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Fabrics & their Types, Control, Quality & Cleaning
Fabric or cloth is a flexible artificial material that is
made by a network of natural or artificial fibers.
Example: The example is thread or yarn which is
formed by weaving or knitting as in textiles. Cloth is
mostly used in the manufacturing of clothing and
household furnishings etc.
A small fabric shop
Cotton, is the most famous fabric and most widely used fiber in the world because of its
versatility and ability to provide good comfort, particularly in apparel items . Cotton is soft,
natural, vegetable fiber obtained from the seed-pod of the cotton plant. The use of cotton is
diverse for example it is used in apparel, home furnishings, towels, rugs, and sewing thread etc.
Polyester, it is a type of fabric which is a synthetic, man-made fiber produced. Some of it's
features are crease resistance, ability to dry quickly, shape retention in garments, high strength,
abrasion resistance, and minimum care requirement. It is very important fiber in upholstery
fabrics, which is often used in warps due to its strength and inexpensiveness.
Silk is a natural filament fiber produced by the silkworm in cocoon. Silk is mostly collected from
cultivated worms, it is a thicker, shorter fiber produced by worms in their natural habitat.
Primarily found in Asia there are several types of silk like tussah silk and wild silk etc.
Acrylic, it is a synthetic fiber. It has a soft, wool-like hand, and is generally able to be dyed in a
wide range of brilliant colors. Excellent sunlight resistance and wrinkle resistance is it's great
Velvet which is another type of popular fabric is basically a warp pile cloth in which rows of short
cut pile stand so close together as to form an even, uniform surface. Velvet is appealing in look
and with soft. Different fibers including silk is used in making of velvet.
Damask is mainly made in china and it is firm, glossy jacquard-patterned fabric. It is a reversible
fabric characterized by a combination of satin and sateen weaves. You can distinguish it from
the ground by it's contrasting luster.
Cotton is a soft, fluffy, staple fibre
that comes from cotton plants
Different layers in cotton fiber
Microscopic view of cotton
• Silk fiber produced as a cocoon covering by the
silkworm, and valuable for its use in fine fabrics
• Nylon is a generic
designation for a family of
synthetic polymers known
generically as polyamides.
How to control fabric pilling
Pilling happens because of rubbing or abrasion of the fabric during normal
wear and use. You'll find pilling most often on man-made fibers particularly
polyester and polyester blends.
Pilling occurs during wearing or washing when groups of short or broken
fibers on the surface of the fabric become tangled together in a tiny ball - a
Before laundering, turn the garment inside out.
Use the gentle cycle which has a slower agitation and shorter wash cycle.
Use liquid detergent or allow powdered detergent to dissolve completely before
Line dry woven fabrics. Dry knitted garments on a flat surface. If using the dryer,
remove as soon as possible to lessen abrasion from other fabrics.
One of the most effective ways to remove pills is to use a fabric comb or a battery
operated pill remover that shaves the pills from the surface of the garment. You
can also pull the fabric taut over a curved surface and carefully cut off the pill with
scissors or shave the fabric surface with a safety razor. You must be extremely
careful and weigh the value of the garment before tackling the job!
How to control fabric shrinkage
Shrinkage is the process in which a fabric becomes smaller than its original
size, usually through the process of laundry.
For wool garments, shrinkage is due to scales on the fibers which heat,
water and agitation cause to stick together.
Other fabrics are stretched by mechanical forces during production, and
can shrink slightly when heated (though to a lesser degree than wool).
Some clothes are "pre-shrunk" to avoid this problem.
Pre-shirking is needed almost on all fabrics because most textile
materials shrink when washed. However preshrinking can only reduce
the residual shrinkage to a lower percentage, but cannot completely
How to control fabric quality
Fabric Quality Inspection:
Fabric Quality Inspection:
The quality of a final garment depends on the quality of a fabric when it is received as a roll. Even the
most outstanding manufacturing methods cannot compensate for defective materials. We inspect 10%
of the rolls and evaluate them based on a four-point system. This way, we can avoid fabric related
quality problems before it is put into production.
