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To list all the types of fabrics there are in the world would fill up pages and pages. But here is a select sample of the common ones, with a few exotic types thrown in.
Acetate is a combination natural and synthetic fibre. The natural element is from the cellulose of wood.
Acrylic fibres are man-made and incorporate by-products from petroleum and natural gas.
Bark cloth is a very old fabric type that was traditionally made and used in parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. It comes from the bark of particular trees native to these regions, whereby strips soaked and then beaten into sheets. Bark cloth was used as a garment and furnishings textile.
Blends are a general description of fabrics made of two or more fibres. The idea is to incorporate the distinct characteristics of the separate fibres into one textile.
Cheesecloth is a variant of cotton cloth and has a very loose weave. There are several grades of cheesecloth, ranging from extra-fine to open weaves. It’s mostly used in cooking and, as the name implies, cheese making.
Chiffon is a very sheer, light fabric made out of silk, cotton or synthetic fibres. The twist in the fibres gives it a somewhat rough feel, and the mesh-like weave contributes to its see through properties.
Corduroy is a strong, durable fabric with a surface of rounded cord or rib and the back has a plain or twill weave. It can be made from several textiles including cotton.
Cotton is derived from the fibre of the tropical cotton plant. When the cotton flowers bloom and die, a boll remains which ripens and splits open to reveal a white, fluffy interior with seeds – this is the raw cotton. Cotton is the most widely used fabric and is the basis of over 30 types of textiles.
Denim is a type of cotton fabric woven in such a way that the threads produce that distinctive diagonal ribbing on the underside of the fabric. Traditionally it was dyed blue and the first denim trousers were made in Genoa, Italy. Both the words ‘denim’ and ‘jeans’ are of French origin.
Georgette is a type of silk fabric, although today synthetic georgettes are also produced. It’s light, crinkly, slightly rough feel is what it’s known for, plus the range of colours it is dyed in.