An explanation of the types of materials and various techniques that we use in the industry. The first part includes most of the common natural fibres we use and additionally the most common of the synthetic ones.
a. Natural fibres from plants or animals
Alpaca is primarily a term applied to the wool of the Peruvian alpaca - type of lama. It is, however, more broadly applied to a style of fabric originally made from alpaca fibre but now frequently made from a similar type of fibre. The hair of the animals is soft, very fine, crimped and is used to make very good quality woolen products
Angora refers to the hair of the Angora rabbit, bred in Europe and East Asia or the fabric made from Angora rabbit fur, which is a very fine light hair. It is very warm and feels similar to fur. It is usually blended with wool to give elasticity. The blend decreases the softness and lowers the price.
Camel The fibre of camel hair. It is classified as a specialty hair fibre with thermostatic qualities. It is often mixed with wool. The product is of very high quality and highly effective worn in cold temperatures. There are other fibres that can substitute camel hair.
Cashmere wool product is the fine, dehaired, undercoat fibres of the cashmere goat. (See details in Shawls history- Kashmir). It is very soft, smooth and is known to be one of the most expensive natural fibres. The cashmere twill cloth is often mixed with silk, wool, angora or other natural fibres.
Cotton is a soft fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant. Generally it is spun into thread and used to make soft, breathable textiles. It is considered the most important natural fibre for textiles. It can be treated in a range of different processes, as it is easy to dye and wash. It is also one of the most pleasant fabrics to wear.
Flax natural fibre is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fibre but less elastic. The best qualities are used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting.
Linen is a natural material of the flax plant, made from the many fibres stuck together. Linen fabric is ideal for summer clothes and accessories. It is absorbent, cool, washable and fresh to wear.
Merino is the Spanish name for a breed of sheep, and hence applied to a woolen fabric.
Mohair is a silk-like fibre made from the hair of the Angora goat. It is one of the oldest textile fibres in use. It is curly, durable, light and warm but itchy. It is also more expensive than sheep’s wool.
Silk is a natural protein fibre that can be woven into textiles. It is obtained from the cocoon of the silkworm larva, in the process known as sericulture. Silk fabrics make the most luxurious and elegant products. It is produced in many countries, China, India,Thailand to name a few and is treated in many different ways.
Wool is the natural fibre derived from the hair of domesticated animals, usually sheep. Wool has qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur, it is crimped and elastic.
b. Synthetic and chemical fibres
Cellulose this fibre when processed makes cellophane, rayon, and more recently Modal, a textile derived from beech wood cellulose.
Lurex refers to all metallic yarns. Made from polyester, it is covered with aluminium. Usually it is silver but it can also be found in different colours by adding synthetic resins. It is used in the textile industry to give a special effect and its name is patented.
Polyacryl is a synthetic chemical fibre similar to wool. It can be mixed with wool to lower the cost in knitted products, shawls, pullovers etc.
Polyamid is a synthetic chemical fibre used in clothes, underwear and sports clothes. It has good elasticity and resistance.
Polyester is a synthetic chemical fibre, that can be mixed with cotton and silk. It is mostly used in lower priced clothes.
Rayon is a transparent fibre made of processed cellulose. Cellulose fibres from wood or cotton are dissolved in alkali to make a solution called viscose.
Spandex or elastane is a synthetic fibre known for its exceptional elasticity (stretchability). It is stronger and more durable than rubber, its major plant competitor. It was invented in 1959 by DuPont, and when first introduced it revolutionized many areas of the clothing industry. The name "spandex" is an anagram of the word "expands".
Viscose is an artificial cellulose-based polymer, the most important of the cellulose chemical fibres. Its chemical composition is similar to cotton and it is easy to print and dye. Sometimes used as a synonym for Rayon.
B. MATERIALS & TECHNIQUES
Cheesecloth is a loose woven cotton cloth traditionally used in pressing cheese curds. It is also a material used to manufacture light garments such as shawls.
Chiffon is a sheer fabric made of silk or rayon. Very light and delicate.
Crepe (crepe de Chine) is a silk fabric of a gauzy texture, having a peculiar crisp or crimpy (crepe in French) appearance.
Embroidery is an ancient variety of decorative needlework in which designs and pictures are created by stitching strands of some material on to a layer of another material. Nowadays due to high costs machine embroidery is often used. We also use beads.
Gauze a very light, sheer, fine woven fabric.
Georgette is a very thin, veil like, woven fabric. Similar to gauze with a crepe effect.
Muslin ( Mousseline) is a type of finely woven cotton or silk fabric, introduced to Europe from the Middle East in the 17th century. It was named for the city where it was first made, Mosul (Iraq).
Organza is a thin, plain weave, sheer fabric traditionally made from silk, the continuous filament of silkworms. Nowadays, though many organzas are woven with synthetic filament fibres such as polyester or nylon, the most luxurious organzas are still woven in silk.
Patchwork is a form of needlework or craft that involves sewing together small pieces of fabric and stitching them together into a larger design, which is then usually quilted, or else tied together with pieces of yarn at regular intervals. The latter practice is known as tying. Patchwork is traditionally 'pieced' by hand, but modern quilt makers often use a sewing machine instead.
Percale refers to a closely woven, high thread count, very light cotton fabric.
Qalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed traditional textile.
Sheer is a semi-transparent and flimsy cloth.
Spinning is the process of creating yarn (or thread, rope, cable) from various raw fibre materials.
Taffeta is a type of silk fabric, often used for accessories and dresses.
Tulle is a netting, which is often starched. It is made of various fibres including silk, nylon, and rayon and is most commonly used for veils, gowns (particularly wedding gowns) and ballet costumes.
Twill is a type of fabric woven with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. It is made by passing the weft threads over one warp thread and then under two or more warp threads. Examples of twill fabric are gabardine, tweed and serge.