Hey all! These are some fabric basics for the less textile savvy readers….
The two main categories are Natural fibers & Synthetic Fibers. The titles are self-explanatory.
Natural fibers can be either animal or plant based. Plant based fibers are taken from the stalk. Natural fibers tend to be highly absorbant due to the large dye sites which also allows them to take to dye well providing more vibrant colors than a synthetic. Natural fibers are also breathable and will tend to have create a softer feel.
Cotton has a good degree of strength, durability and absorbency. It can be woven, pressed by heat into flannel, or used as knits. There is evidence that cotton was used as a fabric as early as 3,000 B.C. It is still said that the highest quality of cotton still comes from Egypt.
Linen is a product of the flax plant. Flax is the earliest known natural textile fabric in 5000 B.C. Linen wrinkles easily but like cotton, breathes well.
Silk comes from silk worms and dates back to as early as 2500 B.C. The collection process is intricate which is what constitutes the higher cost involved. Silk can have a smooth finish; raw silk however, may appear nubby with visible slubs. China maintains the title of the highest exporter of silk and has done so for the last 100 years.
Wool comes from animal coats and is known for being warm and is naturally mildew and mold resistant as well as fire resistant.
Synthetic Fibers are man-made and have small dye sites which make them inherently more stain resistant. They are more susesptible to heat due to their synthetic properties and do not breathe as easy as natural fibers.
Polyester is often used as a substitute for cotton as it is easy to care for and stain resistant. However, it has very little breathability.
Rayon is considered to be the most “natural” of synthetic fibers and has a soft draping quality but low resiliency. Rayon was the first man-made fiber created in 1910 and was referred to as ‘artificial silk’.
Nylon was first produced in 1938. It is very strong and has great resilience. It is super abrasion resistant. Nylon replaced silk stockings for women in the early 20th century.
Acrylic has a wool-like hand but offers more color retention. Acrylic is often blended with other fibers. It is warm and wrinkle resistant as well as machine washable!
Hopefully this little overview will give some context to the fabric content the next time your doing a little shopping….