2, ask for more detail.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
How would you tell on say a finished suit or shirt?
If you take a magnifying glass, you can sometimes see the twisted threads, though this will probably not work on a tight weave. Your best way of knowing is probably the retail price.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
4 ply means that when cloth is being woven, 2 fibers, width-wise, are woven with 2 more fibers, length-wise (Thus, 2x2 or 4 ply).
Incorrect.  "Ply" refers only to individual yarns.  One fiber per yarn = one-ply.  Two = two-ply.  2x2 means that both warp (up & down) and weft (sideways) threads are two-ply.  4-ply would mean that each yarn is made of four fibers twisted together.  No mill that I know of makes 4-ply yarns, either for shirtings or suitings.  In any case, no one simply multiplies warp by weft to divine the ply-number.  That is, again, solely a function of how many individual threads are twisted to produce a single yarn.
Quote:
Such cloth is generally a good starting point for quality cloth as it shows the manufacturer went to the effort and expense to work with 4 fibers.
No, it is much better than a "good starting point".  The best shirtings and suitings are 2x2 -- top of the line.
post #8 of 27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisapop,Mar. 22 2005,11:22
4 ply means that when cloth is being woven, 2 fibers, width-wise, are woven with 2 more fibers, length-wise (Thus, 2x2 or 4 ply).
Incorrect.  "Ply" refers only to individual yarns.  One fiber per yarn = one-ply.  Two = two-ply.  2x2 means that both warp (up & down) and weft (sideways) threads are two-ply.  4-ply would mean that each yarn is made of four fibers twisted together.  No mill that I know of makes 4-ply yarns, either for shirtings or suitings.  In any case, no one simply multiplies warp by weft to divine the ply-number.  That is, again, solely a function of how many individual threads are twisted to produce a single yarn.
Quote:
Such cloth is generally a good starting point for quality cloth as it shows the manufacturer went to the effort and expense to work with 4 fibers.
No, it is much better than a "good starting point".  The best shirtings and suitings are 2x2 -- top of the line.
Oh, Cutter.  Your first post and already so combative. Lisapop used a typical shorthand of 4 ply/3 ply instead of going through the 2x2, 2x1 drill. Shorthand -- nothing more. And Lisapop was not insinuating that there is something better than 2x2 cloth. By "starting point" he meant that having a 2x2 ply construction is a necessary condition of top quality, but not sufficient (other conditions being quality of the wool, quality of the dye, quality of the finish).
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Oh, Cutter.  Your first post and already so combative.
No combat. Just the facts.
post #10 of 27
This is rather an esoteric issue, however several firms, in fact, offer 2x2 cloth, such as Lesser, Smith, Holland & Sherry, and I know because I have taken the cloth apart myself.  In fact. I've been able to untwist 2x2 cloth from H&S that is even *8 oz.*  We'll just have to agree to disagree but I know what I know from personal experience. Grayson PS, from H&S literature... AIRESCO 4 PLY LUXURY PURE WOOL WORSTED BY HOLLAND & SHERRY SAVILE ROW LONDON
post #11 of 27
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We'll just have to agree to disagree
Agree to disagree on what? Where did I say that 2x2 wool, in any weight, does not exist?
post #12 of 27
Quote:
AIRESCO 4 PLY LUXURY PURE WOOL WORSTED BY HOLLAND & SHERRY SAVILE ROW LONDON
H&S is being misleading.  There are no 4-ply yarns in that cloth.  That is arguably more misleading than what shirtmakers do when they sell 2x1 shirts as "two-ply."  At least those shirts do have some two-ply yarn in them.
post #13 of 27
I have to agree with cutter here. I believe lisapop's definitions are somewhat confuscated, though understandably so. Consult any textile dictionary or respected fabric source, and you'll see that cutter's definition is accurate. "Ply" by definition is a yarn that is intertwined with another. 2-ply is a yarn that has two yarns intertwined with one another, resulting in greater tensile strength, durability, more volume in some cases, more girth, and a better hand, depending on the fiber. I have heard of some cashmeres being 3 or 4 ply, vs. 2-ply or what some refer to as "single ply," which really just means single yarns of cashmere. Also, lisapop's definition of worsted is a little off. "Worsting" refers to the high twists given to wool yarns in the spinning process, again resulting in greater tensile strength (most trouser and suiting wools are given an average of 25-30 twists per...inch?), a smoother hand, better resilience, more compact weaves, higher definition in patterns, and so forth. Worsted, hard milled fabrics are very, very smooth. Her trivia bit about worsted is one of the more respected hypotheses. The other is that William the Conquerer discovered the process used in this little hamlet, and felt that this fabric had "worsted" all competitors. Total speculation, of course. Sorry; don't mean in any way to be offensive or arrogant. Just trying to be as accurate as possible for the sake of clarity in understanding why certain processes are done. lisapop's mention of parallel fibers applies more to the combing of fibers, which gives them a smoothness, and also eliminates shorter "noil" ("not over an inch in length) fibers. This is more often used in terms of combed vs. carded cotton, combed being the superior choice for such things as chinos, denim, shirts, etc. Again, let me reiterate that I'm not trying in any way to denigrate lisapop's wonderful enthusiasm for textile information. We should all have such interest.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
H&S is being misleading. There are no 4-ply yarns in that cloth.
Well, considering the Holland & Sherry 4 ply Airesco cloth was marketed 5 years ago, and is no longer in their collection, I trust you still have a sample of that cloth with which to have made your assessment. I'm confident H&S would want to consult with you and tap into your vast expertise so as to avoid any further "misleading" cloth classifications. Grayson
post #15 of 27
Two excellent sources of information are the Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (published by KoSa, which is now part of DuPont Industries: http://www.amazon.com/exec....s=books and Understanding Textiles (Prentice Hall: http://www.amazon.com/exec....=507846 ). To be fair to lisapop, the definitions offered of worsted are a combination of what lisapop and I both put forth. Well, it's a science, and I'll be the first to admit science ain't my strongpoint. Sorry for any confusion.
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