A Quick Guide to Types of Textile Fibers and Their Applications
Textiles play an essential role in our day-to-day lives. Textile fibers are raw materials that can be used to make different types of fabric.
A fiber that can be turned into yarn or processed into textiles such as types of knit fabric, woven fabric, lace, and non-woven fabrics by interlacing methods is known as textile fibers. A textile fiber should be at least 5 mm in length and must be flexible and robust enough.
High durability, uniformity, luster, elasticity, crimp, etc., are some of the other properties of textile fibers. Textile fibers are used for various applications like warmth, covering, personal adornment, and to showcase personal wealth. Technology has been evolving on a daily basis to meet these demands.
If you’re new to sewing different types of clothes, then having a basic knowledge of different types of fibers will help you choose the right quality for your sewing project.
This guide covers different types of textile fibers, their origin, and their application.
Table of Contents
2 Basic Types of Fibers in Clothing
There are so many types of textile fibers available in the market based on different characteristics. Textile fibers are, on a broad basis, classified into two categories. Here they are:
Natural fibers are those fibers that are produced in a natural way. The sources of fiber can be animals, vegetables, and minerals. Natural fibers are also divided into different categories based on their characteristics.
Man-made fibers are different from natural fibers. These fibers are like plastic and are made from polymers. These types of fibers in clothing can be classified further into synthetic fiber and regenerated fiber.
What Are the Five Different Types of Textiles?
Textiles are produced from threads and fibers that are made from natural or man-made materials. Different types of textiles include cords, nets, threads, etc.
Textile fibers are processed into the fabric using different methods such as knitting, weaving, and felting. There are several steps involved in producing this, and thus, it determines the cost of the fabric. The fewer steps and quicker process means lower the price of the fabric.
Sometimes it might be tough to differentiate between fabric and textile. They both are different. Here are five different types of textiles you should know.
Natural fibers are eco-friendly fibers that come from plants or animals. These renewable fibers are biodegradable and light.
Textiles made from animal fibers are obtained from animal’s skin or fur. These types of fibers are used for making types of leather jackets, coats, blazers, and other clothes. Rabbits, sheep, camels, goats, etc., are familiar sources of obtaining soft animal-based fibers.
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Fibers obtained from pigs, cows, and horses are pretty less soft. Animal-based fibers are known as protein-rich fibers.
Different types of wool are popular animal-based fibers that are obtained from the skin of sheep. Cashmere, Vicuna, Camel’s Hair, Mohair, Alpaca, Horsehair, etc., are significant fibers used in the textile. Sometimes cat’s and cow’s hair are also used.
Different types of silk are also obtained from animal-based fibers such as silkworm Bombyx mori. Different breeds of the silkworm, spider, and seashell mix are also used in making excellent silk types.
Plant-based fibers are popular in the textile industry. They are environment-friendly, and thus, textile manufacturers prefer these types of fabrics. Plant-based fibers are also categorized into:
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These strongest cellulose fibers are obtained from the outer or inner bark of the plant. Alpaca stalk hemp, kenaf, jute, linen, ramie, and vine fibers are known as bast fibers.
Seed and Fruit Fibers
Cotton, coir, and kapok are known as seed and fruit fibers.
Leaf fibers are Manila leaf fibers, Sisal leaf fibers, and Pineapple leaf fibers.
Man-made fibers are categorized into cellulose, synthetic, or semi-synthetic.
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These types of sewing fabrics are mixed with carbon disulfide and caustic soda and processed via a spinneret to produce fibers. These fibers are obtained from extracting cellulose that is found in woody plants. The production methods of cellulose fibers include lyocell, viscose, model, and ready-made man-made fibers.
Synthetic fibers are made from a chemical process that includes alcohol, petroleum, gas, and water. Synthetic fibers are cheaper than other fibers and are considered the best replacement for natural fibers. You should learn some advanced sewing hacks to make clothes from this fabric.
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Polyester fibers are one of the most popular types of synthetic fibers. These fine fibers are blended with other fibers such as wool and cotton to create high-quality types of polyester fabrics.
Polyester fibers have wrinkle resistance, high stability, and strength characteristics, which makes them great for making dresses. If you’re wondering how to sew polyester fabric, you can read these 35 intermediate sewing projects.
Polyurethane fibers are popular as spandex. These fibers are very stretchable, and thus, garments are made by blending other fibers. Polyurethane fibers are used in making lingerie, swimwear, etc.
