Properties of natural fibres

Table of the main natural fibres and their properties.

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Natural Fibres
Cellulose Protein
Cotton Linen Silk Wool
Lustre Continuous filament gives the
fibre a lustrous appearance.
Warmth Good conductor of heat, making it Good conductor of heat making it cool to Silk has a soft and luxurious feel Crimps in the fibres and scales on the
cool to wear. Brushed cotton wear. and a warm handle. Poor fibres keep the fibres apart trapping air.
increase its ability to hold air and conductor of heat so retains body Wool retains body heat making it warm to
makes it slightly warmer. heat, yet due to its fineness it is wear. The air spaces created by a
cool to wear in the summer. knitted structure, makes the garments
warm to wear.
Resilience Has no resilience, if creased the Is not resilient and creases badly and Very resilient and has a beautiful Due to its natural crimp wool is very
creases will stay in. A resin is has no elasticity. It can be blended with drape. resilient. Creases will shake out.
needed to set pleats into place. other fibres like polyester to improve its Knitting wool gives it added elasticity.
Absorbency Absorbent fibre making it suitable to Absorbs water well. Is absorbent but dries quickly. Wool absorbs moisture which is useful
wear next to the skin. Can be made When wrapped in a towel the when wearing it next to the skin.
more absorbent by increasing the fabric is usually dry enough for Moisture evaporates slowly so there is no
surface area by having a looped ironing. feeling of rapid cooling, which is useful
warp thread. in wear. Wool needs to be hung on a flat
surface or to be supported in the drying
process due to the weight of the fabric.
Washing Cotton fibre can withstand harsh Strong fibre and becomes stronger when Needs to be handled carefully Wool needs to be washed on a low
treatment. If it has had a finish wet due to the length of the fibres. Can and washed in cool water with temperature to stop shrinking or felting.
applied to it, it will need to be withstand high temperatures but if a soap flakes. Wash by kneading Rubbing, careless handling and alkali
treated more carefully and washed finish has been applied it will need to be and squeezing not rubbing or will also cause the wool to shrink or felt.
at a lower temperature. handled with more care. twisting.
Effect of Cotton can withstand a temperature Withstands high temperature unless Iron with a moderate temperature. Wool will press well with a warm iron.
Heat f 210°C and needs a high treated. Should be ironed damp, dried Do not press creases into silk as Wool will scorch easily so a damp cloth
temperature iron. with the iron and then aired well. it will break the fibres. could be used when ironing.
Strength Strong fibre and its strength Is strong, hardwearing but damaged by Is lightweight and fine but is Loses strength when wet. It is damaged
increases when wet. Can withstand acid. strong and wears well. It is by alkali substances and chlorine
rubbing, boiling, and change of damaged by acids, alkalis and bleaches however resists acids.
temperature, alkalis and bleach. bleaches.
Sewing Cotton is easy to handle and easy Dress weight linen frays badly. Needs to Silk is a slippery fabric and is Wool is generally knitted unless it is
to sew. be neatened carefully. Zigzag or likely to pucker. To avoid blended with another fibre to create
overlocking are suitable. puckering put tissue paper along garments such as skirts and trousers.
the seam.

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Natural Fibres
Flammabilit Brushed cotton is flammable and Linen burns with a yellow/orange flame Burns slowly. Wool smoulders and is reluctant to burn.
y must have a flame retardant finish. giving a smell of burning grass and a It does not flare up. Smells like burning
Flammable and flares up, smells of grey skeletal ash. hair.
wood and leaves a white ash.
Dyeing Takes up dyes very well and can Does not absorb dyes as well as cotton. Takes dye well.…read more


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