Fabrics are an integral part of a garment and plays an important role in your clothing decision. Generally, a set number of yarns are used for the formation of fabrics. Also, a number of techniques are used for producing fabrics such as weaving, knitting, and felting. The type of fabrics varies by the fibres, the fabric formation techniques, machinery used for producing them, and finishing techniques. Fabrics can also be made differently based on the end-usage.
Fabrics are made from six main sources (the first three are natural) :
1-Animal : They are commonly made from hair, fur, skin or silk : wool, cashmere, mohair, angora, silk
2-Plant : They are collected from seed cases, leaves or stem of a plant : cotton, flax, jute, bamboo, hemp, modal
3-Mineral : Glass fibre, metal fibre, asbestos
4-Synthetic : Produced through chemical process from fossil fuels : nylon, polyester, acrylic, rayon, spandex, aramid. Synthetic fabrics have some qualifications such as being waterproof, wrinkle free, soft, stain resistant, etc.
5-Semi-synthetic : They are combined from natural plant fibres and chemicals such as viscos.
6-Blends : Combination of different fibres in order to improve the performance, texture and reduce the cost.
Natural fibres are more breathable and hypoallergenic while synthetic fabric are less breathable and may irritate the skin. On the other hand, they are more expensive and difficult to care for while synthetic ones are less expensive, easier to care for, they are more suitable for athletic wear because of their qualifications.
Types of Natural Fabrics for Clothing (incl. originals)
A natural fiber that grows in the seedpod of the cotton plant. It is soft, breathable, lightweight, hypoallergenic and durable. Used for mostly for summer clothes, everyday garments, like t-shirts, and home items such as bed sheets.
Made from fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. The fibers are much stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool, breathable, durable and absorbent but wrinkle very easily unless blended with manufactured fibers. Used for house hold items, summer clothes and inner layer of jackets.
An eco-friendly fibre obtained from the stalk of the plant “Cannabis sativa.” It is light weighted, breathable, strong, absorbent and easily bleached. The better grades are used in the manufacture of carpets.
Natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. Most silk is collected from cultivated caterpillars and comes from Asia.
It is known as one of the finest textiles because of its softness, delicacy and radiant sheen. Used for formal attire, accessories, scarves, evening gowns, bedding, upholstery, etc.
Thick, heavy natural fiber that comes from the fleece of a sheep, goat, llama or alpaca. It can be knitted or woven. It's warm, resilient, moisture-winking, easy to dye, difficult to bleach. Used to make any type of clothes such as suits, knitwear, underwear and socks.
Incredibly soft wool made from the downy undercoat of cashmere goats and pashmina goats . The fibers are very fine, light, soft and delicate, feeling almost like a silk fabric. Considered a luxury fiber which used to make warm winter clothes such as shawls, sweaters and knitwears.
It refers to the downy coat produced by the Angora rabbit. This is different from Mohair which comes from Angora goat. Used to make sweaters and accessories. It is silky, thin, easy to blend and dye.
It is the natural fiber harvested from an alpaca animal ( South Africa) which can produce fleece through its life without being harmed. Light, very soft, resilient, durable, insulating, warm and hypoallergenic, ideal for winter clothing.
Made of hair fibers of Angora goat, durable, hypoallergenic, insulating, resilient and notable for its high luster and sheen, often used in fiber blends to add these qualities to a textile. Used to winter clothing such as sweaters, coats, gloves and scarfs.
A Natural fiber obtained from the hair of Bactian camel, highest grades are tan-coloured, fine and soft. Its also has high resiliency and more insulating than wool. Used to make coats, sweaters and suits.
Durable and flexible material created by tanning animal (cattle) rawhide and skins. Different leathers result from different types of animals and different treatment techniques. It is light weighted, durable, liquid repellent and weather resistant. Used to make out wear and accessories.
Clothing made of furry animal hides; like fox and beaver. Its strong, durable and best for keeping warm and used for winter outfits such as coats, scarves, gloves and hats.
Natural fiber woven from long, soft and shiny vegetable fiber from the plant Jute. It is extremely durable and biodegradable. Used to make shoes, rugs and decorations.
A type of high-quality wool made from the fleece of purebred merino sheep. It is fine, strong, stretchy, breathable, odor-resistant, moisture-wicking and dye-retentive, one of the softest forms of wool and doesn’t aggravate the skin. Considered a luxurious fiber and is used frequently for socks and outdoor clothing.
