Historical Fabric information

Fabric Sources:

  1. Animals (e.g. wool or silk)
  • Pure Wool comes from sheep and has waterproof properties due to the natural lanolin produced by the animals
  • Cashmere is from the Cashmere goat
  • Mohair is from the coat of the Angora goat
  • Angora is from the coat of Angora rabbits
  • Vicuna is a type of wool from a relative of Llamas
  • Silk is from the cocoon of the Mulbery silkworm
  1. Plants (e.g. cotton or linen)
  • Cotton is a fibre that grows in a fluffy ‘boll’ around the seed heads of the cotton plant
  • Linen is made from the flax or linseed plant
  • Jute is often called Hessian and is also known as Burlap in the USA and is from a plant in the same genus as flax
  • Bamboo is rapidly becoming an eco-friendly alternative to cotton due to its sustainability, absorbency and softness
  • Lyocell is a fabric made from wood pulp and is also marketed under the name Tencell
  1. Synthetic (e.g. nylon or polyester)
  • Lurex is a synthetic fibre coated in metal
  • Nylon was intended as a synthetic replacement for silk
  • Polyesters are also used to make plastic bottles and other everyday plastics
  • Spandex is also known as Lycra or Elastane – it is an anagram of the word ‘expands’ referring to its stretchy nature
  1. Fabric Manufacturing
  • Acetate is used to enhance the ‘shininess’ of fabrics
  • Velvet is made on a special loom which makes two layers at the same time and is then cut in half to give its characteristic ‘pile’
  • Starching reduces stains and wrinkles
  1. Fabric Measurement
  • Thread count refers to the fineness or coarseness of a material and is measured by the number of threads per square inch or square centimetre
  • A ‘standard’ thread count is 150, good quality fabric features a thread count of over 180 and if a fabric has a thread count of over 200 it is called ‘percale’
  • Fabric weight is measured in ‘denier’ in the UK and USA.  It is based on silk and is the mass in grams per 9000 metres of filament
  • Microfiber is a fabric of less than 1 denier
  • An alternative measuring system is used in Canada and Europe called Tex which is measured on the mass in grams of a single filament per 1000 metres
  1. Fabric History
  • Linen is labour intensive to make but prized for its coolness and freshness in hot weather and can be traced back as far as 5000BC
  • Wood block printing to create patterned fabrics can be traced back to Chine C. 200AD
  • Spinning wheels have been around in India since 500-1000AD

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