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Unit D MERCHANDISE INFORMATION. 4.01 Identify basic textile fibers, fabrics, and their characteristics. Textile Industry Terms. Fiber : The smallest unit in a textile fabric. Yarn : A group of fibers twisted together to form a continuous strand.

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unit d merchandise information


4.01 Identify basic textile fibers, fabrics, and their characteristics.

textile industry terms
Textile Industry Terms
  • Fiber: The smallest unit in a textile fabric.
  • Yarn: A group of fibers twisted together to form a continuous strand.
  • Fabric: Any material that is made by weaving, knitting, braiding, knotting, laminating, felting, or chemical bonding.
  • Hand: The way a fabric feels to the touch.
  • Denier: Thickness or diameter of a fiber.
  • Microfibers: Ultra fine, soft, luxurious fibers possessing the same desirable qualities as expensive natural fibers but costing less and requiring less special care.
  • CAD (Computer Aided Design): Computer system software used for designing textiles, fashion, apparel, and other products.
natural fibers
Natural fibers

Fibers from plants or animal sources.

  • Staple fibers: Lower quality, short fibers.
  • Filament fibers: Long, continuous fibers of higher quality.
  • Cellulosic fibers: Fibers from plants.
  • Protein fibers: Fibers derived from animals or insects.

Manufactured fibers

Fibers that are man-made (synthetic) and are created by combining various substances with chemicals.

  • Solid raw materials and chemicals are melted or dissolved to form a thick liquid.
  • The liquid is forced through the tiny holes of a mechanical device known as a spinnerette to form filaments. (Similar to pushing dough through a pasta machine to make spaghetti.)
  • The filaments are then stretched, hardened, and crimped and/or cut into lengths.

Manufactured fibers (cont.)

  • Cellulosic manufactured fibers are made from cellulose from plants such as soft wood pulp and are changed into usable fibers by applying chemicals.
  • Noncellulosic manufactured fibers are made from various petrochemical mixtures of crude oil, natural gas, air, and water.

Blend: A combination of two or more fibers that maximizes the best features of each fiber.

  • Example: Combining cotton with polyester
natural fibers1


Flax (linen)


Natural fibers

The soft, white, downy fiber (boll) attached to the seed of a cotton plant.

  • Most widely used of all natural fibers
  • Grown in the southern U.S. and other warm climates
  • Characteristics:

Strong and durable


Cool to wear

Shrinks in hot water

Wrinkles easily

  • Proper care
    • Machine wash
    • Tumble dry at moderate temperatures
    • Press with warm to hot iron
  • Common uses:



Shirts, blouses


Towels, sheets


The fiber that forms the coat (fleece) of sheep.

  • Primary sources are Australia, South America, New Zealand, and United Kingdom
  • Characteristics:

Natural insulator; warmest of all natural fibers

Soft and resilient

Naturally flame retardant

Absorbs moisture more slowly than cotton

Shrinks if machine washed or dried unless chemically treated

Affected by moths

  • Proper care for untreated wool:
    • Dry clean or hand wash in cool water and a mild detergent (according to garment label)
    • Do not place in dryer
    • Press with cool iron
  • Common uses:
  • Sweaters
  • Tailored suits
  • Coats
  • Blankets
  • Upholstery
  • Rugs, carpets
The fiber that comes from the stem of a flax plant.

Grown and harvested primarily in Eastern Europe

Linen is made by weaving or knitting flax fiber into fabric.

Common uses:



Table linens


  • Characteristics
    • Durable and strong
    • Lustrous and smooth
    • Comfortable and cool to wear
    • Wrinkles easily
    • Creases difficult to remove
    • Can be expensive
  • Proper Care:
    • Hand wash or dry clean (according to garment label)
    • Iron while damp

The fine, lustrous fiber that comes from a cocoon spun by a silkworm.

  • The silkworm forces two fine streams of a thick liquid out of tiny openings in its head.
  • These streams harden into filaments or fibers upon contact with the air.
  • Primarily produced in Asia (Thailand, China, India), and Madagascar
  • Characteristics:
    • Luxurious appearance and feel
    • Strongest of all natural fibers
    • Drapes nicely
    • Expensive
    • Easily spots if fabric becomes wet
    • Weakens with exposure to sun and perspiration

Proper Care:

  • Dry clean or hand wash (according to garment directions)
  • Press on wrong side with warm iron

Common uses:

  • Wedding gowns
  • Lingerie
  • Men’s ties
leather and fur
Leather and Fur
  • Leather and fur are from the hides or skins of animals.
  • Leather: A tough, flexible material made by preserving animal hides through a process called tanning.

