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Joy Jordan, Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist and Tiffany Browning 4-H Project Coordinator, Department of Family, Youth & Community Sciences.

Know Fibers and Fabrics!

Know the generic names of man-made fibers. These are approved and assigned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Too frequently a fiber is referred to by a trademark or brand name instead of the generic name.

Types of Fabrics
There are two basic types
1. Natural (from plants and animals)

2. Manufactured (from chemicals)

Wo ol S ilk Ramie


P rotein
An o g ra Mh o air



Acetate Ray n o S lfar u PI B L astrile M etallic

Lo y cell

G lass A n zlo * A ram Ai n A c

This chart classifies

Md o acry lic V i Nv o alid * V in Triacetate Nlo y n S an p d Ntril* y S aran fibers into natural and man-made. O lffin P ly o ester

When selecting fabric or a garment you want to inspect
Performance How to Care for the fabric.

Texture Characteristics
Texture is determined by the way fabric is constructed and the type of yarn used.
Every fabric has its own feel,

look, and sound.

The hand of a fabric is its weight,

thickness, and how the fabric drapes.

Color Characteristics
Color can be introduced at many stages.

When color is introduced depends on the fiber content and the intended

end use.

Dyeing methods include: Fiber Dyed before yarn spinning Yarn Dyed Fabric Dyed (also called Piece dyeing) Garment Dyed (also called Product dyeing).

Printing Color
Printing methods include: Direct Dyeing (directly adds color to the fabric in
the pattern desired by a stamp or roller) Discharge Printing (where the fabric is dyed, then a chemical is used to remove color) Resist Printing (when color is prevented from entering a piece of fabric such as batik, tie-dye, or screen printing) Stencil Printing (is when a design is cut from thin metal sheets)
Jet Printing (which uses a continuous stream of dye that is forced through jets to color the fibers.

Colorfastness refers to the durability and

performance of the fabric color. destroyed are:

Ways that color may be changed or

Crocking (the rubbing of color from fabric). Bleeding (fading or loss of color in water). Migration (when color shifts from one area of a

printed fabric to another). Frosting (localized change or loss in color caused by abrasion during wear or cleaning). Fading (loss of color by sunlight, perspiration, washing, or bleaching).

Colorfast Tests
To determine if crocking will occur use a white cloth

or white paper towel and rub lightly to see if the color rubs off. This test can be done with a dry cloth and a wet cloth. temperatures will tell you if the fabric is colorfast to water. in a bowl of water at varying temperatures will tell you in the color will transfer to other parts of the fabric.

Placing fabric in a bowl of water and using varying

To test if migrating will occur placing a printed fabric

To see if a garment is faded check the shoulders of

garments in retail stores to see if any color has been lost.

Comfort Characteristics
Absorbency is the ability of fiber to take up moisture

from the body or environment. This fabric is more comfortable to wear. without being absorbed. water loving fiber.

Wicking is the ability of water to travel along a fiber

Hydrophobic is water hating fiber, and Hygroscopic is

How breatheable a fabric is relates to how

comfortable it will be. To test if a fabric is breatheable hold it up and breathe through it. If you cannot feel your breath on the other side it is not.

Care Characteristics
Dimensional stability the tendency of

fabric to maintain its original shape and size. Residual shrinkage is when fabric decreases in size after washing or dry cleaning. Preshrunk means that a fabric has gone through a preshrinking treatment. spring back after crushing or wrinkling. To conduct a wrinkle recovery test crush the fabric in your hand and find out if the fabric wrinkles a lot of not at all. Some fabrics will recover and others will not.

Resiliency- is the ability of a fabric to

Care Characteristics

Heat Sensitive - refers to the sensitivity of fibers to heat such as an iron. Natural fibers (cotton, linen, ramie, silk, and wool) are not as

heat sensitive as man-made fibers (acetate, rayon, polyester, nylon, and acrylic). Lighter weight fabrics will be more heat sensitive than heavier and more closely woven or knitted fabrics.

A test to determine if a fabric is heat sensitive is to press with a cool iron and gradually increase the heat until the fabric begins to crinkle or change color. (use scrap fabric for this test.)

Fabric Durability and Performance Characteristics

Tensile (fabric) strength the breaking

of yarns. Strong yarns have a high tensile strength. Abrasion the surface wearing of fabric due to rubbing or friction. Pilling little balls of fibers caused by abrasion and wearing. Tenacity the stress required to break a fiber. Elasticity the ability to recover original size and shape after stress. Flexibility the ability of a yarn to bend without breaking.


A fabric finish is any treatment to the fiber, yarn, or fabric which changes the appearance and behavior of the fabric.

to increase the aesthetic value either by appearance, hand, or drape; and 2. to increase the functional value or its serviceability.

The purpose of a finish is:

Fabric Finishes
Fabric finishes may be: Temporary these type of finishes will last
only until the first washing or dry cleaning. Durable these finishes will last through several washings or dry cleanings. Permanent these type of finishes will last the life of the fabric.

