What are natural fabrics?
Natural fabrics are textiles made from all natural fibres and substances. These can come from animals or plants and have been used for thousands of years to produce clothing, interiors, furnishings and more.
Some of the most popular natural fibre options available include:Animal fibres
- Silk – Developed in ancient China from silk worms, known as “the queen of fabrics”
- Cashmere – very soft and luxurious, from the neck hair of Cashmere and other goats
- Wool – rich and insulating fibre from sheep
- Mohair – fine and silky and very soft, from the Angora goat
- Angora wool – fine, luxurious, and soft from the Angora rabbit
- Alpaca wool – A luxurious wool used to make high-end items
- Cotton – the world’s most used natural fibre from the cotton plant
- Bamboo – soft and moisture wicking fibre growing in popularity
- Flax – a very strong vegetable fibre and one of the oldest
- Jute – very strong and used to make sackcloth
- Hemp – the fibre from the cannabis plant
- Coir – coarse and short fibre from coconuts
How are they manufactured?
Each type of natural fabric is manufactured slightly differently. Natural fibres can be spun to make thread, filaments and rope. When these are woven, knitted, bonded or matted, they become the natural materials we all know. Textiles, such as natural linen fabrics, are one of the oldest materials known and the only thing that has changed slightly is the manufacturing process.
It starts with the fibre and how that is extracted as well as treated to become a thread or yarn. As some natural fibres are plant derived and others animal, the extraction and process methods are different. Wool including Angora and Cashmere, for example, is either sheared or combed, whereas silk comes from the cocoon of the Mulberry silkworm.
Plant fibres come from harvesting the specific plant or crop and following exact methods to obtain the correct form of the fibre.
Fibre is the base of all textiles, which are made in 3 stages:
- Spinning – fibres are first spun to make yarns (which are used to create the fabric)
- Weaving/Knitting – this is when the yarns are made into textiles
- Finishing – textiles are finished to make them more useful for their intended purpose
Natural materials have been used for centuries from all corners of the world. They are utilised predominantly in the fashion and clothing industry, however they are also used in furnishings, interiors, insulators and technology.
Thanks to their myriad of properties and the fact that they are produced sustainably, natural fabrics have continued to grow in popularity.
Properties of natural fabrics
Natural fabrics are made from fibres, which come from plants or animals. A lot of people prefer them due to their plethora of benefits and properties. Some of these can include:
Advantages of natural fabrics
You can find natural fabrics online easily, with a wealth of options available. Many people opt for natural over synthetic thanks to the fabric’s soft and breathable natures and their impact on the environment. These fabrics are largely sustainable, biodegradable and carbon neutral which is a huge advantage.
Natural fabrics can also be blended together with other fibres, both natural and synthetic, to bring even more uses to the table. They are versatile as well as strong and when mixed together, their qualities can be multiplied, to include easy to care for, easy to wash, colour durability and lots more.