Tanning converts hides into finished usable leather.

leather is used for handbags shoes belts jackets
Leather is used for: Handbags Shoes Belts Jackets


  • Primary sources:
  • Cattle
  • Goatskins
  • Sheepskins
  • Reptiles

Suede: Leather with a napped surface on the flesh side.


The soft, hairy coat of an animal.

  • Fur is used for:
    • Coats
    • Outerwear
    • Trimmings

Common Sources

    • Mink
    • Chinchilla
    • Fox
    • Rabbit
manufactured fibers






Manufactured fibers
  • Made from coal or petroleum
  • Strong and often blended with other fibers
  • Resistant to wrinkling
  • Shrink and stretch resistant
  • Easy to care for
  • Great washability
  • Pills easily
  • Static buildup
  • Common uses:
    • Children’s wear, shirts, suits
  • First fiber to be manufactured totally from chemicals
  • Strong, durable, elastic
  • Dries quickly
  • Resists wrinkles and soil
  • Washes easily
  • Heat sensitive
  • Clings to the wearer
  • Common uses:
    • Hosiery, swimwear, windbreakers
  • Common uses:
    • Terrycloth
    • Bathrobes
    • Knitted garments
    • Outdoor furniture fabrics and awnings
  • Resembles wool
  • Soft and warm
  • Bulky, yet lightweight
  • Quick drying
  • Strong
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Static buildup
  • Pills easily
  • Soft, absorbent, and comfortable
  • Inexpensive
  • Stretches and is weak when wet
  • Mildews and wrinkles easily

Common uses:

    • Linings
    • Sports shirts
    • Jackets
  • Very versatile
  • Inexpensive and easy to dye
  • Silky, luxurious
  • Deep luster, soft
  • Wrinkles easily
  • Special care needed in cleaning
  • Common uses:
    • Neckties
    • Lingerie
    • Blouses
    • Linings
  • Known for its ability to stretch
  • Resistant to lotions, oils, sun, and perspiration
  • Easily damaged by chlorine bleach
  • Soft, lightweight
  • Durable
  • Nonabsorbent
  • Common uses:
    • Swimwear
    • Dancewear
    • Exercise wear
steps involved in fabric production
Steps involved in fabric production
  • Fibers are usually twisted together and spun into yarns.
  • Yarns are either woven or knitted to form fabric.
  • Color is added by dyeing or printing to enhance the fabric’s appeal.
  • A finish is applied to make the fabric suitable for its end use and to improve its appearance.
turning yarn into fabric
Turning Yarn into Fabric

Weaving: The process of interlacing one or more sets of yarns at right angles on a loom.

  • Warp yarns: Yarns that run lengthwise in woven fabric.
  • Weft yarns: Yarns that run crosswise in woven fabric.
turning yarn into fabric cont
Turning Yarn into Fabric (cont.)
  • Grain: The direction of the lengthwise and crosswise yarns or threads in a woven fabric.
  • Bias: The diagonal grain of a fabric. The bias provides the greatest “give” or stretch in the fabric.
  • Plain weave: The simplest weave in which the weft (crosswise) yarn is passed over then under each warp (lengthwise) yarn.
    • A basket weave is one variation, with the weft yarn passing over two and under two warp yarns each pass.
    • Examples: Chiffon, seersucker, taffeta

Plain weave

  • Twill weave: A weave in which the weft yarn is passed over and under one, two, or three warp yarns beginning one warp yarn back on each new row.
    • Used for durability, this weave produces a diagonal design on the surface.
    • Examples: denim, gabardine

Twill weave

  • Satin weave: A weave that produces a smooth, shiny-surfaced fabric resulting from passing the weft yarn over and under numerous warp yarns to create long floats.
    • Examples: sateen, satin

Satin weave


Other weaves

  • Pile weave—corduroy, velvet
  • Dobby—dotted swiss, pique
  • Jacquard—brocade, damask
  • Leno—fabrics with an open, lacy appearance

Weft knits: Knits made with only one yarn that runs crosswise forming a horizontal row of interlocking loops.

Cut edges will curl.

Weft knits run if snagged.

Examples: jersey, ribbed knits, sweater knits

Constructing fabric by looping yarns together.

knitting cont
Knitting (cont.)

Warp knits: Knits made with several yarns creating loops that interlock in the lengthwise direction.