Types of Finishes

These are a few of the most common finishes, the hangtag or garment label should tell you if the fabric has been finished.

Abrasion Resistant Absorbent Anti-Bacterial Anti-Static Calendering Crease-Resistant FireResistant/Retardan t Fire-Proof

Permanent Press/

Durable Press Sanforizing Sizing Soil Release Spot and Stain-Resistant Water Repellent Waterproof



BASTISTE a soft, sheer fabric, usually made of cotton and used for blouses, dresses, and nightwear. BROCADE is a jacquard weave with raised designs and contrasting surfaces. Can also be woven from silk, or man-made fibers and is used for upholstery and evening wear. CHARMEUSE is a satin with a crepe back sometimes called crepe-backed satin. DAMASK jacquard woven fabrics of various fiber content. Can be wool, silk, linen, rayon, acetate, worsted wool. Floral or geometric patterns are reversible. Note: Damask tends to be 2 sidedreversible and one color. Brocade is a jacquard that has a colored, contrasting pattern.

FAILLE A ribbed fabric with a low luster. Heavier yarns are used in the filling or weft. Example of faille is grosgrain. Silk faille has wider ribs than seen in grosgrain ribbon and is slightly glossy.
WORSTED FLANNEL It is a twill weave that is very closely woven, much more so than the wool flannels. It can have a very slight nap on one side of the fabric. Also unlike the wool flannels, it presses well and holds a hard crease. GEORGETTE a sheer silk or synthetic fiber, heavier than chiffon and with the same pebbly surface of crepe but with the sheerness of chiffon. It is used for dressy clothing.

HOMESPUN is a loose, strong, durable cotton or woolen plain weave fabric. The fabric is heavy and unravels easily. It is used in dresses, skirts and in jackets. LAWN is a plain weave, soft, very light, combed cotton fabric with a crisp finish. ORGANZA is similar to cotton organdy except it is made with silk or rayon and is transparent. PIQUE Double cloth with two warps (one heavy, one fine) and two wefts or fillings (one heavy, one fine). Often described by appearance, when woven of cotton, as birds-eye pique, spiral pique and pigskin pique. Warpwise wale fabric often seen in the US is actually considered Bedford cord, not pique.

PLISSE A cotton fabric that has been chemically shrunk in stripes, creating a rippled effect. In French, means crinkled or pleated. SAILCLOTH is a very strong, heavy canvas or duck made in plain weave.
SERGE a sturdy, twill-weave fabric with a diagonal rib on both sides; can be made of wool, silk or rayon. It is used in suits.


CAMEL HAIR This fabric is made from hair from a camel, sometimes blended with wool or imitated in wool. It is woven in the twill or plain patterns. The underhair is best because it is light weight, lustrous and soft. It has quite a long nap and is very warm. The wool camel hair is not as lustrous and may be spongy, however it wears better when blended. CASHMERE The fibers come from the kashmir goat found in Kashmire India, Tibet, Iran, Iraq and South West China. Often mixed with wool or synthetics to cut costs and improve the wear. It is a very soft silky finish and is light weight. It is more like wool than any other hair fiber. It is used in sweaters, coats, and suits.

GLEN CHECKS are usually seen in menswear and originated in Scotland. It is characterized by a variety of small, even check designs. HARRIS TWEED is a hand woven fabric from Scotland with a soft feel. HERRINGBONE WOOL is woven in a twill that is reversed at regular spacing, creating a sawtooth line. HOUNDSTOOTH CHECK has a four pointed star check in a broken twill weave.

MOHAIR is hair from the angora goat, but may have some cotton warp blend. Imitation mohair is made from wool or other blends. Angora goat is one of the oldest animals known to man and its hair is two and a half times stronger than wool. There is a smooth, glossy and

SILK DOUPION is reeled from double cocoons nested together. The threads are uneven and irregular. Italian Doupion is the finest, followed by Chinese Doupion and Indian Doupion. Doupion is also seen in man-made fibers such as polyester, acetate and referred to as doupionni. Silk Doupion is most often found in mens and womens fine suits and also dresses in lighter weight silk Doupion.
PEAU DE SOIE is a stout, soft silk with fine cross ribs. Looks slightly corded. Also called paduasoy. Poult de siue is sometimes called faille taffeta. It has heavy cross ribs. PONGEE SILK is a plain woven, thin, naturally tan silk fabric that has a rough weave effect.


SILK SHANTUNG is a dupionni type of silk that comes from the Shantung Province of China.
TUSSAH SILK (tussah means wild) is a plain weave silk fabric from wild silk worms. It has irregular thick and thin yarns creating uneven surface and color. Wild silkworms feed on leaves other than mulberry leaves. Tussah silk is similar to shantung, with silk from the wild. Color is often uneven; usually referred to as raw silk.