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Fabric 101

WEAVES AND TEXTURES

These textiles are constructed from a warp and weft that are similar in size. During weaving, the weft is passed over alternate warp threads to create the usually closely woven fabrics. Basic plain weaves have a flat smooth texture, good for techniques such as pleating or smocking. Varied yarn weights and tensions create variations.

Pros: firm and wears wells, abrasion resistant
Cons: wrinkles more, less absorbent

Crepe is a crinkled or grainy-looking fabric. Crepe yarn is twisted so much that it twists back on itself. This creates elasticity. When the yarn is stretched on the loom, it is elongated and when released, it snaps back to create dense and lofty fabric. No matter how it is woven, crepe yarn produces fabric with crepe properties. Crepe is suited for less structured garments that flow around the body. The twisted yarn creates air pockets in the fabric that promote fabulous drape.

These textiles have a visible sheen and feel smooth due to a tight weave structure with yarn across the fabric surface. The warp is woven to lie on top of the weft or vice-versa. Satin weave fabrics give a lustrous, elegant look to garments. They are also used for lining since they glide well over other textiles.

Pros: pliable, wrinkle resistant

During the twill weave process the weft is woven over at least two warp threads before it goes under one or more warp threads. Staggered down the fabric length, the weft produces diagonal lines on the surface. Twill weaves provide extra stability in the diagonal direction and higher resistance to tearing. This makes twill weave fabrics popular for hard-wearing items such as uniforms, tote bags and blue jeans.

Pro: soil resistant, soft and pliable, good wrinkle recovery, durable and wears well
Cons:

These textiles are woven with extra yarns in addition to the warp and weft. These yarns create loops that can be cut such as velveteen or corduroy or left as loops such as toweling. Pile fabrics can have plain, satin, crepe or twill weave bases. Pile fabrics soak up light from some angles and reflect it from others. By drawing in the light, pile fabrics look dense and luxurious. Faux furs are also considered pile fabrics.

FABRICS FROM MAN-MADE FIBERS

Made from the cellulose Acetate fabric is resistant to shrinkage, moth and mildew. This fabric gives an extremely soft and luxurious look just like silk.

Characteristics: some absorbency, no pilling, some wrinkling, doesn’t shrink, prone to have static, retains crispness
Strength / durability: poor; weaker when wet

Cleaning: While most items made of acetate are dry clean only, some may be hand-washed in lukewarm water. Do not twist the fabric. Iron while the fabric is damp. Press the inside of the garment using a low-temperature (250º) setting. Use a pressing cloth when ironing the outside.

Acrylic fabrics are made of synthetic fibres which are artificially manufactured. They are can also referred to as imitation wool. These fabrics are often used in shirts and ladies outfits as well as incorporated into the seats of chairs and sofas. Acrylic fabrics are known for their stiffness and wear ability and tear resistance.

Characteristics: poor absorbency, pilling, resists wrinkles, doesn’t shrink, prone to have static, has wicking qualities
Strength / durability: fair

Cleaning: Most acrylic knit garments can be machine-washed. Read the label and check for the proper drying option. Some knits retain their shapes best if reshaped and dried flat.

Chiffon basically refers to a light plain woven sheer fabric with a soft drape. Chiffon fabric can be manufactured using different fibers both natural (silk, cotton) or synthetic (polyester, rayon). but it is generally associated with fibers like nylon or silk. Chiffon is often used for bridal gowns, evening dresses, blouses and scarves.

Characteristics: poor absorbency; light weight fabric; no pilling; some wirnkling; silk chiffon could shrink; polyester chiffon won’t shrink;
Strength / durability: fragile; can easily fray

Cleaning: Silk chiffon should be dry cleaned. Polyester chiffon can be hand-washed in cool water with mild detergent; lay flat to dry

Georgette is a sheer, strong silk or silk-like clothing fabric that often comes with a dull, creped surface. In other words, it is a sheer lightweight fabric that provides utmost comfort. This is fabric is usually made out of silk or polyester. As compared to chiffon, it is opaque and slightly heavy. It is an inexpensive and practical fabric used by many couturiers.

