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6 Main Types of Fabrics and Their Uses

The Root Origin of the Word "Fabric".

The word "fabric" is derived from many parts of history with its own etymology. But from many credible sources, it is universally accepted that its roots came from the Proto-Indo-European language systems of the world. Today we find that the east has perfected the old tradition of weaving fabric to a clean finish. We can look at countries such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and even Iran for their complete mastery of the skill.

Clothing Bazaar in Pakistan

Clothing Bazaar in Pakistan

Functions of Fabric

Labor is cheap in the east, and vast exploitation of the lower class has introduced capitalistic and feudal systems to many countries around the world. Below are some countries which have very cheap labour:

  1. China
  2. Pakistan
  3. Vietnam
  4. India
  5. Italy
  6. Turkey
  7. Bangladesh
  8. Indonesia
  9. Thailand
  10. Germany

A lot of fabrics are made in factories in countries with low to high end machinery based on cheap agricultural land. These factories can produce, Different lines of clothing, containers such as bags and baskets, carpets are also made, upholstered furnishings, window curtains and shades, table cloths, bedding of all sorts, and also some textile for artistic creativity. All these things are pretty much mainstream production units that major brands use across Europe.

Another category of miscellaneous uses include things like, flags, backpacks, tents, nets, hand cloth, automotive cleaning rags, kites, sails, and parachutes.

Types of Fabrics

Your choice of a fabric depends both on its use and on how it will affect a room's character. Although the range of natural fibers for textiles is limited to wool, silk, linen, and cotton, fabrics are available in more textures, colours, and patterns than ever before.

This is because manufacturers are able to blend fibers together, and with synthetic materials, to make fabrics that are easier to care for, stronger, and more shrink resistant than fabrics made from only one type of natural fiber. When choosing fabrics, bear in mind that texture and the way a fabric drapes are as important as colour and pattern.

Fiber Sources

In the world of textiles, there are only but four main fiber material sources. Animal, plant, mineral, and synthetic. The first of the lot is of natural composition and the last of them is an artificial one. Below I will only bullet point each type:


  • Wool (fur, hair, cashmere, angora)
  • Silk (mulberry silk, wild silk)


  • Straw/Bamboo (straw hat, kapok, cutlery, bottles)
  • Wood Pulp (cotton, hemp cloth, nettle paper)
  • Inner Bark (rope, ladder)
  • Seaweed (textile, alginate)
  • Plant Pulp (rayon)


  • Abestos/Basalt Fibre (tiles, sheeting, panels, fireproof blankets)
  • Glass Fibre (ironing boards, protective fibre, soundproof fibre, beta cloth, reinforced fibre)
  • Metal Fibre (cash bags, gold cloth/bag, jewelry bag, used in construction)


  • Polyester (versatile fibre used in all types of clothing)
  • Aramid (fire-proof clothing, reinforced clothing)
  • Acrylic (Substitute or replacement fibre)
  • Nylon (camping clothing, rope, tent lining)
  • Spandex (activewear, bras, lingerie, swimsuits, sports clothing)
  • Olefin Fibre (winter clothing, waterproof clothing, activewear clothing)
  • Ingeo (substitute and blender with other materials)
  • Lurex (metallic fibre and is used as design or embellishment)
  • Milk (biodegradable, renewable synthetic fibre, protein synthesis, anti-bacterial clothing)
  • Carbon Fibre (composite materials, resin materials, reinforced clothing)
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Lining Fabrics

When you make up a window dressing, you may wish to use lining fabric to protect the main fabric from harsh sunlight, add insulation, or provide a neat finish to the draping. Cotton sateen is suitable for lining. Blackout lining will shut out all light. Calico is a coarse cotton used for inner covers.


Sheer Fabrics

These thin and lightweight fabrics are often used as translucent dressings for windows or can be used as decorative edgings. They include nets, lace, muslin, voile, and broderie anglaise. They gather much easier than thicker materials of a heavyweight, and many are inexpensive. Sheer fabrics are available in a wide variety of plain colours, printed patterns, and mixed weaves. The only slight problem is, that they can be difficult to work with.


Lightweight Fabrics

Lightweight fabrics are made from cotton, silk, and synthetic fibres. Like sheers, they are often translucent and can usually be gathered in quantity. If you use silk for a curtain or blind, consider lining it - silk can be damaged if exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period.


Light to Medium Fabrics

Possessing a finely woven surface texture, which is an ideal medium for printing detailed patterns, these fabrics are known for their decorative appearance and practical qualities. You can use them for a wide variety of projects, bed furnishings, tablecloths, napkins, and cushion covers. Many of the fabrics in this category handle well and are easy to clean.


Medium-Weight Fabrics

The majority of general-purpose furnishing fabrics are produced in a medium weight. Easy to work with, these fabrics are adaptable and useful throughout the home. Popular fibres include cotton, linen, and mixtures of synthetic and natural fibres that contain wool and silk. Many medium-weight fabrics are suitable for simple upholstery.


Heavyweight Fabrics

Heavyweight fabrics are bulky and present a warm and comfortable appearance to all manner of soft furnishings. Because they are generally very hard wearing, they are often used for upholstery. Many of these fabrics can be very difficult to work with and shape, particularly when making up large curtains or loose covers.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Temoor Dar

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