Fabrics and their uses

There are a lot of different fabrics that are available for use. These fabrics make up the clothes we wear, the curtains or bed sheets in our house, and a number of other things. Each fabric has different properties, and qualities, which we will look at in this post.

Before we delve into the fabrics and their uses, we have to break them down by the fibres used to create these fabrics. The three major groups of fibers are:

  • Protein fibres
  • Cellulose fibres
  • Synthetics

Fabrics made from protein and/or cellulose fibres

Protein fibers are derived from animals, while cellulose fibres derive from cellulose, a starch-like carbohydrate. Both fibres are used for a number of different fabrics, most of which would be familiar to you. We list the fabrics made from protein fibres below.

Cashmere – Cashmere is a luxury wool fabric that is made from goats, usually Cashmere goats found in Asian countries as well as pashmina. Well known for its incredibly soft feel and the insulation that it provides, cashmere is used in luxury sweaters, shawls, coats, and dresses. Cashmere is made up of fine interwoven fibres and is warmer than normal wool. It is common to find cashmere being mixed with other fabrics in order to give it more weight and strength.

Cotton – Cotton is a well known fabric and it is made from differing lengths of fibres which makes it a staple fiber. Derived from the natural fibers of cotton plants, cotton is a soft, breathable and fluffy making it an extremely versatile fabric being found in t-shirts, bed sheets, towels etc. The actual term cotton refers to the part of the cotton plant that grows in the boil, the encasing for the fluffy cotton fibers. Cotton is spun into a yarn that is woven to create the fabric.

Leather – Leather is made from animal hides or skins. There are various types of leathers made from different types of animals and different treatment techniques. Leather is most commonly made from cows animal skin, but any animal’s skin can be made into leather. Leather is incredibly durable. It is a wrinkle-resistant fabric, and it can take on many different looks and feels. As a result, it can be used for coats, shoes, belts and other heavy duty clothing.

Linen – Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. It is very strong, highly absorbent, and the fabric dries faster than cotton. As a result, it is commonly used for towels, tablecloths, napkins, and bedsheets. You will also find that linen is also used for the inner layer of jackets, because of its qualities. The name “lining” comes from linen. A lot of summer clothing is made from linen, because the fabric is highly breathable letting air into the clothing.

Wool – Wool is usually made from the fleece of a sheep or lamb, but can come from a variety of other animal hair fibres. These include cashmere and pashmina goats.  Wool is excellent at trapping heat which is why it is used in sweaters. It is usually coarse and requires spinning short fibers into a longer yarn, so it can be very uncomfortable (some varieties of wool, like merino, are much thinner and softer than generic wool, and are thus more comfortable). 

Silk – Silk is by far the strongest natural textile in the world. Other than being strong, it is soft and shiny to look at making it ideal for luxury items such as scarves, handkerchiefs etc. It is extruded in one continuous thread by silkworms.

Fabrics made from synthetic fibres

Synthetics are produced from chemical synthesis. These are often substituted in clothing for natural fibers and generally of lower quality. Synthetics are, however, generally resistant to pests and are generally cheaper to manufacture than natural fibers which is why they are so commonly used.

Polyester – Polyester is a man-made synthetic fiber created from petrochemicals, like coal and petroleum. Polyester fabric is characterized by its durable nature; however it is not breathable and doesn’t absorb liquids, like sweat, well. Polyester blends are also very popular as the durable fiber can add strength to another fabric, while the other fabric makes polyester more breathable.

Spandex – Spandex is also known as Lycra or elastane, Spandex is a synthetic fiber characterized by its extreme elasticity. Spandex is blended with several types of fibers to add stretch and is used for everything from jeans to athleisure to hosiery.

Viscose – Viscose is a semi-synthetic type of rayon fabric made from wood pulp that is used as a silk substitute, as it has a similar drape and smooth feel to the luxury material. It is a silk-like fabric and is appealing because it is much cheaper to produce. Viscose is a versatile fabric used for clothing items such as blouses, dresses, and jackets, and around the home in carpets and upholstery.

We are going to continue writing about more fabrics:

Coming soon

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