Characteristics: good absorbency; resembles silk; light weight fabric with crinkly texture; prone to shrinking;
Strength / durability: good

Cleaning: Hand-washing is recommended; lay flat to dry

Lastex fabric basically refers to an elastic fiber that is made from Latex. Moreover, Lastex fabric is used with other complex fibers to create different fabrics such as spandex and foundation garments.

Fabric composed of nylon is used in a variety of items such as clothing, sheets, covers and many other domestic and industrial appliances. Nylon fabric is often preferred to other fabrics for its strength and stretch ability. The high elasticity of nylon fabric makes it ideal for use in luggage, wallet, etc. In addition, nylon fabrics are easy to maintain as they can be cleaned and dried without any special effort.

Characteristics: fair to poor absorbency, pilling (result of too much washing/drying), resists wrinkles, doesn’t shrink, prone to have static, water and wind repellent, insulates well for its weight
Strength / durability: high; lessens when wet

Cleaning:
Machine-wash nylon garments in warm water. Use a low-temperature setting when tumble-drying, and include a dryer sheet to reduce static electricity. Use a warm iron (250º) to press, if necessary.

Organza basically refers to a thin, plain weave. It is a sheer fabric made of continuous filaments of silk yarn worms. In the modern fashion era many organzas are woven with synthetic filament fibers such as nylon and polyester but most of the stylish organzas are woven in silk.

Characteristics: has more body than chiffon which drapes softly; poor absorbency; no pilling; some wrinkles;
Strength / durability: poor

Cleaning: Silk organza should be dry cleaned. Polyester organza can be machine washed on gentle setting or hand-washed either way should be in cool water and then hung to dry.

This man-made synthetic fabric has become popular due its many qualities (wrinkle resistance, springing back into its smooth shape, fabric strength and softness). Polyester can also be mixed with other fabrics to make a strong and durable fabric or to achieve any other motive. For example, in upholstery, polyester is generally blended with wool to eliminate crushing and reduce fading.

Characteristics: very poor absorbency, pilling; doesn’t wrinkle; doesn’t shrink; non-allergenic; retains body heat due to low breathability
Strength / durability: high

Cleaning: Read the label. Usually polyester items can be machine-washed (cool) and dried (low). Check the label to see if air-drying is recommended. Touch up with a cool -- never hot – iron (250º), if necessary.

Rayon fabric is basically a synthetic textile fiber which is obtained by forcing a cellulose solution through fine spinnerets. In other words, rayon fabric is a final result of solidifying filaments. This unique type of fabric cannot be termed either a synthetic fabric or natural one. Rayon is a fabric that can be woven or knit; further increasing its versatility. The efficiency of rayon fabric is comparatively much higher than taffeta or other cotton fabric. It is economical too. Apart from this, its soft texture makes rayon one of the most lovable fabrics.

Characteristics: very good absorbency; no pilling, wrinkles easily, can shrink, no static, comfortable to wear in warm weather
Strength / durability: strong, weaker when wet

Cleaning: Make sure to read the care label for rayon clothing. Launder in cool water and a mild detergent. When machine washing, use the gentle cycle and promptly remove garments after washing. When hand-washing, do not wring or twist the garment. To dry, roll the item in a towel to squeeze out excess water. Lay flat to dry. Iron while still damp and inside out to prevent the fabric from becoming shiny. Use a pressing cloth when ironing the right side of the garment. Pressing cloths can be purchased or use something as simple as a piece of white cotton fabric.

With its elegant look and smooth surface, Satin has become a staple of the fashion world. Satin fabric is used especially for women’s apparel such as blouses, panties, gowns, and more. It is also used for bed sheets, curtains and other decorative purposes. The glossiness of the satin fabric evokes a high class feel. Satin fabric is generally composed of silk or rayon which explains its smoothness. These fabrics are available in various weights and colors. Satins are very delicate and are manufactured with a great deal of care and attention.

Characteristics: fabric is susceptible to pulls or abrasions; has beautiful drape; wrinkles easily; does not breathe very well; little stretch
Strength / durability: high

Cleaning: Dry cleaning is preferable. Hand wash in cool water. Do not wring or twist. Roll in a clean towel to remove excess water. Lay flat to dry.

