Fabrics Guide – part 1
What to choose? Wool or acrylic? Silk or polyester? There’s many different fabrics, but do you know which are the best for you? This article is a quick guide, that will help you to understand the differences between fabrics.
Let’s start from the basics. There are two basic types of fabrics:
Natural fabrics are made from the naturally occurring fibers that either come from an animal (like wool or silk) or plants (such as cotton or linen).
Natural fabrics made from plant sources:
- Misc. Plant fibers (Abaca, Banana, Pineapple)
- Other plant fibers (Abaca, Banana, Pineapple, Coconut)
Natural fabrics made from animal sources:
- Camel family: Camel, Alpaca, Llama, Vicuna
Man-made fibers consist of regenerated fibers (artificial) and synthetic fibers. Man-made or chemical fibers are fibers whose chemical composition, structure, and properties are significantly modified during the manufacturing process.
Artificial (regenerated) fibers:
Artificial fibers are made from naturally existing, raw materials usually from cellulose. The cellulose comes from various sources: tree wood fiber, beech trees, bamboo etc. In the production of these fibers, the cellulose is chemically processed, and in no way is the “plastic” material. I will write another article explaining how this process looks like.
- diacetate, triacetate
- PLA fiber (NatureWorks PLA, a corn-based polymer) – biodegradable
Synthetic come entirely from synthetic materials such as petrochemicals unlike those man-made fibers derived from such natural substances as cellulose or protein. The main ingredient used in their development is the most crude oil and its derivatives. According to reports, 30% of the world production of synthetic materials is simply a plastic bottles.
- POLYOLEFIN (Olefin, Polypropylene)
How many names on tags?
You should know that the above materials may have different names, for example you can find material called lyocell under a name tencel. Sometimes the trouble stems from the fact that manufacturers invent and bring to market more and more new types of materials. Modal is an enhanced version of rayon. In addition, it happens also that the same material is available under two names, eg. Spandex and Lycra or mentioned lyocell. The solution to this puzzle is simple. Spandex and lyocell are material names as such, while the lycra and tencel are brands or trademarks.
Different types of materials have different properties. We say that cotton is breathable and absorbs moisture and wool heats up. Three most important features of fabrics are:
hygroscopic or the ability of a material to absorb moisture from the environment, and actually our skin, which is very important from the point of view of hygiene,
flexibility, which directly affects a crease of the material; materials with high elasticity / flexibility have less tendency to wrinkle
durability of the material
In the next article Fabrics Guide – Part II I write how to choose best fabrics based on their properties.