Textiles - Materials and Components

  • Created by: remybray
  • Created on: 22-04-16 19:06


  • Fibres are fine hair-like structures.
  • They are either short lengths (stable fibres) or longer lengths (filament fibres).
  • Yarns made from filament fibres are smooth, whereas yarns made from stable fibres tend to be hairier.
  • Stable fibres are spun (twisted together) to produce yarns. Filaments can be spun or used as they are.
  • Fabrics are made up of fibres. These fibres have either been twisted into yarns and then knitted or woven together to make a length of the fabric, or they have been formed into a web and heat pressed or glued together as a non-woven fabric.
  • A fabric can be made up of one or more fibres and could have a special finish applied.
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Natural fibres

  • Natural fibres come from natural sources - plants and animals.
  • Fibres from animals include wool, silk, alpaca, angora, camel hair, cashmere, mohair and vicuna.
  • Fibres from plants include cotton, linen, jute, hemp and ramie.
  • Cotton comes from the fine hairs on the seeds in a ripe seed pod of a cotton plant.
  • Linen comes from the fibrous stem of a flax plant.
  • Kapok hair cells come from the kapok fruit.
  • Hemp fibres come from the hemp plant.
  • Wool comes from the hair of a sheep, often called a coat or fleece.
  • Silk is a fibre from the cocoon of a silkworm.
  • Cashmere comes from a goat's fine undercoat.
  • Camel hair is collected from camels.
  • Mohair is from the angora goat.
  • Angora hair is from the angora rabbit.
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Natural fibres

  • Natural fibres usually come in staple lengths. The exception is silk - the inner layer of the cocoon of the silkworm comprises long filament fibres.
  • After they're harvested, they're cleaned and straightened before being spun into a yarn.
  • These fibres come from renewable resources and the fibres are biodegradable, and often recyclable. Therefore, natural fibres are fairly sustainable.
  • In general, natural fibres are absorbent and strong when dry, but have poor resistance to biological damage, e.g. moths and mould.


  • Physical - Strong, absorbent, cool to wear, hard-wearing, creases easily.
  • Aesthetic - Smooth, versatile, easy to care for and enhance.
  • Advantages - Strong when wet, durable, reasonably inexpensive, environmentally sustainable, comfortable to wear.
  • Disadvantages - Creases easily, burns easily, shrinks.
  • E.g. Calico, Corduroy, Denim, Drill, Poplin, Velvet.
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Natural fibres


  • Physical - Very hard-wearing, cool next to skin, strong, absorbent and creases easily, has no drape.
  • Aesthetic - Has a natural look and dull lustre, good handle.
  • Advantages - Stronger when wet, smooth finish, very hard-wearing, highly absorbent, comfortable fabric to wear.
  • Disadvantages - Creases badly, can be expensive.
  • E.g. Duck, Huckabuck.


  • Physical - Absorbent, soft and comfortable, cool and warm.
  • Aesthetic - Natural sheen, handles well and strong when dry.
  • Advantages - Soft, smooth sheen, lustrous finish, drapes well, comfortable to wear next to the skin.
  • Disadvantages - Expensive, can be weaker when wet and may not wash well, may crease easily
  • E.g. Chiffon, Crepe, Dupion, Duchess, Organza, Taffeta.
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Natural fibres


  • Physical - Warm, absorbent, low flammability.
  • Aesthetic - Good handle, elasticity.
  • Advantages - Warm, can be produced in a wide range of weights of fabrics, comfortable, does not crease easily.
  • Disadvantages - May shrink when washed, absorbent so takes a long time to dry, may feel uncomfortable and itchy next to skin.
  • E.g. Lambs, Merino, Superwash, Felt, Harris tweed, Gaberdine.
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Synthetic fibres

