Basics of Textiles | Featured | Textile Articles


Published: March 2, 2020

Food, clothing, and shelter are the basic necessities for human survival. For the making of clothing, textiles come into the picture because the basic requirements needed in clothing such as fabrics, threads, etc are part of textiles. There comes another part of textiles to make our home look more comfortable and aesthetic. Home textiles include cushion cover, bedsheets, curtains, etc. The primary use of textiles is to protect our modesty and to comfort us in a different climate. Its secondary use is to make us look better (aesthetic value)

Why know about textiles?

  • We get to know about the properties of fibers and fabrics such as the property of cotton and wool. After studying its property we got to know that cotton is suitable during summer and wool is suitable for winter.
  • We understand the origin of fabric or textile material, such as cotton is obtained from plant, wool is obtained from animal hair, silk is obtained from the silkworm 
  • It will help us distinguish quality in fabrics and make better buying choices. 

The word Textile comes from Latin word Texture – “woven” Today the word textile refers to the product made from fibers. 

Textile – Garment – Fabrics – Yarns – Fibres

Important terminologies 

  1. Fibers– It is the smallest/ Fundamental unit of textile production or the building block used in making of textile yarns and fabrics. Some fibers are short while some are long, some are scaly while some are rough, some are smooth.
  2. Staple fibers – short length fibers half an inch – 18” 
  3. Filament fibers – long and continuous length, measured in yards and meters. 
  4. Monofilament yarn– Composed of single strand rather than twisted fibers extruded to the diameter desired for the yarn.
  5. Multifilament yarn– number of individual filament are combined being held together with a twist. 
  6. Yarn – It is produced by twisting or spinning of textile fibers.
  7. Tow– Staple fibers are cut from filament extruded in large bundles. 

Primary fiber properties  

 These are essential properties that influence product use, care and behavior or performance. 

  1. High length to width ratio – Fibres must be longer than they are wide to permit processing into yarns and fabrics. 
  2. Tenacity – In order to be serviceable, all fibers must possess strength. It is required to withstand mechanical and chemical processing as well as make textile products that are durable. 

Fiber Tenacity

  • Cotton – 4.0 gm/denier
  • Silk – 4.5 gm/denier 
  • Wool – 1.5 gm/denier 
  • Rayon – 1.5-2.4 gm/denier
  • Acetate 1.2-1.5 gm/denier 
  • Nylon 4.5-5.9 gm/denier
  • Polyester 4.4-7.8 gm/denier
  • Glass – 7 gm/denier 

3. Flexibility – Fibres must be bendable, pliable or flexible if they are to be made into yarns or fabrics that can have the capacity to move with the body and should allow for the free movement and also be comfortable. A stiff fiber will make fabrics stiff which cannot be used comfortably. 

4. Cohesiveness or spinnability– It is the ability of fiber to stick together which helps in interlocking fibers while spinning.

5. Uniformity – In order to produce fine yarns, uniformity in the raw material is required. They need to be similar in length and width, in spinning quality and flexibility. 

Secondary fiber properties 

These are essential to increase consumer satisfaction with the ultimate fabric.

  1. Physical shape– It is an important factor in determining many of its properties. It includes surface contour (smooth, rough), the shape of the cross-section and width and length of the fiber.
  2. Density– The specific gravity of a fiber indicates density relative to that of water. All textile fibers are heavier than water except olefin fibers. Density is the relative weight of fiber as float on water. Cotton, wool fibers are heavy and nylon is comparatively lighter. A pound of wool and a pound of nylon weigh the same but the fibers are more in nylon than in wool. High-density results in heavy fabrics. Low-density results in lightweight fabrics. A lightweight fibers help the fabric to be warm without being heavy.
  3. Colour – Natural fibers are white or nearly black. Cotton fibers range from creamy off white to grey, wool with off-white to nearly black and silk in white. Man-made fibers are maybe pure white. 
  4. Lustre– It is the gloss or shine that a fiber possesses i.e amount of light reflected. Silk has a high luster and cotton has a low luster. Tio2 is added during spinning to control luster.
  5. Absorbancy– Generally, textile fibers have a certain amount of water as an integral part of the fiber. Most of the textile fibers are naturally hygroscopic (i.e they pick up moisture from the air) But the number of moisture fibers absorbs may differ. Absorbancy is the ability to take in moisture and moisture regain is the % of moisture a bone-dry fiber will absorb from air under standard conditions of temperature and moisture. Fibers that absorb water easily are known as hydrophilic (water-loving) fibers. Fibers that have difficulty in absorbing water are known as hydrophobic fibers. The natural protein and vegetable fibers, rayon and acetate are hydrophilic fibers. Many synthetic fibers are hydrophobic in nature. The absorbancy of glass fiber is ‘0’. The absorbancy of fiber is due to hydroxyl groups present within the fiber and the amorphous molecular arrangement. The fibers having crystalline arrangements are generally hydrophobic.
  6. Elasticity and elastic recovery– Elasticity is defined as the ability of fibers to return to original shape after being stretched. Elastic recovery is the ability of fibers to return from strain and is expressed in percentage. If fiber return to the original length after stretching to a specific length, it is said to have 100% elastic recovery. The amount of stretch or extension that fiber will accept is elongation. Breaking elongation is the amount of stretch a fiber undergoes to the point where it breaks. 
  7. Loft and Resiliency- Loft is the ability of a fiber to spring back to original thickness after being compressed. Resiliency is the ability of a fiber to bounce back to original shape following compression, bending or similar deformation. Wool and silk fabrics are more resilient. They can be deformed, crushed or wrinkled during wear but they come to shape upon hanging.
  8. Flammability and other thermal reactions– A fiber with good moisture absorbency will be a poor conductor of heat and electricity example cotton. All synthetic fibers shrink and melt. Cellulosic fibers keep burning and falling. Thermal characteristics influence temperature for laundering, ironing, and dry cleaning. We feel comfortable when we wear some garments and we feel hot with some other garments this is mainly due to the heat conductivity of fabrics. 
  9. Static electricity– This is electricity produced by the friction of fabric against itself or some other subject. Static electricity rapidly develops in a cold and dry atmosphere. If material comes in contact with a good conductor, a shock or transfer occurs, it may produce a spark in a gaseous atmosphere. Static electricity makes the fabric cling to the body of the wearer. It attracts most dust and thus gives an unsightly appearance. 
  10. Dimensional stability- The length and width of fabric gets changed after finishing process or after washing fabric gets shrank so it is important to have good dimensional stability of a fabric to retain the original shape.

The article was written by – Ms. Ayman Satopay. B.Sc in Textile and Apparel Design from Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College Of Home Science. Textile Value Chain intern. Email:

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