A heavy cotton fustian cloth with a great number of picks raised before dyeing, resulting in a brushed surface. Used for workmen’s clothing and sportswear.
The softer side of leather, which has been brushed, leaving a velvet like texture. It is made from the hide of a lamb though goat, pig, cow, calf and deer. Durable, pliable and due to its thin nature can be molded and crafted easily. Used for footwear, jackets, and accessories, like belts and bags.
Finely woven, soft, high-quality cotton from Egypt. This high grade of cotton boasts the longest and strongest fibers.
Primarily used in creating berets, scarves, vests, cardigans, coats, and jackets. To create this fabric, knit wool or wool-blend fabrics are agitated with hot water in a process called fulling to make it more resistant, more compact and fairly waterproof.
Lightweight, sheer fabric with a very good drape and crepe like feel. It is made of twisted filament yarns with a soft weave. Usually woven of silk, rayon and other synthetic fibers. Used in making dresses and lingerie.
An all-wool fabric of plain or twill weave, usually quite pure and soft since it is worn as underclothing. The best flannel is made from fully shrunk yarns with a slight twist .
Sturdy fabric with a twill weave that can be made of cotton, wool or synthetic fibers. Used to make suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers, and other garments.
Soft, breathable, stretchy, knit fabric that was originally made from wool and now cotton and synthetic fibers. Used for tops and fuller dresses as well as variety of other clothing and household items.
Woven, medium-weight, tufted, luxurious fabric made of silk, nylon, acetate or rayon. Characterized by a dense pile of evenly cut fibers that have a smooth nap. Has a beautiful drape and a unique soft and shiny appearance due to the characteristics of the short pile fibers. Popular for evening wear, home decor and upholstery.
Fabric incorporating bamboo fibres is eco friendly durable and strong. They are porous, breathable and absorbent. Due to its versatile properties, they are used mainly in textile industry for making attires, towels, and bathrobes
Sturdy, warp faced, heavy-weighted rugged coarse, durable , twill-weave cotton fabric; prominently used to make jeans and casual wear.
An extremely durable plain weave fabric made of cotton or linen. By blending cotton with synthetic fibers, it can become heavy duty, water resistant or waterproof material making it a great outdoor fabric for sails, tents, shoes and backpacks.
Incredibly soft, woven fabric that can be made from a variety of different fibers, including cotton, silk, wool, and rayon, mostly used in upholstery.
Type of sheer,crinkled, crêpe fabric that is typically made from pure silk but can also be made from synthetic fibers like rayon, viscose, and polyester, it is woven from hard-twisted yarns to produce a pebbly surface an creates a lightweight, flowing look. Used for blouses, dresses, evening gowns, saris, and trimmings.
Refers to all fabric, silk, wool, or synthetic fiber fabric with a distinctively crisp, crimped appearance. Special hard-twisted yarns are used to create permanent effect. Used for blouses and dresses with graceful drape.
Soft, smooth and insulating fabric with a nap, made from sheared fiber from animals (such as sheep) and twisted into yarn for weaving. Synthetic ones almost mimic the properties of wool. Used for jackets, hats, jumpers and throw blankets.
Twill fabric, originally made of 100% cotton, the most common items made from it, trousers, are widely called chinos, today it is also found in cotton-synthetic blends.
Very durable cotton twill fabric used in men’s and women’s slacks. It is a medium weight coarse fabric. When dyed a khaki color, drill is also called “khaki”.
Woven cotton fabric characterized by distinct, diagonal lines on the surface, often darker colored front side with a lighter back. Its strong, durable, relatively light-weighted and drapery, therefore used for suits, pants, denim, chinos, upholstery and bed linens.
Soft, shiny, smooth, light-weighted fabric woven with a satin weave finish and dull matte back. Made of silk, cotton, or synthetic fabric and use for dresses and other clothing.
Traditionally made of wool and is woven in a twill form; thick, dense tightly woven fabric that is felted and heavily brushed for an ultra soft hand. Used for coats, jackets, vests, blankets and historical clothing replications.
Soft, plush, high quality fabric that looks like velvet, has a matte finish and its high opacity makes it ideal for blocking light, also called commando cloth. It may be woven from cotton, wool or silk, used for dresses, suits, and coats.
