Textile Fibre

Textile Fibre

Basic Knowledge in different fabrics and how to care for them

Cotton is the best fabric for sensitive skin and all skin types because it breathes and minimises body odour.

  • A+ Img

    Some basic threads used in fabrics

    1. Wool from the sheep
    2. Cotton from around the cotton seed (cotton was once called 'tree wool', because it grows on bushes)
    3. Flax from a small plant with blue flowers, which is sown in the fields like oats
    4. Silk from silkworm, a caterpillar which spins a silk cocoon when it is ready to turn into a crysalis or pupa
    5. Hemp from the stem of a plant similar to flax
    6. Nylon, which is a polyamide* (polyester); man-made fibre, produced from coal, air, and water
    7. Orlon, another man-made fibre
    8. Many other synthetic man-made materials are - viscose rayon, tricel, terylene, etc.

    Some basic threads used in fabrics

    1. Wool from the sheep
    2. Cotton from around the cotton seed (cotton was once called 'tree wool', because it grows on bushes)
    3. Flax from a small plant with blue flowers, which is sown in the fields like oats
    4. Silk from silkworm, a caterpillar which spins a silk cocoon when it is ready to turn into a crysalis or pupa
    5. Hemp from the stem of a plant similar to flax
    6. Nylon, which is a polyamide* (polyester); man-made fibre, produced from coal, air, and water
    7. Orlon, another man-made fibre
    8. Many other synthetic man-made materials are - viscose rayon, tricel, terylene, etc.
Note: The information above is sourced from the International Correspondent School (ICS) study materials.

Characteristics and uses of textile fibres

  • A+ Img

    COTTON

    • Cotton is a natural vegetable fibre; in its natural state it is a fluffy mass which protects the seeds of the cotton plant. It's very strong and durable, heat resistant, and retains its whiteness. It can be blended with linen, silk, or man-made fibres, and is a smooth, washable material. Cotton materials are available with many finishes; e.g. glazed, embossed, napped, mercerised, crease-resistant, flame-resistant, and water repellent. Cotton cloths with crisp finishes include chintz, denim, organdie, pique, and net.
    • Raw cotton fibre is mercerised by treating it with cold concerntrated caustic soda solution, which makes each individual cotton fibre swell in size; it is then rinsed in water and acid to remove the caustic soda solution. If the cloth is held tightly during the mercerising process, it acquires a glaze similar to that of silk; if it is not held firmly, it shrinks. Mercerised cotton has a lustrous finish; shrunken cotton (e.g. cotton seersucker) has no lustre.
    • Cotton is glazed by treating it with starch, wax, or synthetic resin, and then passong it between heated rollers in a machine called a calender. Chintzes are glazed cottons with a high degree of finish; other examples are organdie and blind holland.
    • Gingham, lace, sateen, seersucker, sheeting, terry-cloth, velveteen, and birdseye corduroy, are cotton cloths with medium finishes; voile, lawn, muslin, etc, are cotton cloths with soft finishes.
    • If cottons have not been pre-shrunk, shrink them before using. Iron cottons with a hot iron, using a damp cloth.

    COTTON

    • Cotton is a natural vegetable fibre; in its natural state it is a fluffy mass which protects the seeds of the cotton plant. It's very strong and durable, heat resistant, and retains its whiteness. It can be blended with linen, silk, or man-made fibres, and is a smooth, washable material. Cotton materials are available with many finishes; e.g. glazed, embossed, napped, mercerised, crease-resistant, flame-resistant, and water repellent. Cotton cloths with crisp finishes include chintz, denim, organdie, pique, and net.
    • Raw cotton fibre is mercerised by treating it with cold concerntrated caustic soda solution, which makes each individual cotton fibre swell in size; it is then rinsed in water and acid to remove the caustic soda solution. If the cloth is held tightly during the mercerising process, it acquires a glaze similar to that of silk; if it is not held firmly, it shrinks. Mercerised cotton has a lustrous finish; shrunken cotton (e.g. cotton seersucker) has no lustre.
    • Cotton is glazed by treating it with starch, wax, or synthetic resin, and then passong it between heated rollers in a machine called a calender. Chintzes are glazed cottons with a high degree of finish; other examples are organdie and blind holland.
    • Gingham, lace, sateen, seersucker, sheeting, terry-cloth, velveteen, and birdseye corduroy, are cotton cloths with medium finishes; voile, lawn, muslin, etc, are cotton cloths with soft finishes.
    • If cottons have not been pre-shrunk, shrink them before using. Iron cottons with a hot iron, using a damp cloth.
  • KS Img

