- FABRICS IN GENERAL
- FABRICS IN MORE DETAIL
- MAN MADE FIBRE'S
FABRICS IN GENERAL
When talking about fabrics, there are two main types. Fabrics made from: 1. Natural Fibres 2. Man Made Fibres These can be produced in various forms e.g. 100% natural, 100% man –made (Or synthetic) or a blend of the two.
1. Fabrics Made From Natural Fibres
These fabrics are made from fibres that are found in nature e.g. Cotton, Linen, Wool etc. The main advantages of natural fibres are that they are absorbent, usually making them more comfortable to wear as the fibres breathe.
Natural fibres are often perceived as being more superior quality than synthetic fibres and can cost more to produce. Garments made of natural fibres can therefore usually demand a higher price. Natural fibres do tend to crease more than synthetic fibres, and are therefore often blended with a synthetic fibre to create a more crease resistant cloth.
2. Fabrics made from Man-Made Fibres
These fabrics are used producing using chemical elements or compounds, their fibres cannot be found in nature. The main benefits of synthetic fabrics is as follows:
It's usually more crease resistant than natural fabrics
It retains its shape well
It's often more durable and stronger than natural fabrics
It's often cheaper
Blending a synthetic fibre with a natural one can improve the durability and strength of a fabric. It can make for easier care e.g. Better crease resistance, and may also reduce the cost compared to a 100% natural fabric.
FABRICS IN MORE DETAIL
Cotton is a natural cellulose fibre, obtained by a shrub.
A strong to very strong fibre, it’s strength increases when wet.
Cotton is inelastic. This is responsible for the wrinkling and the creasing of cotton garments.
This inelasticity also prevents fibres from returning to their original position, sometimes resulting in 'bagginess'.
Cotton has good moisture absorbency, so is a comfortable fibre to wear.
Cotton garments are dry cleanable and machine washable.
Linen is obtained from the flax plant, and therefore is a natural cellulose fibre.
Flax is a very strong fibre. It’s strength increases when wet.
The inelasticity of flax is responsible for the wrinkling of linen fabrics (i.e. Fibres don’t spring back into shape). When wet, flax becomes even more inelastic and wrinkles more readily, a point to be watched during laundering.
Ramie comes from a plant with very similar qualities to the flax plant from which linen is produced. Ramie has a very similar appearance to that of linen, however it's a much coarser and stiffer fibre.Therefore ramie is usually found in heavier, stiffer types of clothes while linen can be produced in softer and drapier fabrics. Ramie is dry cleanable.
Wool is obtained from the fleece of a sheep therefore is a natural protein fibre.
Each fibre of wool is ‘crimped.' The finer the fibre the more crimps per centimetre. The crimp of the fibres is largely responsible for the warmth of woollen articles.
The prickle of wool is caused by fibre ends pressing against the skin. Finer wool fibres with a thinner cross-section have less of a prickle effect.
Wool is a weak fibre, becoming weaker when wet and more easily distorted, so wash and dry with care.
The elasticity of wool is very good, therefore woollen garments have good wrinkle recovery.
Wool is the most absorbent fibre in common use. Because of it’s excellent absorbency, woollen articles dry slowly.
Wool is a poor conductor of heat and a good insulator so is regarded as a warm fibre. It is best ironed slightly damp with a press cloth to more readily remove wrinkles. (The press cloth will also help avoid shining the fabric)
Silk is produced by the silk moth larvae (or silk worm), therefore is classified as a natural protein fibre.
Handle of silk is smooth to very smooth.
Silk is a strong fibre but looses strength when wet, so must be laundered delicately.
Only wash in cold or warm water as higher temperatures will yellow or dull silk garments.
Silk garments are dry cleanable.
MAN MADE FIBRES
The raw materials from which polyester is made are manufactured, therefore polyester is classified as a man-made fibre. The materials used to make polyester are obtained from by-products of petrol manufacturing.
Polyester is a strong to very strong fibre. When wet fibres do not alter in strength.
The elasticity of polyester fibres is good therefore making it very wrinkle resistant.
Polyester may be regarded as non-absorbent, so is not considered a comfortable fibre to wear in warm weather. Its non-absorbency also causes static electricity to develop.
Polyester is a poor conductor of heat, so garments may be hot and clammy to wear.
Polyester is dry cleanable.
Nylon (or Polyamide)
The raw materials from which nylon is manufactured are man-made, so nylon is classified as a man-made synthetic fibre. Nylon is obtained by-products of coal gas manufacture.
Nylon is a strong to very strong fibre. When wet nylon loses strength.
The elasticity of nylon is very good so has good wrinkle recovery. (Although some lighter weight nylon fabrics may still have a tendency to wrinkle)
Nylon is not very absorbent so is essentially an uncomfortable fibre to wear, it is however quick drying.
Like polyester, nylon is a poor conductor of heat so garments may be hot and clammy to wear.
Nylon is dry cleanable.
Viscose is defined as a man-made, regenerated cellulose fibre. That is, the raw material used for the manufacture of viscose is cellulose. ( i.e. the raw material is from a plant, but the fibre itself is man-made.) During the manufacturing process, the cellulose is chemically modified into a liquid form, and then reformed into a fibre.
Viscose has a fair strength but loses strength when wet, so care must be taken in laundering. Severe wringing should be avoided.
Viscose generally has a smooth, lustrous handle and quite good drape.
Viscose fibres are inelastic which accounts for it readily wrinkling, especially when wet. It is a very absorbent fibre making it comfortable to wear.
Viscose is dry cleanable.
NB: Viscose is also known as rayon. In Australia the correct name for this fibre is Viscose.