  • Synthetic fibres are artificial or man-made fibres.
  • They are made from polymers (long chains of molecules), which come from coal, oil or other petrol-based chemicals. E.g. polyester, LYCRA and acrylic are produced from oil, and nylon is produced from coal.
  • The polymers are melted or dissolved in solution. The liquid is then forced through tiny holes and hardened to form filament fibres.
  • The filaments are stretched into a yarn which is wound onto spools, or chopped into staple lengths.
  • They are made from non-renewable sources, so they are less sustainable than other types of fibre.
  • Synthetic fibres can be developed to have many different appearances and properties.
  • They can be made as filament or staple length fibres, they can be bulked or crimped to give more volume, they can be made up as microfibres, they can encapsulate chemicals (to give anti-bacterial properties or to be perfume scented).
  • In general, they are resistant to biological damage, and can be changed by heating to form different shapes and textures. They are not very absorbent and can be hard to dye.
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Synthetic fibres


  • Physical - Strong, hard-wearing, good elasticity, thermoplastic, does not decompose, melts as it burns.
  • Aesthetic - Versatile, can be made into many finishes.
  • Advantages - Strong when wet, durable, reasonably inexpensive, resists bacteria.
  • Disadvantages - Poor absorbency, can be damaged by sunlight, making it discolour and become weaker.
  • E.g. Nylon, Tactel, Tactel Micro.


  • Physical - Very strong when wet and dry, flame resistant, thermoplastic, does not decompose
  • Aesthetic - Versatile, can be made into many finishes.
  • Advantages - Strong when wet, dries quickly, cheap, hard-wearing, resists bacteria.
  • Disadvantages - Very poor absorbency.
  • E.g. Terylene, Polyester fleece, Trevira, Finesse, Miratec, Dacron.
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Synthetic fibres


  • Physical - Strong but weaker when wet, thermoplastic, shrinks from heat and burns slowly, then melts.
  • Aesthetic - Soft, can be made into fine and coarse staple fibres.
  • Advantages - Can be made warm, insulating and soft.
  • Disadvantages - Poor absorbency.
  • E.g. Courtelle, Amicor.


  • Physical - Very elastic, lightweight but still very strong, resists chemicals and biological damage from perspiration, very hard-wearing.
  • Aesthetic - Medium to coarse filament fibres.
  • Advantages - Very stretchy, keeps its shape, can resist sun and sea, lightweight but strong.
  • Disadvantages - Very poor absorbency.
  • E.g. Lycra.
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Regenerated fibres

  • Regenerated fibres are made from natural materials (usually cellulose from wood pulp) that are chemically treated to produce fibres.
  • Different fibres are made by using different chemicals.
  • Regenerated fibres can be filament or staple; they can be given many textures and properties like synthetic fibres.
  • The most recent developments in regenerated fibres have made them more environmentally friendly by making the production of the fibre low energy (low in the use of fossil fuels) and by using closed-loop processes (waste created in manufacture is reused in the production process).
  • Viscose, rayon, acetate, triacetate, modal, Tencel and Lyocell are all regenerated fibres.
  • Viscose can be used as a filament yarn, woven or knitted into lustrous fabrics and crepe fabrics, but as a staple fibre can blend with other fibres to add lustre and absorbency.
  • Acetate and triacetate are often known as cheap silk alternative owing to their elegant drape and lustre.
  • Tencel and Lyocell are made so they are fully recyclable and biodegradeable; high strength when wet, minimal shrinkage and good dye absorbency make them a popular blended fibre.
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Regenerated fibres

Regenerated fibres are:

  • Highly absorbent
  • Washable
  • Soft
  • Smooth
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Have good drape
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Blended and mixed fibres

  • A blended fibre is a combination of two or more fibres spun together when the yarn is made. E.g. the cotton and polyester blend - cotton is cool, soft, strong and comfortable, and polyester is hard-wearing, lightweight, a poor absorber and elastic; combining them gives the comfort and cool feel of cotton but with the hard-wearing, quick-drying and crease-resistant properties of polyester.
  • A mixed fibre is where one type of yarn is mixed with at least one other in the fabric production. E.g. the mix of cotton yarns with Lycra yarns - to give extra stretch and comfort to denim jeans, fitted shirts and swimwear.

