What Makes a Fabric
To orientate in fabrics it is good idea to make difference between two main things- what the fiber is and how it is woven or knitted.
The fibers can be natural or man-made/synthetic. Natural fibers are cotton, linen, silk, wool. Some of the man-made are polyester, nylon, rayon, acetate. Knowing this helps to determine fabric’s characteristics. Natural fibers are know for their nice feel and breath-ability, but they crease easily. Some good sides to synthetic are durability and that they are more crease and stain resistant. Sometimes blend is a good compromise.
Fiber can be woven in many ways. Here are some types:
- Chiffon-light and sheer fabric
- Crepe-slightly crinkled, grain surface
- Satin- lustrous, shiny fabric from one side. The weave is 1 to 4 that makes the shine
- Taffeta- crisp tightly woven fabric
- Twill- diagonal parallel ribs, the weave goes over and under over 1 or more threads and there is an offset between the rows.
- Brocade- decorative, with raised texture
Some of these have sub categories with different softness, thickness, tension and feel. Sometimes they can also be stretch.
Most common knitted fabric is jersey.
Difference between woven an knit is that woven has fibers crossing each other. There is warp and weft. In a knit it is one continues thread.
To sum this up, with the two indicators- the fiber and the make-we can specify fabrics better. It can be polyester satin, silk satin, cotton satin, silk twill, cotton twill, silk jersey, cotton jersey etc. There are more factors that could be added, for example finish- a die or a wash. For example denim-a cotton twill can come in various-various finishes.
Without going too much into details I hope this has brought some light to the complicated world of fabric names and identities.