Crisp, medium-weight, plain-woven fabric made often from silk, also polyester, nylon or acetate. Has a lustrous, shiny appearance and therefore used to make ball gowns.
Rough, woven fabric usually made from wool. The fibers can be woven using a plain weave or twill weaves. It is an extremely warm, thick and stiff hard-wearing fabric, popular for suiting and jackets, which were originally made out of the material for hunting activities.
Lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric that was originally made from silk, also polyester and nylon. Crisp and sheer with a medium to high thread count, characterized by very small holes throughout the fabric. Popular for wedding gowns and evening wear, as it is shimmery and translucent quality which creates decadent silhouettes.
Tightly woven plain-weave fabric (usually a light weight cotton) characterized by a corded surface. A durable fabric, made of cotton but can also be silk, wool or synthetic blends. It does not wrinkle much and is popular for making shirts and dresses.
Types of Synthetic Fabrics
Manufactured fiber formed by a compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp and acetic acid. Has smooth, and drapy silk-like texture, used especially in wedding gowns, party attire and as lining.
Made of synthetic polymer, manufactured fibre that is soft, lightweight, warm, durable and wool-like, used in winter wear, such as sweaters, socks, hats and fleece.
Form of rayon that consists of cellulose fibre made from dissolving pulp using dry jet-wet spinning. It is (cotton-like) soft, lightweight, absorbent and wrinkle resistant, keeps the skin dry, great fabric for sensitive skin. Used to make shirts and underwear.
Made with cellulose from beech trees and is essentially a variety of rayon. It is (cotton-like) soft, smooth, shape-retentive (even when wet), durable, colour-rich and lustrous. Primarily for clothing, such as underwear, pyjamas, active-wear and household items, adds anti-crease and easy care qualities.
Completely synthetic fiber, known for its superior flexibility and excellent resilience. It’s often added to natural fibers to boost a garment’s durability and can be found in everyday clothing. Commonly used for stiff outwear items such as sport shoes and jackets as well as handbags and active-wear.
Ultra-fine, soft, stretchy , light weighted synthetic fiber made from usually polyester or nylon, stain resistant, used in clothing and cleaning products because it is non-abrasive, absorbent and leaves no lint or dust.
Extremely durable synthetic rubber that is lightweight and buoyant, and has an outstanding resistance to temperature, chlorine, used for swimwear, outerwear, and high fashion clothing.
Semi-synthetic, silk-like, extremely versatile material made from wood pulp or other vegetable matter, often used to substitute natural fibres in clothing. It’s known for excellent softness, drape, high absorption and a lustrous look. Used to make everything from shirts to dresses.
Strong, non-woven fabric made from wool or acrylic by the application of heat, moisture and pressure. Varying in thickness, density and softness, felt doesn't fray when cut so is often used in quick and easy craft projects, home decorations, teddies and quirky hats.
Shiny, durable, plastic-coated, water resistant fabric typically made with a woven backing of polyester fibers that are then coated with polyvinyl chloride or a blend of PVC and polyurethane. Its commonly used for outdoor clothing, raincoats as well as high shine skirts, dresses, leggings and pants.
Made of petrochemicals (ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid) and has high strength, excellent resiliency, colour retention, wrinkle resistance, high abrasion resistance and dries quickly. Polyester blends are also very popular for active-wear.
Silky, glossy finish on one side and a dull finish on the other, made so by the type of weave used. It has a smooth, shiny surface and beautiful drape. It comes in different weights (light to heavy) and similar to silk in appearance. Used for lingerie, nightgowns, blouses, evening gowns and bed sheets, upholstery.
Made of synthetic fibers to resemble animal leather and suede. Made from a plastic base and treated with wax, dye or polyurethane to create the colour and texture. Used for jackets, pants, skirts, gloves, home decor and upholstery.
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. Used for summer clothing, home decor and upholstery.
Made of synthetic fibers to resemble animal fur. Faux fur is a knitted, synthetic fabric made from a blend of acrylic and polyester fibers. Used for coats, jackets and home decor.
Elastane is just another name for spandex. The word "elastane" is used in Europe while "spandex" is used in the United States. Elastane/spandex trade names are Lycra and Dorlastan. It is lightweight, elastic and soft, but stronger and more durable than rubber and is used in compression garments, swimwear, and bras.