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This fiber is a stain-resistant and strong abrasion synthetic fiber. Olefin fibers are used for making sportswear and activewear.
Nylon fiber is one of the strongest synthetic types of textile fibers. They are chemical-resistance, wrinkle-free, and easy to maintain. Nylon fibers are used in making clothes such as lingerie and sportswear. With some advanced sewing techniques, you can learn to sew nylon fabric.
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These types of textile fibers are made from Acrylic, which is a plastic component. Acrylic fibers are lightweight, soft, and have similar properties to wool.
They are used for making winter wear and sweaters due to their warm retention quality. Moda acrylic is considered one of the most special types of acrylic fibers. These fibers do not absorb moisture.
These types of fibers are obtained from natural materials and reformed by a chemical process. Acetate, Promix, and Triacetate are known as semi-synthetic fibers.
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This fiber uses wood pulp as raw material and is treated with acetic acid. Acetate fibers are beautiful, strong, soft, and shiny fibers.
These man-made fibers are obtained from natural protein sources such as soy, milk, and eggs.
Triacetate fibers are combined with more acetic fibers to form this fiber.
Different Types of Fibres and Fabrics According to Their Sources
There are different types of fibres and yarn used in making fabric. The fabric formation varies based on fibers, machined used for producing and finishing them.
Textile fabrics are made from various raw materials which are obtained from natural or man-made fibers. These textile fibers go through numerous processes to become eligible raw-material for fabric.
There are two broad categories of different types of fibres and fabrics and their end-use.
Fabrics from Natural Fibers
Different types of fibre cloth obtained from natural sources are used to manufacture textile fabrics. Many natural sources of cellulose content are gathered to produce different types of textile products.
These fiber products are grown on a commercial basis to meet the increasing demand for textile fabrics. Here are some of the commercially grown fabrics which are produced from natural sources.
Cotton is one of the popular natural fibers that originate from the seedpod of the cotton plant. Cotton is used for making different types of cotton fabric. These types of fibres and fabrics are considered to be soft and comfortable.
The increasing use of cotton fabric for making newborn’s dresses and beddings is a live example of its softness and skin-friendliness properties. When you go cotton shopping, make sure you check this fabric’s woven labels and care labels to know the quality and type.
Cotton is known as an all-season fabric due to its unique feature of adjusting to changing climate. Cotton can keep your body cool and absorb heat in summer, while it can make you feel warm when worn in the winter season.
Various fabrics such as Drill, Denim, Cambric, Calico, Gabardine, Velvet, Gingham, Corduroy, Terry Toweling, Chintz Cambric, etc., are made from cotton. Read these top 10 reasons to start sewing clothes from cotton today.
This is a kind of natural fabrics used to make apparel and home furnishing items such as bedspreads, tablecloths, curtains, etc. Linen is one of the safest fabrics for sensitive skin as it has allergy-resistant properties.
This fabric does not create problems such as irritation, allergic reaction, etc. Linen fabric is strong, durable, and easy to maintain.
Cashmere fabrics are obtained from hair fiber which makes the downy undercoat for the Kashmir goat. Cashmere fabrics are also used for soft wool.
Cashmere wool processed from goats is often considered luxurious due to its cost-effectiveness, luster, softness, and scarcity. Many designers sell cashmere clothes using hang tags. China and Mongolia dominate the cashmere fabric market.
Silk is one of the most robust natural fabrics on the planet. Silk was first discovered in 2640 BC in China, and since then, a variety of silk fabrics have been used in the textile industry.
These types of fibres in clothing are known for their luster, softness, and beauty. Clothes made from silk fibers can give you the utmost comfort in all weather. Silk can keep your body cool in summer and warm in winter.
Silk textile is famous across the world because of its quality, weaving, and designs. The USA is a leading manufacturer of silk products in the world, and Italy and France are known for producing high-quality, sophisticated silk fabrics in Europe.
Damask, Chiffon, Crepe de Chine, Pongee, Georgette, Taffeta, Satin, Organza, Dupion, Noil, etc., are different types of silk fabrics used in the textile industry. You can start with these easy beginner sewing projects and make luxurious dresses and home décor items at home.
This soft, durable, and strong fabric can give you an attractive look and warmth as well. Inflammability, dirt-resistant, high absorb capacity, and wrinkle-free are some of the fantastic properties of wool fabric.
Fabric made from this natural fiber is used for making a piano cover and absorbing odors. Wool fabric has been used in the textile industry for the last 12,000 years.
