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Fibres are short fine hairs that can be twisted or spun into longer thread or yarn. This may be woven or knitted into fabric.
Fibres (and then yarns and ultimately fabrics) can be can be natural, synthetic or chemically produced hybrid called regenerated fibres.

Natural fibres Are derived from plants like cotton or animals like wool and silk
Synthetic fibres are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
Regenerated Fibres The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources. It is then converted through a chemical process into fibres.

Fabrics & Fibres, an intruduction
Guide to synthetic, (plastic), regenerated, combination and natural fibres.
why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.

Yarns and threads

and what they are used for….
Yarns and threads often take the name from the fibre in which they are spun.

See links to plastic free products HERE

Fibres & Fabrics

Natural
These are plant or animal derived.
They biodegrade
Coarse Fibres are for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses include Abaca jute and sisal.
Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include cotton, flax wool and silk.

Natural Yarn
Coarse Fibres Are used for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses.
they include:
Abaca can be used for rope,
coir from coconuts has a wide range of applications,
jute is used for sack cloth and
sisal for string.
As well as these traditional uses there are many new applications.
Read more HERE

Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include
Cotton used to make cotton
Flax is used to make linen. It is one of the strongest vegetable fibres.
Wools include
Sheep’s wool in a range of weights and qualities
Alpaca wool used to make high-end luxury fabrics.
Angora wool -The silky white wool of the Angora rabbit is very fine and soft, and used in high quality knitwear
Mohair also from the Angora goat.
Cashmere wool comes from cashmere goats and has great insulation properties without being bulky
Silk is strong and light weight.

Synthetic 
These are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
Acrylic, nylon and polyester come from oil and coal.
Most do not biodegrade.
Acrylic fibre resembles wool and so is used to replace that natural fibre.
Nylon is used as a silk substitute. It is a very fine and strong fibre so can be used to make ladies tights.
Polyester is one of the most popular man-made fibres. It is the same  Polyethylene terephthalat, (frequently shortened to PET or PETE and was formerly called PETP or PET-P), that is used to make bottles and a lot of other plastic stuff. Read more

Regenerated 
The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiber. One such in bamboo. Most bamboo fabric  is made using  chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide  combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. Others are looking extremely promising and are biodegradable.
They usually go under the trade names
Rayon
Bamboo Rayon
Viscose,
Modal
Tencel (lyocell)

Regenerated Fibres & fabrics  a very basic introduction

Fabrics

Threads can be woven or knitted into fabric.
They may be named after then yarn type. So cotton can be the fibre the yarn or the fabric. They may be named after the trade name like Modal.
See above for some fibre and yarn names.
But fabrics can also be subdivided into a huge number of additional categories. For example cotton fabric can be described as denim, lawn or muslin.
Woollen fabrics could be called tweed or challis.
Silk comes under any number of of luscious sounding names including Charmeuse, Chiffon and Crepe de Chine.

Fabric may also be described by the technique used to make it. So jersey is a knitted fabric that could be made from cotton, silk or polyester.

You can find over 200 types of fabric listed HERE

Batting

Looks like a kind of cotton wool used for quilting and stuffing things. Can be bought HERE

GSM
gsm means grammes per square metre so typically a voile or muslin would weigh less than 100 grammes per metre.
Shirtweight would be 100 to 200 gsm. Lightweight canvas would be around 300gsm. Denim is often classified in oz per sq yard. 12 oz = 400 gsm.

Buy Fabrics
Buy from on line suppliers
Local fabric shops.
British made Fabric
Regenerated Fibres & fabrics  a very basic introduction
Kinds Of fabric – my ongoing experiences with cloth

The more I sew the more I realise all fabrics are not the same – even if they go under the same name! The following are my ongoing notes on the subject. I have a lot to learn!

Cotton

Lawn is a very fine cotton though as with everything in life it seems you can get different grades of fabric that have, predictably, slightly different qualities. The Ebay lawn I used to make my wrap around top creases far more than the Thai lawn from Japan I used to make the back packers bloomers. I am not complaining about the Ebay lawn. It is still good and at that price, a real bargain. But if you don’t like ironing but do mind looking crumpled than it might be better to try and source a higher grade fabric.

I though I had when I bought some grey lawn from the Button Box in Huddersfield to make the Choir Boy Top. This is more like a muslin more crumply than the Japanese lawn but nots as creased as the Ebay stuff.

Printed Cotton
ROse and Hubble for loon pants. Seems to be indestructible.

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