    SILK

    • This natural fibre is spun by the caterpillars of silk moths. These caterpillars are called 'silkworms'. Silk is quite strong and generally a very thin fabric. It can be mixed with nylon, orlon, or acetate threads, and it dyes and prints well.
    • Silk usually feels soft and smooth to the touch, but this depends to some extent upon the way in which it is woven. It can be crushed into a ball and will spring out again without creasing.
    • If in doubt wheter or not a material is silk, test it by burning a small sample; if it is silk it will leave small bristtle balls on the edge of the burn. Certain types of silk cloths are washable, but silk is usually best dry-cleaned, provided that the process used does not take the gum sizing out of the fabric (although if this happens the sizing can be replaced). Gum sizing is used to make silk fabric stiffer.
    • Well-known silk materials are shiffon, crepe, faille, foulard, georgette, jersey (knitted), lace, satin, shantung, surah, taffeta, tulle, velvet, moire, barathea, bengaline.

    SILK

    • This natural fibre is spun by the caterpillars of silk moths. These caterpillars are called 'silkworms'. Silk is quite strong and generally a very thin fabric. It can be mixed with nylon, orlon, or acetate threads, and it dyes and prints well.
    • Silk usually feels soft and smooth to the touch, but this depends to some extent upon the way in which it is woven. It can be crushed into a ball and will spring out again without creasing.
    • If in doubt wheter or not a material is silk, test it by burning a small sample; if it is silk it will leave small bristtle balls on the edge of the burn. Certain types of silk cloths are washable, but silk is usually best dry-cleaned, provided that the process used does not take the gum sizing out of the fabric (although if this happens the sizing can be replaced). Gum sizing is used to make silk fabric stiffer.
    • Well-known silk materials are shiffon, crepe, faille, foulard, georgette, jersey (knitted), lace, satin, shantung, surah, taffeta, tulle, velvet, moire, barathea, bengaline.
  • KS Img

    WOOL

    • This natural fibre is normally the hair or 'fleece' of sheep, although some kinds of wool come from the fleece of other animals. Wool gives excellent insulation against heat, and is therefore a warm material. It absorbs moisture and needs to be well-aired; it is crease-resisting when used as pure wool and not mixed with synthetic fibres. It can be blended with cotton, silks, linen, and most man-made fibres, and has a certain amount of elasticity. Nowadays, wool is made moth repellent, water repellent, and washable.
    • As a general rule, woollen fabrics must be carefully washed, and it is better to have a garment dry-cleaned if there is any doubt about the fabric having been pre-shrunk. Wool can be woven into material with a pile, and woollen cloth can be very thick and compact. The cloths usually considered as woollen materials include: jersey, serge, melton, tweed, boucle, felt, flannel, gabardine, cheviot, and crepe. When pressing these cloths (except the crepe and boucles) use a press cloth and moist heat.

    WOOL

    • This natural fibre is normally the hair or 'fleece' of sheep, although some kinds of wool come from the fleece of other animals. Wool gives excellent insulation against heat, and is therefore a warm material. It absorbs moisture and needs to be well-aired; it is crease-resisting when used as pure wool and not mixed with synthetic fibres. It can be blended with cotton, silks, linen, and most man-made fibres, and has a certain amount of elasticity. Nowadays, wool is made moth repellent, water repellent, and washable.
    • As a general rule, woollen fabrics must be carefully washed, and it is better to have a garment dry-cleaned if there is any doubt about the fabric having been pre-shrunk. Wool can be woven into material with a pile, and woollen cloth can be very thick and compact. The cloths usually considered as woollen materials include: jersey, serge, melton, tweed, boucle, felt, flannel, gabardine, cheviot, and crepe. When pressing these cloths (except the crepe and boucles) use a press cloth and moist heat.
  • A+ Img

    LINEN

    • This is woven from the natural vegetable fibre called flax, and is very durable and strong. It's absorbent and bleaches easily. It can be blended with silk, rayon, wool, cotton, and synthetic fibres. Linen is less elastic than wool.
    • Linen is best ironed with a hot iron and on the wrong side.

    NYLON

    • This man-made plyamide* (polyester) fibre is very strong and versatile. Its greatest attraction is that it is quick-drying; but it also retains pleats, size, and shape, and has good moth and flame resistance. It melts in hot flame, and will disintegrate under a hot iron so that fragments of the fabric stick to the iron and form hard beads.
    • Fabrics made from nylon include shirtings, taffeta, tricot, lace, brocade, damask, marquinette, net, satin, sheers, seersuckers, and many others.
    • A low heat is essential when ironing nylon.

    LINEN

    • This is woven from the natural vegetable fibre called flax, and is very durable and strong. It's absorbent and bleaches easily. It can be blended with silk, rayon, wool, cotton, and synthetic fibres. Linen is less elastic than wool.
    • Linen is best ironed with a hot iron and on the wrong side.