The reasons for blended and mixed fibres

  • To improve the appearance of a fabric (texture, colour and tone)
  • To improve the quality of the fabric so that it is more durable, stronger and can be more easily cared for.
  • To improve the handle of a fabric so that it drapes better, is easier to sew and can keep its shape well.
  • To improve the profitability of a fabric so that it is cheaper to produce, and more desirable to customers.
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Fabric construction : woven

Woven fabrics 

  • In a woven fabric, the yarns are interlaces at right angles to each other during the process of weaving.
  • The yarn that is horizontal is called the weft yarn. The yarn that goes vertically is called the warp yarn.
  • The selvedge is at the end of a woven piece of fabric where the weft yarns wrape around the warp yarns. It is an edge that doesn't fray.
  • The bias is the diagonal or cross grain.


  • Edges do not fray until cut, as they have a selvedge. They fray easily when cut.
  • They can be woven at different densities and have different weights (the thickness of the fibre of the yarn and/or the denseness of the weave or knit).
  • The fabric is strongest on the grain line.
  • The fabric can stretch on the bias (diagonal) of the fabric.
  • They are stronger and firmer the closer the weave is.
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Fabric construction : woven

Plain weave

  • The simplest and tighest weave.
  • The weft yarn passes over and under alternate warp yarns, making it unpatterned.
  • The closer the yarns, the denser the fabric.
  • The fabric looks the same on both sides and is the cheapest to make.
  • It is hard-wearing -  strong and holds its shape well. It has a smooth finish (good for printing on).
  • E.g. calico, taffeta, cotton shirting, muslin, Habutai silk, voile.

Twill weave

  • The weft yarn goes over more than one warp yarn (2 or 4).
  • This creates a diagonal pattern on the surface of the fabric.
  • It is stronger and drapes better than plain weave.
  • E.g. tartan, tweed, denim and gabardine.
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Fabric construction : woven

Satin weave

  • Satin weaves (or sateen weaves) are created in a uniform way in which either the weft yarn floats over 4 or more warp yarns to give a real sheen to the fabric.
  • The long weft yarns on the surface (called floats) catch the light, so satin weaves make shiny fabrics.
  • The floats can snag, so the fabric is quite delicate and doesn't resist abrasion.
  • E.g. satin, crepe-backed satin and silk charmeuse.

Other weaves

  • Jacquard weaves have complex patterns, such as flowers, leaves and lettering. E.g. on white tablecloths, evening wear and soft furnishings, such as curtains.
  • Pile weaves are woven with an extra layer of weft yarns that forms loops on the surface of the fabric, which can be left as loops or cut. Velvet and corduroy are examples of cut-pile weaves and terry towelling is a looped pile.
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Fabric construction : non-woven

  • Non-woven fabrics are made in two main ways: they are either felted or bonded.
  • The fabrics use fibres rather than yarns.

Properties of non-woven fabrics:

  • Not very strong
  • Can be made in a range of weights
  • Do not fray
  • Can be made into moulded shapes
  • Can be made from recycled fibres
  • Can be made to be soluble
  • Can be made to soften with heat and act like a glue
  • Can easily pill (bobble form on the surface)
  • May be weaker when wet
  • Can be made permeable
  • Are cheap to produce
  • Will also take on some of the properties of the fibre used in the web
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Fabric construction : non-woven

Felted fabrics

  • Wool felt is the most common non-woven fabric and is produced by using short staple fibres from wool or other animal hairs.
  • Wool is an ideal fibre because its surface has natural hook-like scales, which, when moisture, heat and vigorous movement are applied, interlock with each other.
  • Felt is made by combining pressure, moisture and heat to interlock a mat of wool fibres.
  • The heat and damp conditions cause the fibres to curl up, and the scales locking together prevents the fibres from straightening out again.
  • Felt can be used for carpet underlay, craft material, hats, jewellery and snooker table coverings.


