The words fabric and cloth are used in textile assembly trades (such
as tailoring and dressmaking) as synonyms for textile. However,
there are subtle differences in these terms in specialized usage.
Textile refers to any material made of interlacing fibres. A fabric
is a material made through weaving, knitting, spreading, crocheting,
or bonding that may be used in production of further goods (garments,
etc.). Cloth may be used synonymously with fabric but is often a
finished piece of fabric used for a specific purpose (e.g., table
Textiles have an assortment of uses, the most common of which are
for clothing and for containers such as bags and baskets.
Fashion designers commonly rely on textile designs to set their
fashion collections apart from others. Some designers can be easily
recognized by their signature print driven designs. However,
many other fashion designers utilize common fabrics for clothing
but distinguish from one another by garment silhouette, brands name,
trimming, and other methods.
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Weaving is a textile production method which involves interlacing
a set of longer threads (called the warp) with a set of crossing
threads (called the weft). This is done on a frame or machine known
as a loom, of which there are a number of types. Some weaving is
still done by hand, but the vast majority is mechanized. Knitting
and crocheting involve interlacing loops of yarn, which are formed
either on a knitting needle or on a crochet hook, together in a
line. The two processes are different in that knitting has several
active loops at one time, on the knitting needle waiting to interlock
with another loop, while crocheting never has more than one active
loop on the needle.
Textiles can be made from many materials. These materials come from
four main sources: animal (wool, silk), plant (cotton, flax, jute,
etc.) and synthetic (nylon, polyester, acrylic, etc.). Animal
textiles are commonly made from hair, fur, skin or silk (in the
silkworms case). Wool refers to the hair of the domestic goat or
sheep, which is distinguished from other types of animal hair.
Woollen refers to a bulkier
yarn produced from carded, non-parallel fibre, while worsted
refers to a finer yarn spun from longer fibers which have been combed
to be parallel. Wool is commonly used for warm clothing. Cashmere,
the hair of the Indian cashmere goat, and mohair, the hair of the
North African angora goat, are types of wool known for their softness.
Other animal textiles which are made from hair or fur are alpaca
wool, vicuña wool, llama wool, and camel hair, generally used in
the production of coats, jackets, ponchos, blankets, and other warm
coverings. Angora refers to the long, thick, soft hair of the angora
rabbit. Qiviut is the fine inner wool of the muskox.
In the past, all textiles were made from natural fibers, including
plant, animal, and mineral sources. In the 20th century, these were
supplemented by artificial fibers made from petroleum.
There is much more to know about fabric and textile production.
You can learn more by reading fabric news articles, books, and viewing
educational websites. Take the time to do more research on