They have been used in making Kashmiri sweaters since they have remarkable properties. Australia and China have been producing around 1,160-million-kilogram wool per year from a worldwide herd of 1.16 million sheep.
Flannel, Shetland, Jersey, Fleece, Worsted, Baize, Tartan, Tweed, and Serge are varieties of wool fabrics. They are used in making modern carpets and blankets.
Hemp fabric is used in making furniture, accessories, shoes, apparel, and home furnishing items. These types of fibres in clothing are known for their softness, durability, and warmth.
Hemp fabric is perfect for making clothes that can last longer and withstand harsh conditions. These fabrics have UV-protected properties with insulative quality that can allow the clothes to be cool in the summer.
Hemp fabric is made right from the stem of the plant. Hemp grows fast with high yields, which makes it an environment-friendly fiber. The finest hemp fabric is manufactured in Italy.
Hemp fabric is great for making comfortable work clothes, curtains, upholstery, table linens, dish towels, draperies, canvas, etc.
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Jute fabric has been used for ages for packing bags and sacks. They are one of the strongest natural fibers used in making fashionable clothes, accessories, and home furnishing items.
Bangladesh is the largest cultivator of jute fabric, and India ranks second in producing jute. Jute fabric is used in manufacturing cordage, carpets, linoleum, and twines.
Leather fabric is comfortable both in hot and cold conditions. This fabric can add a classic luxury, soft touch, and utmost comfort to your clothes. Leather is soft, firm, and elastic, and thus it is not affected by the surrounding temperature.
They come with high water-absorbing properties and do not lose dryness and shape when stretched. Learn advanced sewing techniques and seams to make leather jackets.
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Ramie fabric is acquired from the Ramie plant that comes in heart-shaped leaves. Ramie plants are known as China Grass since they are grown as a fiber crop in China. Ramie fibers can retain their original shape, have greater strength when wet, and reduce wrinkles.
This valuable summer fabric is not damaged by mild acid and can absorb moisture and resist alkali. Ramie was used for making open-weave fabrics such as “Merecha,” which is perfect for a warm climate.
Fabrics from Man-made Fibers
Fabrics made from man-made fibers are as follows:
Acetate fabric is made from combining cellulose obtained from wood pulp and acetic acid. These fibers are dry and found in granular form, which can be dry spun when broken up into acetone.
Acetate fabric is processed by reconstructing cotton fibers or wood pulp and gives a luxurious look and softness, just like silk. These textile fabrics are a moth, resistant to shrinkage and mildew.
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Rayon is acquired from the wood pulp of pine, eucalyptus, or beech wood. They are also made from different short cotton fibers known as cotton linters.
These are waste products obtained from a cotton processing factory. This synthetic fiber is also gained by forcing cellulose through fine spinnerets. The process of making rayon fabric is quite challenging.
Rayon fabrics are types of knit fabric and have higher effectiveness than taffeta or other cotton fabric. These types of fibers in clothing are used for making home furnishing items and clothes.
Viscose is another rayon fabric that is popular for furnishing since it provides the staple for tablecloths and towels. Its soft texture makes it the most lovable fabric among consumers.
Azlon fibers are made up of protein materials obtained from natural sources. They are produced just like other synthetic fibers by transforming raw material into a solution that is forced via the holes of the spinneret device.
They are then stretched enough to improve the alignment of the molecules’ chains to make the fiber.
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Polyester is now the world’s most used fiber and overtook cotton in 2002. Polyester fabrics are those fabrics that cannot be found from natural sources.
This man-made fabric has a considerable market share as compared to other man-made fibers. Different types of polyester fabrics are used in various applications.
Polyester fabric is wrinkle-free and can hold its original shape, which makes it popular among manufacturers. This strong and soft fabric can be blended with other fabrics to make it more durable and robust.
Polyester fabric is used to make curtains, floor coverings, draperies, throw rugs, and insulating material.
Spandex fabric is a popular fashion fabric for holding its original shape even after stretching up to 600x times. This fabric is excellent for providing comfort, flexibility, and superior strength.
Spandex fabric can feel and fit better when blended with other fibers. With its fantastic shape-resistant qualities, spandex fabric is used in making different types of underwear for women and men.
This versatile fabric provides resistance to body oils, and they are more durable and stable.
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Acrylic fabric is a type of synthetic fiber that is also known as an imitation of wool. These are different types of fibre cloth that are known for their ability to wear and tear resistance and stiffness.