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Fabric construction : non-woven

Bonded fabrics

  • These are webs of fibres held together by glue, stitches, needle-punching or heat.
  • Dry laid - a web of fibres is laid in a drum and hot air is injected to bond the fibres together.
  • Wet laid - a web of fibres is mixed with a solvent that softens the fibres and releases a glue-like substance that bonds the fibres together and then the web is laid out to dry.
  • Direct spun - the fibres are spun on to a conveyer belt and glues are sprayed on to the fibres, which are then pressed to bond; if the fibres are thermoplastic (will change shape with heat) then the glue is not needed in this process.
  • Bonded fabrics are used for disposable products such as cloths, medical masks and table linen. They are also used for interfacings for strengthening and stiffening clothing.

Laminated fabrics

  • Laminated fabrics are made by bonding two or more fabrics together.
  • Many fabrics require extra insulation or protection, and foam is bonded to provide this.
  • Making a fabric breathable and waterprood may require lamination of a membrane, as in Gortex and Sympatex.
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Fabric construction : knitted

  • A knitted fabric is made of interlocking loops, using one or more yarns.
  • These loops trap air, making knitted fabrics good insulators.
  • There are two types of knitted fabric: weft knit and warp knit.

Weft-knitted fabrics

  • The yarn runs across the fabric, making interlocking loops with the row of yarn beneath.
  • They have V-shaped loops on the face (right side) and horizontal ribs on the wrong side.
  • These fabrics stretch and can lose their shape easily.
  • If the yarn breaks it can unravel and form a ladder.
  • Weft-knit fabrics can be produced by hand or machine.
  • Fabric has high elasticity and stretch.
  • The interlocking loops trap air and retain heat.
  • There are two sides to the fabric and they are easily identifiable.
  • E.g. Single jersey: used for T-shirts, sweaters, ribbed socks and jumpers, sportswear and fake fur.
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Fabric construction : knitted

Warp-knitted fabrics

  • The yarn loops in a vertical direction; the fabric is held together by interlocking vertical loops on alternate sides.
  • Warp-knitted fabrics can only be machine made.
  • The fabric is elastic but can keep its shape.
  • These fabrics are hard to unravel and are less likely to ladder so can be cut and sewn more easily than weft knit.
  • The production system is fast.
  • The machine is complicated and therefore more expensive to produce.
  • E.g. Lock knit: used for bed sheets, furnishing fabrics, velour, swimwear fabrics, lace and nets, and fleece fabrics.
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Fabric finishes

Types of finish

  • Physical - where a machine or tool is used to change the fabric.
  • Chemical - where chemicals are used together to change the fabric.
  • Biological - where bacteria and enzymes are used on cellulose-based fibres.
  • Coated - where the fabric is coated on one side with a substance.

Why fabric finishes are used

  • To enhance the appearance of a fabric, e.g. sheen, pattern and colour.
  • To change the fabric's texture, e.g. smoothness and softness.
  • To change the wearing properties, e.g. crease resistance, stain resistance.
  • To change the after care requirements, e.g. easy wash, quicker drying times, colourfast, less shrinkage.
  • To improve the drape or feel of a fabric.
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Fabric finishes

Chemical finishes:

  • Water-repellent - Chemicals (e.g. silicone) can be applies to the surface of the fabric to stop water droplets from passing through. The droplets of water remain on the surface. These finishes don't make the fabric waterproof so if the surface becomes saturated, water will leak through.
  • Stain-resistant - Stain-resistant resins (silicone and fluorine or a Teflon coating) are applied to the surface of the fabric. Dirt is prevented from clinging to the surface of the fabric. These finishes are often used on carpets and upholstery.
  • Crease-resistant - Chemicals or resins are applied to the fabric. The fabric feels stiffer and creases less. The finish is durable, but care is needed when washing and ironing.
  • Flame-resistant - Flame retardant finishes are chemicals that make fabrics less likely to catch fire. They are often used on flammable fibres like cotton. Products they are used on include workwear for welders, racing drivers' overalls, night clothes and fabric for soft furnishings.
  • Shrink-resistant - Fibre scales (found on wool) are removed with chlorine, or resins block scales. Shrinkage in washing is reduced.
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Fabric finishes