Do not ravel

Have selvage edges

Examples: tricot, raschel knits

Gauge: The number of stitches, or loops, per inch in a knitted fabric.

additional ways to construct fabric
Additional ways to construct fabric
  • Nonwoven. Fibers are compacted together using moisture, heat, chemicals, friction, or pressure. Examples: quilt batting, garment interfacings, felt, artificial suede
  • Laces and nets. Made by knotting, twisting, or looping yarns. Example: lace
  • Braided fabrics. Created by interlacing three or more yarns to form a regular diagonal pattern down the length of the resulting cord. Examples: decorative trims, shoelaces
  • Bonded fabric. Made by permanently fastening together two layers of fabric by lamination. Examples: two fabrics bonded so that one serves as a self-lining as in skiwear or winter coats
additional ways to construct fabric cont
Additional ways to construct fabric (cont.)
  • Quilted fabric. A layer of padding or batting is sandwiched between two layers of fabric and held in place by stitching. Examples of use: bedspreads, placemats, and outerwear
fabric finishing
Fabric finishing

Applying colors, designs or surface treatments that change the look, feel, or performance of fabrics.

  • Bleaching: Chemical processes that remove color, impurities, or spots from fibers.
  • Dyeing: A method of giving color to a fiber, yarn, fabric, or garment.
  • Printing: The process of adding color, pattern, or design to the surface of fabrics.
finish categories
Mechanical: Finishes that are applied mechanically rather than chemically.

Affect size and appearance

Examples: glazing, embossing, brushing/napping/cutting (corduroy)

Chemical: Finishes that become part of the fabric through chemical reactions with the fibers.

Affect performance

Examples: flame retardant, stain resistant (Scotchgard®), waterproof, permanent press, preshrunk (Sanforized®)

Finish categories
equipment and machinery
Equipment and machinery
  • More automated weaving and knitting machines
  • Color management tools that can synchronize a colored design on a computer screen, a paper printout, and the actual fabric color
  • Sophisticated CAD tools with 3D capabilities
  • Processes constantly monitored by computer systems


  • Enhanced characteristics for high performance fabrics resulting in production of intelligent garments

- wicking (a fiber’s ability to draw moisture away from the body so it can evaporate)

- coolness

- warmth

- protection

development of new recycling processes
Development of new recycling processes
  • Plastic soda bottles converted into polyester fiber
    • used to make fabric for t-shirts and filling for pillows
    • can be recycled numerous times without losing its performance attributes
nonwoven fabrics
Nonwoven fabrics
  • Finding increasing use in reusable apparel and other products
    • replacing traditional knits and wovens
    • widely used as interlinings in blouses, jackets, shirts, and waistbands
    • introduced for fishing and hunting apparel
    • used for medical textiles with special barrier materials to protect those in the operating room
    • printed nonwovens used for tops and blouses
    • also found in the SPF garments (garments that allow you to tan through the fabric at a controlled rate)
  • More choices in clothing for consumers
  • Demand for mass-customization in clothing.
    • In any mall, customers can find a store that will print a custom design on a t-shirt or embroider a customized design on a cap.
    • Land’s End will monogram initials on a garment.
    • Brooks Brothers handles orders for custom-made shirts or suits.
    • Mass customization is prevalent in the uniform sector where logos and names are embroidered or printed on garments. Examples: Federal Express, Postal Service, and football teams
new and improved textiles
New and improved textiles
  • Required to protect those who face hazardous environments
  • Lighter and stronger textiles required for sports
  • Absorbable, antibiotic, antimicrobial, durable, self-decontaminating, and comfortable textiles required for medical applications
  • Better filters, road-building fabrics, geotextiles, and textiles for spaceships and communication systems required for industrial use
  • Demand for textiles that can be reused and/or recycled
smart fibers
“Smart fibers of the future will inform or assist the wearer. Potential applications include clothes that monitor the medical condition of the wearer, that warn of the presence of toxic chemicals, or that adjust to suit the wearer’s environment”.

Dr. Niall Finn, CSIRO Textile and Fiber Technology

Smart fibers

“High-performance mirrors have been formed into hair-thin fibers and woven into fabrics and paper.”

  • Could create clothing and documents with advanced capabilities
    • Clothes that reflect and protect against invisible microwaves and radiation
    • Clothes that can change colors like a chameleon

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Government regulations

  • The Wool Products Labeling Act (1939) provides that all garments made of wool have a label indicating the percentage and kind of wool used.
  • The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (1958) requires that all clothing have a label listing the generic fiber content by percentage.
  • The Flammable Fabrics Act (1953) regulates the sale of highly flammable fabrics used in apparel and prohibits the sale of extremely flammable fabrics.
  • The Permanent Care Labeling Act (1972) requires that all clothing offered for sale in retail stores have a label indicating specific care instructions. New symbols for use in this labeling were introduced in 1997.