Fabric is a term refers to any material made through weaving, knitting, crocheting, or bonding. Currently almost all fabrics are made from textile fibers, and those few that come from other sources.
Textile fibers may be placed in one or two main categories: natural or man-made. The natural fibers consist of three classes based on chemical structure: protein (animal), of which wool and silk are the best known; cellulosic (vegetable), of which cotton, linen, and jute are the most widely used; and mineral, of which asbestos is the only fiber.
The man-made fibers may be placed in one of two categories on the basis of their sensitivity to heat. The thermoplastic fibers (nylon, acetate, polyester, olefin, acrylic – soften and become pliable, or “plastic”, on contact with heat of rather low temperatures) and the non-thermoplastic (fibers-rayon, glass, metallic – do not soften or become pliable with heat at the range of temperatures encountered in homes, businesses, or most industries).
Processes of textile fibers, some are little been changed, whereas others are among the latest developments of the modern technological change. Woven, knitted, braided, net, and lace are fabrics in which have different forms of processing. These fabrics require yarns for their manufacture. To further understand how these fabrics are made, the following are some of its common processes.
Woven fabrics are produced on a loom, in which at least two sets of yarns – a warp (also called ends) and a filling (also called wet or picks) – are interlaced at right angles to each other. Three patterns of interlacing – plain, twill and satin – are considered basic, since almost all other weaves are variations of these. In the plain weave the filling (crosswise yarn) is carried over one warp (lengthwise) yarn and under the next alternately across the fabric. In the twill weave at least three yarns are required. In the simplest twill weave the filling (or warp) is carried over two warp (or filling) yarns and under the third. Each successive row progresses in a predetermined manner to produce parallel diagonal ridges on the face of the fabric. In the satin weave the filing is carried over at least four warp yarns and then under one, the over-and-under progression of the following rows being adjusted to complete a balanced pattern.
In knitting, it consists of forming loops of yarn by means of needles, then drawing a new loop through those previously formed according to a prescribed manner or pattern. Using machine knitting, a multiplicity of needles, needle holders and yarn feeds replaces the pins, hands, and fingers of the hand knitter, but the operational are essentially the same. Machine is of two types: weft, or filling, usually made on circular knitting machines, with yarns being carried out horizontally; and warp knit, made on flat-bed knitting machines, primarily for wide-width fabrics. Warp knits have separate yarns for each vertical row (wale) and require special inter-looping operations between rows.
The basic knitting stitches are plain, rib, and purl, with a variant of the rib stitch known as “interlock”. In the plain stitch, new loops are pulled through previously formed loops toward the face of the fabric, while in the purl stitch new loops are all pulled toward the back of the fabric ( hand knitting) or alternate courses of loops are pulled to opposite sides (machine knitting).
Braids in someway, are narrow fabrics made by diagonal interlacing of at least three stands of yarn of other material in such a way that individual stands form a zigzag patterns as they crisscross one another, and no two adjacent strands make complete turns about each other. Cord coverings, shoe laces, and fishing lines are typical braids, as are fancy braids that are used for trimmings.
Net is another type of fabric that is open-mesh constructed from yarns (or threads) on special bobbinet machines, raschel knitting machines, or by hand tieing.
Last of the types is lace. Lace is characterized by a decorative design on an open mesh background. It may be made on lace or embroidery machines or it may be knitted crocheted, tatted, or made by hand on “pillows”.
Aside from yarn made fabrics, non-yarn fabrics are also available. This kind of fabrics are made directly from fibers include felt, bonded non-woven, needle-punched webs, stitch-bonded sprayed fiber, and laminates. These fabrics depend on the shrinking and matting action of wool under specific conditions, on adhesives or on heat-fusing of thermoplastic fibers, napping, or other bonding methods. Such fabrics do not have a warp or a filling and lack the “give” and usually the strength of fabrics made of yarns. The laminated fabrics are made of two constructed fabrics-woven or knitted – held together with an adhesive or by heat fusion.
The quality of fabric made can only be measured through its finishing. All fabrics are go through one or more of a series of finishing processes to improve its aesthetic appearance, improve service qualities, both. The number of processes depends on the final use for which the fabric is intended. The general finishing processes includes cleaning, bleaching, drying, heat-setting ( for thermoplastics), inspection, repair, inspection, singeing (burning off fuzzy fiber ends), brushing, shearing, preshrinking, softening, mercerizing ( to add stiffeners), weighting and fulling ( to the body), tentering (setting warp and filling at right angles), dyeing and application of design.
About the design, fabric design may be given by the construction process such as the pattern of a figure weave, the stripes and checks of gingham, or the patterns resulting from the spacing or grouping of different types of yarns. The design may also be applied after a fabric is constructed. The decorative applied as designs may be attained by many types of printing, embossing, embroidery, appliqué, tie-and-dye, hand painting, moiré, or quilting.
Fabrics, many of it are given special finishes to serve particular functions. This may also attract buyers or customers. These processes may render cloth waterproof or water-repellent, moth-proof, flame-retardant or flameproof, wrinkle-resistant, and crease-recovering.
Encyclopedia Americana – International Edition Vol.26, USA.2002
“Textile”: Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/textile>
Olsen, Richard P., The Textile Industry. Lexington Bks. 1978.
Toyne, B., et al., The Global Textile Industry, 1984