We encounter various types of fabrics every day. Generally, fabrics can be broadly classified as natural fabrics and synthetic fabrics based on the type of fibers they are derived from. Natural fabrics are preferred and distinguished in all industries, although they may be slightly more expensive compared to synthetic fabrics. The fibers that make up these fabrics can always be obtained from natural sources such as plants and animals. For example, cotton is obtained from the cotton plant, silk is obtained from the cocoon of silkworms, and wool is obtained from sheep and other animals. On the other hand, synthetic fabrics are fabrics made from artificial fibers or human-made.
Natural Fabrics or Fibers
Natural fibers are fibers made from natural materials that come from plants, animals, or minerals. The raw and natural materials are spun into yarns and threads, which are then woven or knitted into natural fabrics. There are two general categories of natural fibers: animal fibers or plant fibers. Animal fibers include silk and wool, while plant fibers include cotton, linen, and jute.
Difference between Natural and Synthetic Fabrics
Natural fabrics like wool, cotton, cashmere, and silk are made from fibers produced by animals and plants. On the other hand, synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic are man-made fibers created in laboratories. Each has different uses and specific advantages depending on their purpose.
Advantages of Using Natural Fabrics
Natural fabrics are known for several different advantages. In general, natural fabrics are durable and more environmentally friendly. Some of the key advantages are:
- Absorbency: Natural fabrics have an incredible ability to absorb, as plant and animal fibers have a strong affinity for water. This makes natural fibers a great choice for bed sheets and towels, where absorption is an important factor for drying surfaces and regular use.
- Environmentally Friendly: Natural fabrics typically have a lower environmental impact compared to synthetic fabrics as they do not use many chemicals in the production process. However, some fibers used to make fabrics may require more water during production.
- Durability: Due to the composition of cellulose, which is derived from natural materials, most plant fibers are very strong, making natural fabrics highly durable compared to others.
Types of Natural Fabrics
The most widely used natural fabric globally, with Egyptian cotton being one of the most famous and finest varieties. Cotton fabric is extensively used in the fashion industry, both in flat fabrics and woven garments, as well as in home textiles. It is also blended with other natural and synthetic fibers such as artificial silk, polyester, and elastane. Cotton fabrics are comfortable, soft, have good heat conduction, and high absorbency. However, cotton tends to shrink, making it prone to wrinkles and fading.
Silk is one of the most luxurious fabrics, known for its high cost, lightweight, shine, and softness. It is a protein-based fiber produced by silkworms that feed on mulberry leaves. Silk is primarily used in high-quality textile production, producing exquisite accessories, home decor elements, and luxurious clothing.
Wool is a lightweight, soft, strong, and long-lasting fabric. It is resistant to wrinkles and absorbs moisture and sweat, providing warmth in cold weather. Wool is widely used in the carpet industry, blankets, and woolen clothing.
Linen is one of the strongest natural plant fibers. Common varieties include ordinary linen and long-lasting linen. It is a fabric with high mechanical resistance, low elasticity, and easily wrinkles. Linen becomes softer with washing, absorbs and releases moisture quickly, and is an excellent thermal conductor. It is used in clothing production for warm regions and is known for its fresh and comfortable feel, symbolizing summer fashion elegance.
Jute is one of the strongest natural plant fibers and the cheapest to produce. It comes second in terms of production volume after cotton. Jute has poor absorbency, deteriorates quickly when exposed to moisture, has low thermal conductivity, but possesses insulation and anti-static properties. Jute is used as a complementary material in textile and footwear industries, as well as in home textiles.
Sisal is a stiff and non-flexible natural fiber used in the fashion industry. Currently, sisal is primarily used in furniture, automotive, and maritime industries and is often blended with other materials. It is also used in small proportions and in combination with other fibers to manufacture home decor accessories.
Cashmere wool, sometimes known as pashmina, is a natural fiber produced from cashmere goats. It is known for its fine, strong, lightweight, and soft characteristics. Cashmere is an expensive fiber used to create extremely warm clothing due to its excellent thermal properties. It is used to produce high-quality sweaters, shawls, scarves, and the strongest cashmere is used in the production of high-quality blankets and carpets.
Angora is a natural animal fiber derived from Angora rabbits. The soft, white hair of Angora rabbits consists of hollow fibers classified as wool. Angora is known for its silky, delicate, and soft properties, with high water absorption and fast drying. It is used primarily in the production of woven garments such as sweaters, woolen jackets, and fashion accessories for the winter season. Angora is also mixed with wool to create greater density and flexibility in the fabric, especially for suits and jackets.
9- Hemp Fabric
Hemp fabric is a natural fabric similar to linen obtained from the stem of the hemp plant. It has the ability to absorb dyes adequately and provides UV protection. It is also highly resistant to dirt and has natural antibacterial properties. Hemp is often blended with cotton, linen, silk, wool, adding softness and increasing strength and durability in the fabric. Hemp has diverse applications in products such as shoes, furniture, clothing, accessories, curtains, towels, and more.