Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fabric 101: Fun With Fibers [Part 1]

Welcome to Fabric 101! This is a five part series I will be posting that discusses the mystery that is fabric. As a fashion major (and someone who worked in a sewing shop), I have met many people who are confused about what fabric is made of, how to take care of it, or even the difference between woven and knit fabric. Once I took a textiles class, I felt so empowered purchasing clothing and understanding how to take care for it properly, and I wanted to share this knowledge with you!

Before I jump in, I want to say that this is not, by any means, a comprehensive look at all that goes into fabric. I get really excited about this stuff, and am going to do my best not to ramble. Without further ado...

Today we begin with what makes fabric - fibers!


Fiber comes in two forms: filament and staple  

Filament fibers = continuous strands of yarn.
Staple fibers = short bits of fiber spun together to create a long strand of yarn.

This information will be important as we start talking about the differences in natural and man-made fibers!
(image from globalspec.com)


Below is a handy "fiber family tree" I put together of the main fibers seen in everyday clothing. Fibers can be all classified under these two groups. Natural fibers have been used to create clothing since the beginning of time, where man-made fibers are less than 200 years old!

Note: You will see that I separated out the specialty use fibers. Aside from spandex, the majority of people will not use these fibers, so I will not discuss them in detail.


At this point you might be confused and/or bored. But trust me, all this background information is necessary when we delve deeper into the different fabrics. Next post will discuss natural fibers, what their similarities and differences are, and I'll even throw in a fun fact (or two).