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The Main Fabrics Used for Sewing in the Textile Industry
What are Main Types of Fabrics?
There are many types of fabrics used in the textile and fashion industry today, where we will be explaining the main types of fabrics used in clothing and what we should know about each one before purchasing fabric online. Most fabrics are made from three common threads: animal hair, natural crops, or synthetic fibers. The types of textiles mentioned in this articles are the fabrics you are likely to buy. The types of fabrics are going to be broken down into two categories Summer & Winter Textiles.
Cotton is one of the most widely used materials in the world and its production is found across the globe. Cotton is one of the most sustainable textiles in the market today and it is highly absorbent to moisture. Cotton is a natural fiber that grows on a plant and its manufacturing process is quite lengthy. In summary, cotton is picked from the plant, filtered on a screen, placed through a dispenser, treated, spun, and then twisted into fiber like yarn. Afterwards the cotton is processed into threads which consequently are woven into a gentle fabric.
The properties of cotton vary depending on its grade and its percentage of cotton. Cotton fabrics tend to shrink with time due to the relaxation of its fibers. Therefore many garments or clothing made from cotton become smaller after trying it on the first time. It is advisable to purchase slightly larger clothing if it is made from cotton, to account for this slight shrinkage in size. It is highly recommend to place fabric made with cotton in a warm water bath overnight, to reduce the overall shrinkage effect of the cotton material before sewing.
Linen is a natural fiber made from flax plants that are grown across the globe. We are seeing a large interest and demand for linen due to its natural feel and its ability to retain some moisture. Linen has also gained a large audience due to its cool course texture and usage in the fashion industry. The process to extract linen may require several treatment processes. In summary, flax is spun into thin fibers that are spun into yarn that are then interwoven into a fabric. Linen fabrics with a higher GSM (grams per square meter) tend to be more expensive.
Linen is a special type of fabric that tends to crease easily due to the composition of the flax fibers. Special care must be taken when wearing or cleaning linen as it requires high heat to iron smoothly. We have seen countless linen suppliers blend cotton and other textiles into linen fabrics, which reduces the overall quality of the linen. Linen is considered a sustainable fabric that is priced higher than other fabrics. Many sewing enthusiasts suggest checking the fabric composition or linen content prior to buying the fabric online.
Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is made from petroleum based products. Polyester is made from a group of polymers that originate from plastics. Polyester does not decompose meaning it will last for a long period of time without decaying. Polyester is made by heating liquid plastic into thin threads. Afterwards the threads are stretched and torn into thin fibers that are brushed into a sheet, which consequently is threaded into strings on a loom. Lastly, the threads are brushed and treated into polyester fabric.
Polyester fabrics tend to not crease with time and absorbs a lot of heat, which is why synthetic fibers cause you to sweat a lot in the heat. However a lot of clothing today contains polyester due to its economical pricing and its ability to be altered to different fabric compositions. There are many types of polyester types with different compositions
Bamboo, Rayon, & Viscose
Bamboo, rayon, and viscose are made from natural wood pulp fibers. All three types of fabrics are occasionally interchanged between one another, since the process to make them originates from one source. Bamboo is the most common plant that found in all three fabrics and is a highly sustainable plant. Bamboo grows mainly in the Asian regions of the globe and the manufacturing process involves intensive chemical treatment which is why the textiles is not considered ecofriendly.
Many experts consider the three fabrics classes as semi-synthetic because of the process to produce them and the occasional inclusion of synthetic fibers with the fabric structure. The fabric Lyocell which also belongs to this category of fabrics is made from bamboo, which has a natural soft feel that makes it lucrative for natural clothing. Rayon is widely known to be combined with synthetic fibers making it an economical option for clothing. All three fabrics are relatively new to the textile industry and are made from cellulose fibers.
Wool is a textile that originates from animal fur such as sheep, goat, camel, rabbit, alpaca, etc. Sheep wool or fur is one of the most common types of wool fabrics used in today’s textile industry. The simplified process starts by shearing the sheep fur off the animal, treating the animal fur based on its desired properties, and then spinning the wool into thin threads before being woven into fabric. Wool is a natural fiber that has great insulating properties, which makes it suitable for the cold winters.
Woolen fabrics are delicate textiles that require proper care when cleaning, which is why most woolen fabrics require dry cleaning. Dry cleaning is a process which involves a special machine that chemically washes a piece of clothing or fabric without using water. We often find that many suppliers and producers of woolen fabrics may add non-woolen material such as polyester with its composition. The addition of polyester to the fabric structure makes the textiles lighter and enhances its durability.
Alpaca is a special type of wool that originates from alpaca fur, not to be confused with llama, which is a similar mammal but with courser threads. Alpaca is known to have very thin threads that come from the Huacaya or Suri alpaca, typically found in South America in countries such as Peru. Alpaca has excellent thermal properties for insulation and its stress resistance make it an ideal fabric for clothing. Alpaca fabric is a magnificent textiles that has a soft texture and keeps you incredibly warm in the cold winters.
Cashmere is a type of wool obtained from goats and is considered a luxurious type of fabric. Cashmere has superb insulating properties to retain warmth and sometimes has a tendency to not crease easily. Cashmere is usually combined with sheep wool to give it a smooth and soft feel. Cashmere a special type of wool that requires not only proper cleaning but adequate storage. It is highly recommended to place cashmere clothing into plastic sleeves or in cabinets with natural moth repellents.
One aspect to focus on for woolen products is the weight. Most woolen fabrics are classified by its weight class in GSM, which stands for grams per square meter. The higher GSM relates to a dense fabric (300-400 GSM) while a lower GSM is typically associated with lighter fabrics (200-300 GSM). We can also infer that denser fabrics are likely more applicable to colder weathers. Cashmere fabrics tend to be quite light and have very fine threads. A word to the wise, the term SUPER followed by a number differs from one supplier to another.
September 1, 2022