Fabrics can be made from different types of fibres, both man made and natural which gives them their properties and determines how they will behave. Fabrics can be woven (the most common type – think of quilting cottons, linens and more besides), non-woven – such as felt and knitted too – all of which will affect their weight, stretchiness and how they behave generally.
Natural fibres can be easily divided into those of animal and plant origin. Animal derived fibres include wool, silk, alpaca and cashmere. These are wrinkle resistant and breathable too. There are three kinds of plant based fibres – extracted from three different parts of the plant – its fruit, stems or leaves. Think of cotton and linen, coconut, jute, hemp and bamboo.
Manmade Fibres also fall into different categories. Some are “regenerated natural polymers” such as rayon and viscose are extracted from plant materials such as wood pulp. Synthetic polymers such as acrylic and polyester come from petroleum oil.
Woven Fabrics are formed from two groups of threads at right angles to each other – the lengthwise warp and the widthwise weft.
Non Woven Fabrics are fray-resistant, won’t stretch and can easily be cut to any shape you require (which makes them great for children and beginner stitchers). They include fabrics such as felt and fleece which are created by working together woollen fibres.
Knit Fabrics are formed by threads that are looped around each other giving the fabric its stretch and elasticity. Double knit fabric is two of these layers combined in a single fabric giving it more thickness and strength but less elasticity. Knit fabrics are almost crease free and are very comfortable to wear.
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