Updated on September 17, 2022 by Sarina
In textile parlance, ‘Durable’ refers to something that stands the test of time after a lot of wear and washes. We all want our clothes to last through repeated wear (and washing, drying and ironing). Being strong can be considered synonymous to durable as strong fibers result in durability.
It makes sense, economy wise as well as eco-friendly wise to buy the most durable and strongest fabric – long lasting translates to less buying of new clothes (or does it?). Anyways, for some applications, like outdoor clothes and heavy weight carrying bags, you have no choice but to buy stronger, longer lasting materials.
But it can be hard to know which fabrics will stand the test of time, given the options available in each category of fabrics.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the most durable fabrics, so that you can make informed choices when shopping for your next project. Whether you’re looking for a material that will last you a lifetime or just a few seasons, this list can be a good starting point.
Fabrics that last – the most durable of them all
A tightly woven made of hard twisted warp and weft cotton yarn. It is used for making sails, tents, awnings, and other outdoor gear. Duck canvas is also often used for making bags and other items that need to be durable. Lighter-weight duck canvas can be used to make heavy use clothes like work-wear pants and jackets.
Twill weave fabrics
(Denim, cotton drill, cavalry twill, and chino)
Twill weave fabrics are characterized by a diagonal weaving patterns called “wales that is created by the interlacing of the warp and weft threads. The twill weave is one of the strongest of the basic weaves. Thicker and heavier twill weave fabrics are used for making outdoor clothes and accessories. Twill weave fabrics are also used for making work clothing and upholstery that calls for a high level of durability.
Twill weave fabrics can be made from a variety of different fibers, including cotton, linen, wool, and silk. The type of fiber used will affect the properties of the fabric, such as its weight, breathability, and resistance to creasing. But even the thinnest of twill fabric will be more durable and stronger than fabrics made in other weaves.
The most common of the twill weave fabrics is denim, which is made using blue warp and white weft threads. The diagonal ribbing of the twill weave gives denim its characteristic strength and durability, making it the perfect fabric for jeans and other hard-wearing garments.
Other twill fabrics which are very durable are cotton drill, cavalry twill and chino – all of them are used to make work clothes that will see a lot of wear.
Ballistic nylon is a sturdy, abrasion-resistant thick nylon fabric made of high-strength nylon fibers. It was originally developed by Dupont company as a material for flak jackets and other protective gear but is now used for a variety of applications, including making luggage, backpacks, and laptop cases that can carry a heavy load and will last long.
Wool is made from the hair of sheep and other animals and is known for its warmth, as well as strength, and long-lasting quality. Woven Woollen fabrics have always been a popular choice from long back because of the durability of the fiber. These fabrics are usually dense and durable.
Out of the many types of wool fabrics, some stand the test of time more than others. High-quality wool fibers makes the strongest wool fabrics. The conditions of sheep breeding can have a great influence on the strength of the wool fibers. Read more on buying best quality wool here.
Wool Gabardine is considered a superior fabric in terms of strength as well as fineness. It has a tight twill weave, and the best gabardine may be made of two-ply worsted yarns. Tweed fabric is considered very strong and durable, especially whipcord tweed.
How to maintain wool so that it will last
Wool is a strong and durable fabric resistant to a lot of damaging things, but it can be susceptible to moth damage. To protect your wool garments, keep them clean and stored in a cool, dry place. You will need to put mothballs in the storage area to keep the moths away
You must have heard of the shroud of Turin – it is a linen fabric rumored to be the burial garment of Jesus Christ that has been preserved through centuries. You do not need another proof as to the staying power of linen.
Linen fabric is made from the fibers of the flax plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region. Linen fabric is strong and durable, and it gets softer with each wash without losing its qualities. It is also absorbent and dries quickly. Linen fabric is often used for clothing that is meant to be worn in hot, humid weather because it helps keep the body cool. Linen fabric is also used for home furnishings, such as curtains, tablecloths, and towels. It has a natural, elegant look that can be dressed up or down.
With proper care, linen fabric can last for many years
Read more on Linen fabric here.
Corduroy is generally considered a durable fabric, but among the different types of corduroy, one with a twill weave is regarded as the most strong and most durable. They are favorites for making sports jackets, cargo pants, and other outdoor clothes because of their strength and long-lasting quality.
Khaki fabric is a type of thick and hard-wearing cloth typically made from cotton or linen. It is often used to make heavy-use clothes, such as pants, shirts, and jackets. Khaki fabric is also sometimes used to make bags, curtains, and other household items. It is even used to make police uniforms in some countries and you know how much wear and tear an officer’s uniform undergoes.
Fabrics with a Durable finish/coating
A durable finish is meant to make the fabric resistant to wear and tear in washing and wearing. Hand builders/coatings are added to the surface of the fabric to make it stiff and also to make it sturdy. These finishes may be added to make the fabrics longer lasting.
Snag Resistant fabrics
Snagging happens when the fabric is rubbed against other surfaces and the thread with which it is made comes out, weakening the fabric. Avoiding snagging is a way to get longer-lasting clothes. If you can buy clothes which are already treated to be snag resistant, you have the most durable fabric out there.
Some Heavy weight fabrics
The weight of the fabric is referred to as the weight of the fabric per square yard of fabric. Being heavyweight does not necessarily translate to durability. But generally, a lot of heavy-weight fabrics may be considered durable if the fabric is made in such a way that it is dense/tightly woven. Fabric heavier than 10 ounces per linear yard is considered heavyweight.
You may have a perception of silk as a delicate fine fabric which is to be handled delicately. But silk is a protein fiber and quite strong. Infact spider silk is considered the most strongest and durable fabric out there. According to this article Spider silk is 5 times more stronger than steel.
Some tips to care for fabrics so that they will last longer
The key to keeping clothes for a long time and in the best condition is to avoid over-washing and to spot-clean when necessary.
Turn clothes good side inside to prevent snagging anf other damage. When laundering, wash in cold water on the delicate cycle and air dry or tumble dry on low heat. Use a mild detergent and avoid bleach, if possible. And avoid over stuffing clothes in one wash cycle.
Brush off any dirt or debris that accumulates on the surface of the fabric. This is a good way of cleaning clothes without overwashing. Spot clean stains with a wet cloth and mild detergent. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as this can damage the fabric. Store all of your fabrics in a cool, dry place.
Avoid putting fabrics in the full dryer.
Use appropriate settings to iron and avoid burning or scalding of fibers to prevent them from weakening. You can use a pressing cloth to avoid damaging the fabric from the direct application of heat. To remove wrinkles, a simple way is to hang your clothes and steam them with a hand-held steamer.
Sewing constructions that give durability to clothes
Reinforced stitching like bar tack stitches. Taped seams with tape attached over the seam to prevent ripping open of seams (The seam area will be weak because of the repeated insertion of needles).
Read more about the different ways to make a strong rip proof seam here