Mechanical finishes:

  • Brushing - Fabrics can be brushed by passing them between rollers covered with wire brushers. Brushing fabric gives it a soft, raised surface. The raised surface traps air and keeps the body warmer. Brushing is a permanent finish.
  • Embossing - Engraved rollers create a relief pattern on the fabric. Texture and appearance change due to pattern embossed.
  • Calendering - Heavy heated rollers press the surface of the fabric. The fabric is smoother and shinier/has improved sheen. The finish is not permanent and wears off over time, but it is fairly durable.
  • Pressing - Presses smooth the surface of the fabric. There is improved handle and a smoother surface; pressing is often used on wool fabrics.
  • Shrinkage - Natural fibres which are prone to shrinking (e.g. wool and cotton) can be pre-shrunk. Fabric is steamed and placed over a vibrating conveyer belt. This reduces further shrinkage later.
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New fabrics and technologies

Smart fabrics

  • A smart fabric can sense, react and adapt to certain conditions.
  • Heat - thermochromic colour encapsulated into the surface of fabrics or printed on the surface will react to heat and change colour.
  • Moisture - solvation chromism has been developed mainly for disposable non-woven textiles where a fabric changes colour when wet. E.g. babies' nappies.
  • Light - photochromic fabrics are dyed to respond to light conditions and change colour. These are particularly good for military use, to reduce the need for camouflage net.

Conductive fabrics

  • Conductive fabrics are starting to be used to integrate electronics into textile products.
  • They conduct electricity through conductive fibres or coatings, while still being comfortable to wear. E.g. Gorix is a conductive fibre used in heated car seats and motorbike clothing. 
  • Conductive fabrics can be used in: sensors in clothes that monitor heart rate and blood pressure, washable electronic switches integrated into clothing to operate things like MP3 players and mobile phones, car seats and motorbike clothing.
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New fabrics and technologies

  • Kevlar is a very strong polymer that's made chemically and can be spun into strong fibres. The fibres are woven to give a fabric that's really strong and resistant to abrasion. It's used in bulletproof vests and clothing for motorcyclists.
  • Nomex is another polymer that's spun into fibres. It's very fire-resistant and is used in firefighters' clothing and racing drivers' overalls.
  • Tencel is a modern, regenerated fibre. It combines the best properties of natural and synthetic fibres, and can be given many different textures. It is also made in an environmentally friendly way - by using sustainable wood pulp and minimising energy use and waste.
  • The Fastskin swimsuit has been developed by Speedo. It's designed to mimic a shark's skin - the rough surface reduces drag in the water to allow the swimmer to go faster.


  • This means imitating a living bio system. This process has been used in textile technology by mimicking the natural way a leaf breathes and regulates temperature.
  • Stomatex fabric keeps the wearer dry and comfortable during exercise.
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New fabrics and technologies


  • Has been developed in textiles to allow fibres and fabrics to be embedded with microscopic bubbles of perfumes, anti-bacterial properties, anti-allergic properties, mosquito repellents and odour neutralisers.
  • E.g. in antibacterial socks and scented lingerie.


  • Existing fibres and fabrics can be modified using nanotechnology to give them new properties. 
  • This technology is being used to create antibacterial fabrics by attaching nanoparticles of silver. These fabrics have medical uses, e.g. face masks and dressings, odour-free socks.
  • Fabric that is coated with nanoparticles will resist and break down dirt and stains - making self-cleaning fabrics.
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New fabrics and technologies


  • Microfibres are really thin fibres, which are usually synthetic (e.g. polyester or polyamide).
  • They can be woven so tightly that they stop water droplets from penetrating, but let water vapour (sweat) escape - so the fabric is water repellent and breathable.

