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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 cloth).

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 the subject.

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We hope you have enjoyed reading about fabrics and textiles in our fabric news directory.

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