"The Fabric" - Natural Fibers

This Summary series is meant to be a quick informative read, that will display and breakdown various information about fabrics that are crafted into the beautiful outfits you may see on display here or what you see currently being created within the fashion industry.

Cellulose -

Cellulose is made of carbohydrate and forms the main part of plant cell walls. It can be extracted from the variety of plant cell walls. It can be extracted from the variety of plant forms to make fibers suitable for textile production. They must be soft enough to wear and not break up when worn or washed.

Cotton -

Cotton is a prime example of plant fiber. It has soft and fluffy characteristics and grows around the seed of the cotton plant. These fibers are harvested and then spun into cotton yarn. It could be woven or knitted into a variety of weights. It is durable and has breathable properties which is useful in hot climates as it absorbs moisture and dries off easily. The longer the fibre the stronger and better quality the fabric is for example Egyptian Cotton.

Egyptian cotton is hand picked so puts less stress on the fibers, leaving them straight and intact. These fibers can be made longer to create very fine yarns which make it possible to make yarns without sacrificing the length, giving stronger and softer cotton, unlike regular cotton which has more splices. Since pure Egyptian cotton consists of finer threads, they can be woven into each square inch and produce a finer and more consistent finish, ending up as a softer and more flexible fabric.

Leather -

Leather is made from animal skins or hides. The procedure used to treat the raw animal hides is called tanning. Before this the skins or hides are cured a process that involves salting drying. Then they are soaked in water. This can take a few hours or a few days. The water helps to rid the skin of the salt from the curing process as well as dirt., debris, and excess animal fats. Once the skins are free from hair fat and debris. They are de-limited in a vat of acid. The hides are treated with enzymes that smooth the grain and help to make them soft and flexible. The hides are now ready for the tanning process.

Two ways of tanning -

  • Vegetable Tanning - Produces flexible, but stiff leathers that are used in luggage furniture, belts, hats, and harnesses.

  • Mineral Tanning - Mineral or chrome tanning is used on skins that will used for softer leather products such as purses, bags, shoes, gloves, jackets, sandals.

The skins then go through dyeing and rolling processes, which dry and firm the leather. The final step of the process involves finishing the skin. This is done by covering the grain surface with a chemical compound and then brushing it. If the leather shoes any signs of imperfections the leather will be buffered or sandpapered to cover flaws. Prolonged buffering, the leather will become suede.

Linen -

Linen has similar properties to cotton. especially in the way it handles although it tends to crease more easily. Linen has good absorbency and washes well. It is produced from the flax plant and is commonly regarded as the most ancient fibre.

Fur -

Animals such as mink, fox ,and finn raccoon are bred on farms where the animals are purely reared for their skin. The quality of the fur depends on the welfare of the animal the higher quality of life the better quality of the fur.

Silk -

Silk is derived from a protein fibre and is harvested from the cocoon of the silk worm. The cocoon is made from a continuous thread that is produced by the silkworm to wrap around itself

for protection. Cultivated silk is stronger and has a finer appearance than silk harvested in the wild. During the production of cultivated silk the larva is killed enabling the worker to collect the silk and unravel it in continuous thread. Silkworms live off mulberry trees. For one kilogram of silk around 100 - 200 grams of leaves must be eaten by the larva. Silk Fabric has good drape handle and lustre.

Wool, Cashmere, Angora and Mohair -

Sheep produce wool fleece for protection against the elements and this can be shorn at certain times of the year and spun into wool yarn. Different breeds of sheep produce different qualities of yarn; merino sheep produce the finest and most valuable wool. The majority of wool is produced in Australia and China.

Goats are also used to produce wool. Certain breeds produce cashmere and angora. Cashmere is extremely soft and drapes well. ALpaca, Camel and Rabbit are also sources of fabrics with warm Luxurious feel to them. Wool has warm, slightly elastic quality but does not react well to excessive temperatures when washed in hot water it shrinks due to the shortening of the fibers.

Article reference - Textiles , The Textile reader, The Textiles


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