Laminated fabrics

  • Lamination is another method of improving a fabric's properties. Laminated fabrics are made up of two or more different layers that are stuck together.
  • Gore-Tex has a membrane which contains lots of tiny pores wich allow water vapour (sweat) to escape, but are too small for bigger rain droplets to pass through - it's both waterproof and breathable.

Fibre optics

  • Used in trainers for illuminated logos and fibre-optic sensors are inserted in military garments to detect harmful chemicals.
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New fabrics and technologies

Phospherescent textiles

  • Used for glow-in-the-dark fashions.

Buoyancy and inflatable textiles

  • E.g. thermafloat in buoyancy aids and life jackets, and inflatable yarns in swimwear for children and blow-up bras.
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Choosing fabrics

When choosing a fabric you should think about:

  • Warmth - this can be achieved by using fibres which are good insulators of heat, e.g. wool or acrylic, or using knitted fabrics as air trapped in the loops keeps you warm.
  • After care - some products will need washing regularly, so you should use machine-washable fibres which can be washed at high temperatures, e.g. cotton, and fibres that dry quickly and resist creasing, e.g. polyester.
  • Durability - use strong, hard-wearing fibres, e.g. cotton, polyester or nylon. Use a plain or twill weave for strength.
  • Appearance - you may want to use a fabric that drapes well, e.g. viscose or silk, or to make it look smooth and shiny choose a satin weave.
  • Wearability and comfort - using fibres which are soft (cotton and viscose), breathable (absorbent natural and regenerated fibres) and stretchy (mix in synthetic fibres to add elasticity.
  • Safety and flammability - some products need to be fire resistant, e.g. upholstery and night clothes. They could be made from a flame proof fabric such as Nomex or given a flame retardant finish.
  • Stain resistance - woven fabrics can be scrubbed clean. Use a stain resistant finish.
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Fabric specification and labelling

A fabric specification is a detailed list of the requirements for the fabric of a particular product.


  • All textile products must be labelled with a range of information to inform the customer about the product's care, safety, quality standard, size, fibre content and where it came from.
  • A care label is a fabric label stitched onto a product. 
  • The care label includes: fibre content, care symbols, extra care instructions and possibly the size.
  • Textile products are often tested for safety and quality so the consumer can be confident in the product they are buying. These tests are carried out either by the British Standards Institute (BSI Kitemark) or to achieve the European Safety Standard (CE mark).
  • Children's products can undergo tests for safety, the Lion Mark for toy safety is a safety label awarded after testing.
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Dyeing textiles involves immersing or dipping a fibre, yarn or fabric in a colour pigment to change its colour.

Chemical dyeing

  • Uses pigment (chemical) dyes with salts added to fix the dye. 

Natural dyeing

  • Natural and vegetable dyes are more environmentally friendly.
  • These work best with natural and regenerated fibres and fabrics.

Industrial dyeing

  • Involves dyeing a huge amount of fabric at a time. The fabric is dyed a uniform colour. It can be done continuously (very long lengths of fabric are dyed the same colour in a continuous process) or in batches (a batch of fabric is dyed one colour, then another batch with a different colour).
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Dip dyeing

  • Fabric is dipped but not immerse to take up some dye on only part of the fabric.

Resist dyeing

  • Part of the fabric is made to resist the absorption of dye to give a patterned effect. 
  • A resist is something which prevents the dye from reaching the fabric.

Tie dyeing

  • Fabric is wrapped, tied or folded in sections to stop the absorption of the dye.
  • The fabric is then put in the dye bath and left for the required time.
  • Rubber bands can be used to create a resist.


  • The resist method of using melted wax or gutta, which is applied to the fabric in patterns to resist the dye when dry. Natural fabrics (silk or cotton) work best for this method.
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Printing is the method of apllying colour in the form of ink, dye or paint to make decorative patterns.