The primary use of acrylic fabric is in clothes such as shirts and women’s outfits. They are also used in making sofas and chairs.
Acrylic fabrics are categorized into two forms: Orlon and Courtelle. Orlon is popular for its lightweight.
These fabrics are suitable for many applications. Many manufacturers and suppliers in the textile industry choose acrylic fabrics as they are cost-effective.
Acrylic fabrics are considered as one of the best inventions of mankind in different types of textile industry.
The Nylon term is derived from New York and London. This fiber is obtained from polyamide and by repeating units connected by a chemical bond.
Fabrics made from Nylon fibers are known as Nylon fabrics which can be used in clothing, covers, sheets, and other domestic and commercial appliances. Nylon takes less time to produce and requires less attention which makes it popular among manufacturers.
Nylon is a polymer of amide and thus named polyamide obtained from petroleum. Nylon fabric is strong and has high stretchable properties. They are easy to maintain and can be clean without much effort.
Lastex is another elastic fiber that is made from Latex. This fabric is combined with other fibers to make different types of fabrics, such as spandex and other garments.
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Carbon fabric is used in different types of textile products such as aircraft interiors, Brake linings, Tooling, Racing helmets, Windmill blades, etc. They are popular fabrics used for aerospace applications since they provide incredible stiffness.
When made with proper care, carbon fabrics can provide excellent strength. There are different types of carbon fabrics available in the market, which are categorized based on their fire-resistant, lightweight, dimension, and high strength properties.
Vinyl fabrics are made with ultraviolet stabilized pigments. There are several vinyl fabrics available in the market. Vinyl fabric is not appropriate if you have an application that requires direct exposure to sunlight.
Different Types of Textile Products – Home Textile
Textile products are characterized as raw, manufactured or semi-manufactured, semi-worked, semi-made products that are composed of different types of textile fibers.
Home textile is another part of technical textile, which comprises textile products manufactured for household purposes. Home textiles and products deal with internal spaces and the environment.
These textile products are used for their aesthetic properties and provide us with a great mood and mental relaxation. Here are different types of textile products for the household.
Blankets are made of different types of fibers, which provide a great degree of softness, warmth, and durability. The blanket yarns are composed of cotton blend, wool blend, or polyester blend.
These types of textile products are woven but can be stitch-knitted or knitted or just by grouping fibers onto a polyurethane foam base. The fabric is napped to make the close, thick, and fuzzy surface.
Sheets and Pillowcases
Sheets and pillowcases are related to fabrics woven with a plain weave of cotton-polyester blended yarns. Sometimes sheets and pillowcases are also made from silk, nylon, linen, and acetate fibers, and the construction differs from plain to knitted and satin weave.
They are identified based on threads count such as 124, 128, 130, 180, and 200. The higher the thread count, the more uniform the weave. Sheet and pillowcases always come with fiber labels, but you can examine them by holding them in your hand.
Crosswise and lengthwise threads must be of even thickness rather than having thick and thin spots at some places. Pillowcases are manufactured in sizes to fit queen, standard, and king-size pillows.
Tablecloths are made from cotton, rayon, linen, and polyester fibers. They can be produced in various designs and patterns. Damask and lace construction is used in making tablecloths.
Linen Damask requires excellent care for laundering and ironing. Tablecloths made from linen damask fibers are beautiful and enjoy a high status due to their luxuriousness and durability.
Carpets and Rugs
Floor covering is made from different types of textile fibers from over 5,000 years. Rugs and carpets have been a part of history throughout civilization.
Carpets and rugs play a significant role in increasing the decoration plan of the kitchen, patios, pool edges, bathrooms, office buildings, and schools. The term “rugs” and “carpets” are used in the same place, but the size or form in which these covers are made varies.
The types of fibers, quality, and quantity used in making them impact its pricing. Machine-made carpets are needles, woven or knitted.
Terry towels are used for absorbing moisture from wet skin. They are made from pure cotton fibers or blended with other fibers.
All cotton terry towels provide great absorbency, whereas polyester terry towels are light weighted, strong, and have less shrinkage and faster drying ability.
Now you have all the basic knowledge of different types of textile fibers and their applications. Textile fibers are an essential part of our day-to-day lives. All textile fibers are used in making different clothing and home furnishing items. They have their own characteristics and different processing methods.
The above-listed information will help you choose the best types of fibers and fabrics for your next project.