FABRICS FROM NATURAL FIBERS

Cotton fabrics are believed to be the most soothing and safe. They are immensely used for infant clothing and bedding which is a testimonial to its softness and skin friendly qualities. Cotton fabric is also referred to as all-season fabric. Cotton fabric keeps the body cool and absorbs the sweat easily during the summer season but also provides warmth during the winter months.

Characteristics: high absorbency; no pilling; wrinkles; can shrink; no static; cooling effect

Strength / durability: good; stronger when wet

Cleaning: • Cotton holds up well to home laundering and hot water cycles. Remove the garment from the dryer promptly to reduce wrinkling. Press using spray starch for the crispness of a laundered shirt. • Dry cotton-blend garments using your dryer's permanent-press or low-heat cycle, and remove immediately to reduce wrinkling. Touch up with a steam iron; starch for a professionally laundered look.

Denim is a sturdy cotton twill textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving produces the familiar diagonal ribbing of the denim that distinguishes it from cotton duck. It is a characteristic of any indigo denim that only the warp threads are dyed, whereas the weft threads remain plain white. As a result of the warp-faced twill weaving, one side of the textile then shows the blue warp threads and the other side shows the white weft threads. This is why blue jeans are white on the inside. This type of dyeing also creates denim's fading characteristics, which are unique compared to every other textile.

Characteristics: Strength / durability: very good

Cleaning: Machine wash according to label instructions.

Being among the most strong and durable fabrics, Jute fabric is ideal for use in bags. The most important use of the Jute fabric is in the manufacturing of carpets, linoleum, cordage and twines. It is sometimes used as webbing to cover inner springs of the auto seats. Sometimes used as fashion accessory used for fashion garments, tapestries, soft luggage, etc.

Linen is called the king of natural fabrics. It is extensively used for clothing and home furnishing alike. Linen is made of natural fibers and is considered to be safe for all types of skin. It is a strong and durable fabric which is easy to maintain. No special treatments are required for linen; it can be simply hand-washed. It is ideal for keeping the body cool during hot summer months.

Characteristics: high absorbency; no pilling; wrinkles easily; can shrink; no static; very good cooling effect

Strength / durability: high – twice the strength of cotton

Cleaning: Most linen garments need to be dry-cleaned or hand-washed. Follow the instructions on the care label. To touch up or press, use a steam iron (450º) on a linen setting for a crisp look.

Discovered during 2640 B.C. in China, Silk is among the strongest natural fabrics in the world. Known for its softness, luster and luxurious look, Silk fabric is mainly used for making luxurious and expensive dresses and home furnishings. Today there are different varieties of silk available such as Chiffon, Georgette, Organza, Crepe de Chine, Shantung, etc.

Characteristics: good absorbency; no pilling; wrinkles shake out when hung; can shrink; no static; insulates well for its weight

Strength / durability: good; weakens when wet

Cleaning: Dry cleaning may be required. Most silks are hand-washable. Do not dry silk in a clothes dryer. Garments usually look best when professionally dry-cleaned.

Soft, strong and very durable, wool fabrics provide warmth and have an attractive appearance. It is a fabric which keeps the wearer dry while sweating and cool when hot. Wicking away perspiration from the body, wool fabric does not wrinkle easily and is resistant to dirt, wear and tear. It is not easily burnt when put over a flame, it will only smolder. Felt made of wool fabric is used as covers for piano hammers. It is also used in absorbing odors and noise in machinery and stereo speakers. Wool fabric has been used for clothing for over 12.000 years and against popular opinion it does not come only from sheep.

Characteristics: good absorbency; some pilling, wrinkle resistant, most wrinkles will shake out; can shrink; some static; sheds water naturally; dries slowly; good insulation for cold weather

Strength / durability: fair; loses strength when wet

Cleaning: • Typically wool knits need to be dry-cleaned, but check the label. If hand-washable, use cool water and a detergent for fine washables. Squeeze out excess water, then reshape and dry flat. • Lined garments generally look best when professionally dry-cleaned once a season. Between dry cleanings, remove surface soil with a brush or damp cloth. Refresh the item by hanging it from a padded hanger in a steamy bathroom; moisture will help garment shed wrinkles. When touching up with an iron, use steam in an up-and-down motion (rather than sliding the iron along the fabric).

