Know Your Fabrics - Part 3

1. What are the dyeing and printing done on the fabric?

Fabric can be dyed with Chemical dyes or Natural Dyes. Natural dyeing is done using dyes sourced from plants and other natural sources like barks, leaves, roots, seeds and soil. They are used to dye silk and cotton sarees, with only alum as a mordant. The side effects of chemicals in the dye process are avoided by using natural dyes.

Designs and motifs on the fabric may be as a result of weaving with colored thread or as a result of printing done after the fabric is made. Yarn made designs are qualitatively better than printed ones. 

2. Are the fibers of the fabric strong and resilient?

This indicates the durability of the fabric. When you use force on your fabric does it tear easily? Some fabrics will never ever. Say a polyester fabric – you have to use knife on it to tear. But some cotton fabric can tear with some ketchup spilled.

The strength of the fabric may be dependent on the type of yarns and the thickness of the warp and weft yarns.

A fabric is said to be resilient when the fabric can spring back to its original shape after being twisted, crushed, wrinkled, or distorted in any way. Wool, Polyester, Nylon are highly resilient fabrics.

3. What kind of finishes does a fabric have?

Fabric is given finishes to change its appearance and functionality. Waterproofing, Stain free, Wrinkle free, to name a few. Many of the finishes are patented by companies who invented them and have exclusive rights to use them.

4. Will the fabric absorb moisture?

This is the quality of the fabric that makes you comfortable as you wear it. Imagine wearing a dress that gives a sticky feeling when you sweat. It is the ability of fabric to take in moisture. Cotton and other natural fabrics are highly absorbent.

Wick-ability is the ability of a fiber to transport moisture away from the skin. This is an important property in active wear.

5. How good is the durability of the fabric?

This is dependent on the ability of the fiber to bend with minimal force. The fluid quality of a fabric is important in fashion designing. Usually thin and lightweight fabrics are very drape-able, but not always. Fabric cut on the bias has a good drape.

6. What is the hand of the fabric?

This refers to the fabric texture – the way it feels as you run a hand on top of the fabric. The type of fiber used, the weave of the yarns, finishing used on the surface, all can have an effect on the type of hand your fabric has.

7. Does the fabric stretch?

A fabric is said to have elasticity and is stretchable when it is made of fibers that will stretch when you pull it. When you release it, it will go back to the same position it was in earlier. Knit fabrics stretch a lot but this also depends on the type of knit. Low quality knits will overstretch if not maintained well.

8. Does the fabric shrink?

Minimizing shrinkage in fabrics has been a goal for textile manufacturers for years. In some fabrics like cotton the fabric weave will draw tighter after a wash. Preshrinking is a must for new fabrics before they are made to clothes so that the fabric would not shrink after use and look distorted. These kinds of fabrics are known as shrinkable fabrics.

Some fabrics come preshrunk from the bolt. They are processed so at the manufacturing unit and there is no need of preshrinking at home.