    NYLON

    • This man-made plyamide* (polyester) fibre is very strong and versatile. Its greatest attraction is that it is quick-drying; but it also retains pleats, size, and shape, and has good moth and flame resistance. It melts in hot flame, and will disintegrate under a hot iron so that fragments of the fabric stick to the iron and form hard beads.
    • Fabrics made from nylon include shirtings, taffeta, tricot, lace, brocade, damask, marquinette, net, satin, sheers, seersuckers, and many others.
    • A low heat is essential when ironing nylon.
  • A+ Img

    ORLON

    • This man-made acryline* fabric resists sunlight, mildew, moths, and chemicals. Orlon material does not shrink and washes well by hand. Although it can be a thick fabric, and can be brushed, napped, and cropped in manufacture, it is not a heavy fabric.
    • Orlon blends very well with other fabrics, especially with wool, but in some cloths it has a tendency to fray.
    • Orlon needs to be carefully ironed with a cool iron.

    ORLON

    • This man-made acryline* fabric resists sunlight, mildew, moths, and chemicals. Orlon material does not shrink and washes well by hand. Although it can be a thick fabric, and can be brushed, napped, and cropped in manufacture, it is not a heavy fabric.
    • Orlon blends very well with other fabrics, especially with wool, but in some cloths it has a tendency to fray.
    • Orlon needs to be carefully ironed with a cool iron.
  • A+ Img

    VISCOSE RAYON

    • This very versatile man-made fibre is a derivative of cellulose* (obtained from wood pulp). It can be crimped or straight, has a full or shiny appearance, appears to have a good 'whiteness', and blends well with many other fibres.
    • Viscose rayon can be both stain and crease resistant, is water repellent and can be used as a flame retardant.
    • To get a good pressed finish viscose rayon requires a hot iron, but some rayon cloths are preferably dry-cleaned. It is advisable to check viscose rayon for shrinkage, and not to use very much steam when pressing it.
    • Fabrics made with viscose rayon include demask, faille, moire, ninon, satin, lace, sharkskin, taffeta, velvet, tricot, crash, bengaline, jersey and many others. Some viscose rayon fabrics tend to fray easily.

    VISCOSE RAYON

    • This very versatile man-made fibre is a derivative of cellulose* (obtained from wood pulp). It can be crimped or straight, has a full or shiny appearance, appears to have a good 'whiteness', and blends well with many other fibres.
    • Viscose rayon can be both stain and crease resistant, is water repellent and can be used as a flame retardant.
    • To get a good pressed finish viscose rayon requires a hot iron, but some rayon cloths are preferably dry-cleaned. It is advisable to check viscose rayon for shrinkage, and not to use very much steam when pressing it.
    • Fabrics made with viscose rayon include demask, faille, moire, ninon, satin, lace, sharkskin, taffeta, velvet, tricot, crash, bengaline, jersey and many others. Some viscose rayon fabrics tend to fray easily.
  • A+ Img

    TRICEL

    • Tricel or tri-acetate* fibre is a synthetic man-made fibre. Tricel cloth is well known for its crease-resisting properties; it is a soft, shrink-resistant material. It blends with most other fibres, and can be manufactured with either a stiff or a soft finish. It does not shrink or stretch easily.
    • Tricel can be washed or dry-cleaned, but is generally classed as a good-washing, quick-drying fabric that requires very little or no ironing.

    TERYLENE

    • This is a man-made polyester* fibre; it produces a good hard-wearing material which keeps its shape and zise. Terylene cloth is a strong, crease-resisting cloth; it is washable and requires little ironing. If an iron is used a very low heat is advisable, although terylene is not easily ignited - in fact, it is difficult to burn.

    TRICEL

    • Tricel or tri-acetate* fibre is a synthetic man-made fibre. Tricel cloth is well known for its crease-resisting properties; it is a soft, shrink-resistant material. It blends with most other fibres, and can be manufactured with either a stiff or a soft finish. It does not shrink or stretch easily.
    • Tricel can be washed or dry-cleaned, but is generally classed as a good-washing, quick-drying fabric that requires very little or no ironing.

    TERYLENE

    • This is a man-made polyester* fibre; it produces a good hard-wearing material which keeps its shape and zise. Terylene cloth is a strong, crease-resisting cloth; it is washable and requires little ironing. If an iron is used a very low heat is advisable, although terylene is not easily ignited - in fact, it is difficult to burn.
Note: The information above is sourced from the International Correspondent School (ICS) study materials.

*Such terms as this refer to the chemical structure of the substances concerned, and can be properly understood only by those with a knowledge of organic chemistry.