COMMON FABRICS & THEIR CARE

While most items made of acetate are dry clean only, some may be hand-washed in lukewarm water. Do not twist the fabric. Iron while the fabric is damp. Press the inside of the garment using a low-temperature (250º) setting. Use a pressing cloth when ironing the outside.

Most acrylic knit garments can be machine washed. Read the label and check for the proper drying option. Some knits retain their shapes best if reshaped and dried flat.

Check the care label before laundering cashmere. To hand-wash, use a mild detergent or shampoo. Gently squeeze the water through the garment, then rinse until the water runs clear. Do not wring or twist. Squeeze out excess water. To dry, lay flat on a towel away from sunlight or heat.

Cotton holds up well to home laundering. Remove the garment from the dryer promptly to reduce wrinkling. Press using spray starch for a professionally laundered look.

Dry cotton-blend garments using your dryer's permanent-press or low-heat cycle and remove immediately to reduce wrinkling. Touch up with a steam iron; starch for a professionally laundered look.

Most linen garments need to be dry-cleaned or hand-washed. Follow the instructions on the care label. To touch up or press, use a steam iron on a linen setting for a crisp look.

Machine wash nylon garments in warm water. Use a low-temperature setting when tumble-drying and include a dryer sheet to reduce static electricity. Use a warm iron to press, if necessary.

Read the label. Usually polyester items can be machine washed (cool) and dried (low). Check the label to see if air-drying is recommended. Touch up with a cool -- never hot -- iron, if necessary.

Make sure to read the care label for rayon clothing. Launder in cool water with a mild detergent. When machine washing, use the gentle cycle and promptly remove garments after washing. When hand-washing, do not wring or twist the garment. To dry, roll the item in a towel to squeeze out excess water. Lay flat to dry. Iron while still damp and inside out to prevent the fabric from becoming shiny. Use a pressing cloth when ironing the right side of the garment. Pressing cloths can be purchased or use something as simple as a piece of white cotton fabric.

Dry cleaning may be required. Some silks are machine or hand-washable. Do not dry silk in a clothes dryer. Garments usually look best when professionally dry-cleaned.

Use warm water when machine or hand-washing items made with spandex. Line-dry or use a low temperature setting when machine-drying to preserve the elasticity of the garment.

Typically wool knits need to be dry-cleaned, but check the label. If hand-washable, use cool water and a detergent for fine washables. Squeeze out excess water, then reshape and dry flat.

Lined garments generally look best when professionally dry-cleaned once a season. Between dry cleanings, remove surface soil with a brush or damp cloth. Refresh the item by hanging it from a padded hanger in a steamy bathroom; moisture will help garment shed wrinkles. When touching up with an iron, use steam in an up-and-down motion (rather than sliding the iron along the fabric).

STAIN REMOVAL

Soak immediately in cold water. Rub detergent into any remaining stain, then launder in hot water.

Soak in lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent into any remaining stain then launder as usual. For stubborn stains use a few drops of ammonia then launder again.

Let cool then scrape off as much was as possible with a blunt knife. Place brown paper on both side of wax stain. Iron until the wax melts into the paper. Treat any residual color with denatured alcohol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatured_alcohol).

Allow chocolate to harden, then scrape off any large pieces with a blunt knife. Rinse in lukewarm water with detergent. Let dry. If stain remains, launder in hot water with chlorine bleach. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach. For persistent stains used dried tea method (see below).

Rinse with the hottest water possible, soak in hot water with chlorine bleach or soak in laundry borax, rinse. For table linens, rinse immediately in cold water, then soak and launder. For dried teas stains, drape the stained item over a bowl or basin. Sprinkle a thick coat of laundry borax over the item until covered. Pour hot water around the stain working towards the center. Repeat until stain is gone.

The key when removing the stain is to work gently from the outer edge of the stain inward.

