Know Your Fabrics - Part 1

Fabrics have always been and shall remain a part of our lives. But do we know what they are made of, how they are made and how does one distinguish between a fabric of good quality from an inferior one?

Fabric is a generic term used for the material made from yarn, a continuous strand of textile fibers or filaments (natural and synthetic), used to make clothes, accessories and home furnishings. It is made by various methods like weaving, knitting, knotting, chemically using gluing, bonding or melting together and mechanically tangling the fibers together.

The questions to be asked to find out whether we are buying the good quality fabric.

There are some pertinent questions that you ought to ask about fabric – they range from complex to simple – but all of them are relevant in one way or the other and will affect the appearance, strength and many other desirable qualities that you will be looking for in your fabric.

1. What fiber is the fabric made of? 

Fabric is made from yarn which is made from different kinds of fibers. It could be silk sarees, cotton sarees, wool or rayon or any other. Fibers could be made from a single particular fiber e.g. cotton, or it could be a blend e.g. Polycotton or Polycot. Fiber is the building block of your fabric.

2What types of yarns are there in the fabric and how are they spun?

Fabric is either fine or coarse depending on the type, thickness and density of its yarns. The yarn may be classified as spun yarns (made from short, staple fibers) or filament yarns (made from continuous filament fibers). Very fine cotton fabric is made of spun cotton yarn that has been combed to remove short fibers.

3. How is cotton yarn weight measured?

 Cotton yarn weight is measured by the term ‘yarn number’ or yarn count. This is the number of hanks of yarn needed to make up one pound of yarn.  Higher the yarn number thinner the yarn, and consequently thinner and finer the fabric.

4How is Polyester yarn measured?

Polyester yarn is measured by the term denier. This indicates weight, in grams, of a 9000-meter length of yarn. Lower the denier finer the yarn.

5. Why is yarn twisted?

The twist of the yarns used in the fabric can change the feel of the fabric and its appearance. Well twisted yarns are stronger and will wear better than uneven, loosely twisted yarns. Twist can increase fineness, strength and the elasticity of the yarn. Most of the yarns used in the woven fabric have an average twist but some fabrics like crepe are made with yarns with high twists. But a filament yarn without many twists can make the fabric appear smoother.

6Does the direction of twist matter?

The direction of the Twist in the yarn (clockwise S twist or counterclockwise Z twist) can affect how light bounces off the fabric.

                                                                                                   ...To be continued