How Fabrics are Made & the Different Methods
Pervious, we discussed the three main categories of fabrics. Natural, synthetic and blended fabrics are all made in similar ways. Fabrics are woven, nonwoven or knitted. Woven fabrics are the most durable, nonwoven fabrics are usually the least expensive, and knit fabrics are the most comfortable to wear.
Woven fabrics are made by crossing fibers over each other in a pattern (weave). There are three different types of weaves used in woven fabrics — plain, twill, and satin. There are variations to each that create a different appearance. Muslin, poplin, and taffeta are examples of common woven fabrics.
Plain-wave fabrics are yarns are arranged in a simple criss-cross pattern. This results in a fabric that is strong and hard-wearing. Hence it is use commonly in fashion and furnishing.
Twill-weave fabrics are made by weave yarn over each other in a diagonal pattern, giving the fabric a distinctive look. An example is the jacket on the right. The fabric is strong and has a good drape. Commonly, it is used for jeans, jackets and curtains.
Satin-weave fabrics are a series of yarn weaved in a complex arrangement that results in longer float threads throughout the fabric. This longer float threads allows light to reflect of the surface of the fabric, giving the fabric a smooth, shinny and lustrous look.
Nonwoven fabrics are created by binding fibers together in a synthetic process or with glue. This type of fabric is generally not very strong. Nonwoven fabrics can be made through either bonding or felting.
Bonding is the process of bonding together webs of fabrics using heat or adhesives. This fabrics are cheap to produce however are weaker than woven or knitted fabrics. The fabric good qualities are that it is easy to sew, crease resistant, do not fray and are stable when washing and dry cleaning. They are mainly used for interlining.
Felting is the process of using moisture, heat and pressure to mat together animal hair or wool fibers. This type of fabric have little strength drape or elasticity. However, it is warm and does not fray. An example of this fabric would be wool felt.
Knit fabrics are made by looping fibers around each other in a chain. This gives knit fabrics the ability to stretch, which makes a more comfortable fabric to wear. Both natural and synthetic fabrics can be found in knit variations. There are lots of different knit styles but we will be focusing on two, weft-knitted fabrics and warp-knitted fabrics.
Weft-knitted fabric is made by looping together long lengths of yarn. The yarn runs in rows across the fabric. If a stitch is dropped it will ladder down the length of the fabric. This type of fabric can be made by hand or machine. The fabric is stretchy and comfortable and is used for socks, T-shirts and jumpers.
Warp-knitted fabric the loops interlock vertically along the length of the fabric. Warp knits are slightly stretchy and do not ladder. Warp-knitted are normally machine made. This fabric is commonly for swimwear, underwear and geotextiles.