Mascara
Use a spray or liquid stain remover

Lipstick
Rubbing Alcohol - Start with alcohol, which works well. Do not rub, or you'll spread the mark. Simply take a clean, white cloth and moisten it with alcohol. Then, blot the lipstick stain, which will disappear.

Liquid Dishwashing - Detergent Another home remedy is to use a mild liquid dishwashing detergent such as Dawn, formulated to fight grease. For this method of lipstick stain removal, dab on a little Dawn, let it set for about 10 minutes, then gently begin working on the stain from the outside edges inward. You could use laundry detergent, shampoo, or other similar type of cleanser as long as it does not contain any lighteners, brighteners, or bleach.

Ammonia - Another great home remedy for removing lipstick stains is ammonia. Again, start by blotting off as much of the stain as you can, using plain water. When done, use a cotton swab moistened with ammonia to dab at the stain. Once the stain begins to fade, wash the shirt by hand in warm soapy water.

Foundation make-up
Wipe off the excess, then soak in ammonia solution (1 tsp ammonia to 2 cups of cold water). Launder as usual.

This type of stain may be impossible to remove. Soak garment immediately in lukewarm water and chlorine bleach. Or alternately, sponge with or soak in hydrogen peroxide solution for 15 minutes.

Hold white absorbent pad beneath stain. For white cotton garments sponge with nail polish remover. For all other fabrics with a sponge with amyl acetate (banana oil) then launder as usual.

Rub detergent into the dampen stain, rinse. Sponge stain with alcohol diluted with two parts water. If stain remains launder with chlorine bleach.

Sponge with cleaning fluid then launder in hot water with chlorine bleach and extra detergent. Some fresh grease stains can be removed by sprinkling with absorbent powder (talcum or cornstarch); however, it mat leave a white residue on dark fabrics.

Ballpoint pen
Place white paper towel under stain then sponge with dry cleaning fluid. If ink stain remains, scrub with a bar of soap, rinse then launder. Alternately apply denatured alcohol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatured_alcohol) with a cotton swab to the stain.

Fountain pen
Launder. If stain remains rub with half a lemon or squeeze lemon juice onto it. Press stained area between two pieces of white cloth, rinse. Launder.

Felt-tip marker
For a small mark press with paper towel to remove as much as you can. Then dab the mark with denatured alcohol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatured_alcohol) with a cotton swab. For larger stains spray with stain remover then launder using soap flakes, not detergent. Repeat if needed.

Wash with detergent and chlorine bleach in hot water. If stain remains, sponge with hydrogen peroxide, rinse and launder. Do not use hydrogen peroxide on nylon fabrics.

Lace
Rub with soap so that a film develops. Leave in the sun for several hours then rinse.

Shower curtain
Sponge curtain with either a detergent solution or a weak bleach solution while wearing gloves.  

Whites
Soak natural fabrics in a household bleach solution.

Colours
Rub with a bar of soap, let dry in the sun then launder. Repeat washing if needed. If stain persists use a specialized stain remover.

Rub between fingers with mild detergent solution, then sponge with ammonia solution (1 part ammonia with 2 parts cold water).

Use solvent as recommended by paint label as thinner, or rub stain with detergent. If stain remains, sponge with turpentine, rinse and launder. Use commercial stain remover for dried stains.

Rub detergent into stain then launder in hot water with chlorine bleach. If garment colour has been affected sponge a fresh stain with ammonia or sponge an old stain with white vinegar. Rinse then launder.

Pour white wine onto stain as soon as it occurs. Blot both well and sponge with clear, warm water then pat dry. Rinse with warm water, soak I laundry borax solution/heavy-duty detergent then launder. For delicates, treat white wool or silk with hydrogen peroxide solution, rinse then hand wash. For table linens bleach whites but soak colours in heavy-duty detergent solution. If stain persists, use dried tea method.

Apply liquid laundry detergent or a paste of granular detergent and water directly on the stain. Let stand for 30 minutes then launder.

Hold white absorbent cloth under the stain and apply lemon juice from half a lemon and then cover with salt. Let dry (preferably in the sun), rinse and launder.

Rinse under cold running water while rubbing the stain between your fingers. Treat with a prewash treatment then launder.

Launder in hot water with extra detergent and chlorine bleach. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

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