Four- Point System:
Amount to select: Inspect at least 10% of the total rolls of the shipment.
Selection of rolls: Select at least one roll of each color. If more than one role must be selected, then
choose the additional roles in proportion to the total number of roles per color received.
Defect Classification (Four- Point System):
3 inches or less
Over 3 inches, but less than 6
Over 6 inches, but less than 9
Over 9 inches
The length of the defect is used to determine the penalty point. Only major defects are considered. No
penalty points are assigned to minor defects. (A major defect is any defect that would cause a final garment
to be considered a second.)
Major woven fabric defects include but are not limited to slubs, holes, missing yarns, yarn variation, end
out, soiled yarns, and wrong yarn.
Major dye or printing defects are out of register, dye spots, machine stop, color out, color smear, or
Acceptance Criteria and Calculation:
40 points per 100 yards is the acceptable defect rate
# of Points per 100 yds = # of penalty points x 100
One of the safest and easiest ways to clean textiles is to vacuum them. The fabric is placed
on a clean, flat work surface. If the specimen is particularly delicate, or simply as a
precaution, a fiberglass screen edged with twill tape may be placed over the textile. The
screen allows dirt and dust to pass through, but prevents individual threads from being
pulled loose or unraveled further by the suction. Using a vacuum attachment and the lowest
power setting, move the suction over the screen until the entire area has been cleaned.
Vacuuming through a screen.
The most familiar method of washing everyday textiles is to use water and detergent. The urge to
wash historic textiles can be as automatic as the machines used. Historic textiles should not be
regarded as laundry, however, because wet cleaning can do a great deal of damage to them.
Water can cause cotton and linen to shrink, especially when combined with heat. Similarly, wool
can shrink or become irreversibly matted, while if dyes in a textile are not 'fixed' they can run,
damaging adjacent areas.
Textiles are markedly weaker when wet and therefore much easier to damage or tear. In some
cases, light finger pressure when trying to manipulate or handle a wet historic textile is enough to
split the fabric. Finally, many textiles shrink and distort as they dry.
Dry cleaning is generally only used for oil stains, as it is a very stressful
process of the textile. Commercial dry cleaners should never be used, as
the chemicals used in the process are too strong for old fabrics to
withstand without damage. If dry cleaning is absolutely necessary,
consult a professional conservator.
Steaming and ironing
Steaming and ironing textiles should be done with caution, as the heat
may affect the viability of the fibers. More importantly, the fabric should
always be cleaned before either of these processes is used, since heat
may trap dirt and stains in the fibers to such an extent that the stain
becomes permanent. Always use the lowest setting for either of these
procedures. If a garment relies on folds to maintain its proper shape
(such as pleats), it may be better to finger-press the folds into place
when the garment is damp and allow it to dry that way, rather than
subject it to the added stress of ironing.
Fabric Thread Count
Thread count or threads per inch (TPI) is a measure of the
coarseness or fineness of fabric.
It is measured by counting the number of threads contained in
one square inch of fabric or one square centimeter, including
both the length (warp) and width (weft) threads.
The thread count is the number of threads counted along two
sides (up and across) of the square inch, added together.
It is used especially in regard to cotton linens such as bed
sheets, and has been known to be used in the classification
Thread count is often used as a measure of fabric quality, so
“Standard" cotton thread counts are around 150
good-quality sheets start at 180 and a count of 200 or higher is
Some, but not all, of the extremely high thread counts (typically
over 500) tend to be misleading as they usually count the
individual threads in "plied" yarns (a yarn that is made by twisting
together multiple finer threads). For marketing purposes, a fabric
with 250 two-ply yarns in both the vertical and horizontal
direction could have the component threads counted to a 1000
According to the National Textile Association (NTA), which cites
the international standards group ASTM, accepted industry
practice is to count each thread as one, even threads spun as
two- or three-ply yarn.
Image showing how to
determine the number
of twists per inch in a
piece of yarn