Materials with a tight weave are best for printing on because they have a smooth surface for the dye to be applied to.

Block printing

  • A block made from wood, rubber, sponge or metal is shaped into a relief pattern (a raised design).
  • Dye is applied to the block and it is hand-printed or stamped onto the fabric.

Screen printing

  • The screen is a frame with fine mesh covering it.
  • A stencil is cut out from card or acetate by hand or using CAD/CAM and put beneath the screen (on top of the fabric).
  • Dye is pushed through the mesh fabric with a squeegee tool. The design is left on the fabric.
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Commercial flat-bed screen printing

  • Several screens are used - one for each colour.
  • The fabric passes under the screens on a conveyor belt and the colours are applied one after the other.

Rotary screen printing

  • This is similar to flat-bed screen printing but the screens are on cylinders.
  • This is a really fast and widely used commercial method of printing.

Engraved roller printing

  • Metal rollers are engraved with a pattern and dye reservoirs apply the colour as needed.
  • This is an industrial method for large print runs.


  • Stencils are made from card or acetate. The pattern is cut out and then the dye is sponged or brushed into the cut-out areas.
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Digital printing

  • A design can be made on the computer using CAD and then either transferred onto paper, which can be transferred onto the fabric with heat, or it can be directly printed onto the fabric using a textile printer.
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Decoration and enhancement


  • Involves cutting shapes out of fabric and sewing them onto a textile product.
  • Padded applique is when applique is padded by placing wadding or stuffing between the fabric pieces. It creates a 3D effect.
  • Reverse applique is when holes are cut out of the main fabric and the applique is sewn behind the hole on the inside of the product.


  • This is a technique often used to add insulating properties to products.
  • Quilting uses wadding between two layers of fabric which are then stitched together in straight lines or in a pattern.


  • Embroidery is decorative stitching - it can be done by hand or machine.

Beading, sequins and other components

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Decoration and enhancement


  • Often used to recycle fabrics.
  • Fabrics are cut into geometric shapes and then stitched together to create a pattern and a larger piece of fabric.

Manipulation of fabric:


  • Requires folding the fabric on the vertical length and fixing the pleat at one end with stitching. A tuck is where the fold is held at both ends with stitching and is often horizontal.


  • Small stitches pulled together to reduce fullness. Elasticated thread can be used to gather parts of the fabric


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Decoration and enhancement

Textured effects

  • Distressed effects, such as brushing, shredding, fraying, sanding and stone washing are popular methods of creating decoration and aged effects on products.
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A fastening is a component used for closing products for fit, security or enhancement.


  • They can be made out of plastic or metal.
  • Can be concealed (invisible zip).
  • They are one of the most secure fastenings and are reasonably quick and easy to apply to products.

Toggles and buttons

  • These are sewn on and require a buttonhole or loop to fasten to.

Hooks and eyes

  • Used when a flat fastening is needed.
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  • Nylon hooks on the rough half attach to soft loops on the smooth half.
  • It washes well and is hard-wearing but can pick up other fibres over time.

Press studs (poppers)

  • They can be used to fasten items that need to be opened or closes quickly.
  • They can be made of metal or plastic.



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Components are extras that are added to the fabric used to make a textile item.

The role of components is to aid construction (thread), to allow for opening and closing (a zip), to add strength (interfacing), to embellish (beads), to insulate (wadding), to add shape (shoulder pads) and generally improve the quality of the product.


  • To hold fabric pieces together, to add fastenings, to add decoration.

Trimmings (lace, ribbons, braids, laces, beads and sequins)

  • To add decoration and decorative edges.
  • Can be used as ties or fastenings when threaded through eyelets or holes.


  • To aid sewing, add strength, give shape and structure, or to be used as a bonding glue.
  • e.g. Bondaweb
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  • Small fabric badges that are sewn on to add decoration.
  • Can be used to show membership of clubs or teams.


  • To add rigidity and structure.

Electronic components

  • LED bulbs are used to make products visible in the dark.
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