Knowing Your Fabrics: The Difference between Natural and Synthetic Fabrics
In the market today, there are mainly three categories of fabrics, natural, synthetic and blends. Natural fibers are made from natural sources, synthetic fibers are produced through chemical means and blended fabrics are combination of both natural and synthetic fibers. Each type of fabrics has their benefits and their drawbacks. Understanding them will allow you determine the type of fabric best suited for your project.
Natural Fabrics Natural fibers are fibers made from either plants or animals. Produced from renewable sources, these fibers are more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Furthermore, they are easier to sew on in comparison with synthetic fabrics. Common examples of natural fabrics are cotton, linen, wool, and silk.
Fabric such as wool and silk are produced from animals such as sheep, alpacas, and silkworms. Some other animals are goats, camels, and rabbits. Fur and cashmere are also some examples of natural fiber fabrics made from animals. The cotton plant is considered the most common plant used in the production of natural fabrics. The flax plant is another commonly used plant, a common resource in the production of linen.
Bamboo fabrics are becoming an increasingly more popular natural fabric. However, the fabric has been surrounded by quite a bit of controversy. This is because the process in which bamboo fibers undergo in order to turn the fiber’s rough texture into a soft material involves multiple caustic chemicals. We will be looking into more about bamboo fabrics in a future article.
Synthetic Fabrics Synthetic fibers are man-made products that are created through a chemical process. The most prominent synthetic fabric is polyester. However, spandex, acetate, and nylon are also common fabrics.
An advantage that synthetic fabrics have is that they are much more durable than their natural counterparts. But these fabrics can be tricky to sew on.
Blended Fabrics As mention above, blended fabrics are fabric with a mixture of natural and synthetic fabrics. By blending two types of fabrics together, it allows manufacturers to achieve a specific feel or look in a fabric.
For example, some natural fibers can feel rough on the skin but they have properties to help retain heat. By mixing these fibers and synthetic fibers can give the final fabric a combination of the qualities of both fibers. The synthetic fiber can help to improve the fabric comfort and durable, as well as altering the appearance of the product.
Blended fabrics are generally considered easier to manage and take care of compared to pure natural or synthetic fabrics.