The Fabric Feel and Behaviour Beyond Fibre Types

The feel and behaviour of fabric can greatly influence our comfort and satisfaction with the clothes we wear. While the type of fibre used is important, other factors also play a significant role in determining the overall quality of the fabric. Let’s explore some of these factors in detail:

Fibre Blends:

Clothing manufacturers have long recognised the benefits of blending different fibres. Not only does this often reduce production costs, but it can also enhance the fabric’s feel, appearance, and durability while making care easier. 

One common blend is cotton and polyester. Cotton offers softness and breathability, but is prone to shrinkage and wrinkles. Polyester, on the other hand, is durable and resistant to shrinkage and wrinkles. Blending these two fibres results in a fabric that combines the best of both worlds – the comfort of cotton with the durability of polyester.

Another example is the blend of nylon and wool. While wool has excellent moisture-wicking properties and acts as a natural insulator, it can sometimes feel coarse and scratchy. Blending it with nylon retains the benefits of wool while improving the fabric’s feel and durability.

Additionally, blends such as polyester and wool can make wool garments washable, while blends of polyester and cotton produce more affordable and crease-resistant fabrics, especially when elastane is added for stretch recovery.

Fabric Weight:

Fabric weight refers to the amount of material per unit area and is important for selecting the right fabric for different purposes. It is determined by factors like yarn count and thread count density. Fabrics with higher yarn counts tend to be lighter, while those with lower yarn counts are heavier.

Understanding fabric weight is essential for choosing appropriate fabrics for various applications. For example, lightweight fabrics may be preferred for summer clothing as they offer breathability and comfort, while heavier fabrics may be more suitable for winter garments for added warmth and insulation.

Finishing Treatments:

Finishing treatments can significantly alter the properties of a fabric. Mercerising, for instance, involves treating cotton fabric with a strong soda solution, which swells and shrinks the fibres, improving wash shrinkage, strength, absorbency, and softness. This process can be done before or after bleaching, depending on the desired outcome.

Waterproof treatments are another common finishing treatment. These coatings create a protective barrier against water and other liquids, making the fabric water-resistant. However, they can reduce breathability and may break down over repeated washings or use.

In conclusion, various factors beyond just the type of fibre used can influence how a fabric feels and behaves. Understanding these factors can help consumers make more informed decisions when selecting fabrics for their clothing and other textile products. 

This concludes my mini-series on guides to buying fabrics, you can check out the rest of the series here. Bobbins & Buttons also sells a wide range of fabrics and patterns, feel free to have a look for fabrics for your next project.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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