Fabric Guide
UK                  

Fabric Guide

In this section we provide a brief explanation of the main fibres which contemporary clothing is made from, to assist you in making informed purchasing decisions.

Fibres, yarns, and fabrics
Blending fibres
Fibre brand names
What makes a good fibre / fabric?
Absorbency, wickability and air permeability
Natural fibres and man-made/synthetic fibres
Natural fibres
Man-made and synthetic fibres

Fabric Guide SHUKR would like to encourage all of its customers to familiarize themselves with the products they buy. This applies not just to SHUKR clothing, but to any product which we, as Muslims, purchase in the market place. There are many considerations to bear in mind when purchasing products, including questions like: What is it made from? (very important for food items which might contain alcohol or animal by-products); Where was it produced? (maybe you might not want to buy products produced in certain countries or under certain conditions); Who produced it? (maybe you might want to avoid products produced by certain companies).


Fibres, yarns, and fabrics Before we dive into an explanation of the different types of fibres, we should first be clear what we mean by the term "fibre", as well as a few other common textile terms. A fibre is a thread-like tissue, either natural or manufactured, which is twisted into yarns, and then used in the production of a fabric, the end material which clothes are manufactured from. Yarns are used to create fabrics by either weaving or knitting. Woven fabrics are composed of two sets of yarns. One set of yarns, the warp, runs along the length of the fabric. The other set of yarns, the fill or weft, is perpendicular to the warp. Woven fabrics are held together by weaving the warp and the fill yarns over and under each other. Knitted fabrics, on the other hand, are made from only one set of yarns, all running in the same direction. Some knits have their yarns running along the length of the fabric, while others have their yarns running across the width of the fabric. Knit fabrics are held together by looping the yarns around each other. Knitting creates ridges in the resulting fabric. Wales are the ridges that run lengthwise in the fabric; courses run crosswise.


Blending fibres A brief mention should also be made of the process of blending fibres. Often, one will find that a garment fabric is not made up of just one type of fibre, but rather a blend of two or more, in order to enhance the performance and improve the aesthetic qualities of the fabric. Fibres are selected and blended in particular proportions so that the fabric will retain the best characteristics of each fibre. Blending is usually done using various combinations of manufactured fibres or manufactured and natural fibres.


Fibre brand names Note, finally, that many manufacturers have trademarked names for their particular fibre brand. For example, Lycra is DuPont's brand of the spandex fibre, and Tencell is the Acordis' group brand name for their lyocell fibre. You might see these brand names on your clothing labels as well.


What makes a good fibre / fabric? There are many characteristics of fibres and fabrics to take into account:

Abrasion resistance / durability:

The ability of a fabric to resist wear from the continual rubbing of its surface.

Absorbency:

The ability of a fabric to take in and hold moisture. Absorbency is an important property, which effects many other characteristics such as skin comfort (good absorbency = greater comfort), water repellency (poor absorbency = good water repellency and quickness to dry), static build-up (poor absorbency = static), shrinkage (good absorbency = tendency to shrink), stain removal (poor absorbency = hard to remove stains) and wrinkle recovery (poor absorbency = less tendency to wrinkle)

Appearance / Hand:

Appearance refers to the way the fabric appears to the eye. Some fabrics are lustrous, others dull.

The way the fabric feels when it is touched is called its hand. Descriptions like softness, crispness, dryness, and silkiness are all terms that describe the hand of the fabric. The comfort of a fabric is heavily dependent upon its hand.

Colorfastness:

The dyed fabric's ability to resist fading due to washing, exposure to sunlight, and other environmental conditions.

Drape:

The way the fabric falls. Some fabrics flow while others are stiffer.

Strength:

The stronger the fabric the less likely it is to tear. Garments made from fabrics that possess both high breaking strength and abrasion resistance can be worn often and for a long period of time before signs of wear appear.

Shrinkage

Some fibres, especially natural fibres, shrink appreciably when washed, unless they have been specially treated. Fibres which shrink normally have to be dry-cleaned.

Wrinkling:

Fabrics differ in the degree to which they wrinkle and require ironing.

A closely related concept is resiliency, which refers to the ability of a fabric to spring back to its original shape after being twisted, crushed, or wrinkled.

Pilling:

A pill is a tangled ball of fibres that appears on the surface of a fabric as a result of wear or continued friction or rubbing on the surface of the fabric.

Static:

Some fabrics build up a lot of static due to contact and brushing with other surfaces, including the skin.

Care:

Is the fibre dry-clean only, hand-wash or machine washable? Some fibres are easier to care for than others, cleanable by all methods

Wickability:

The ability of a fabric to move moisture away from the skin to the surface of a fabric where it can evaporate.


Absorbency, wickability & air permeability It is easy to get confused between these three characteristics of fibres/ fabrics and we thought that they deserve a special mention because of the desire amongst many Muslims, especially sisters, for 'breathable' clothes. The breathability of a fabric is called its 'air permeability', and this refers to the degree to which a fabric allows air to pass through its construction. Cotton is famous for its breathability. What is not as well known, however, is that when cotton becomes moist or wet, its breathability is significantly reduced. This is because cotton is a very absorbent fibre, and absorbency, don't forget, refers to the ability of a fibre to take in and hold moisture. Cotton is excellent at absorbing liquid, but not so good at releasing it, and so has poor wickability. Wickability refers to the fibre's ability to transport moisture perspiration away from the body to the surface of the garment, where it can evaporate quickly. So cotton is a good choice for someone looking for a breathable garment, and its high absorbency means that it offers great comfort, because small amounts of perspiration will easily soak into the garment from the body, preventing the build-up of sweat on the body itself. However, cotton is not so wise a choice if that person sweats so much that the garment becomes wet. Nor is it a good choice for sportswear – the specialist sportswear materials are normally synthetic and made from fibres with high wickability.


Natural fibres and man-made/synthetic fibres Natural fibres have been used for apparel for thousands of years. Flax, cotton, wool, and silk were the main fibres of choice, used according to their availability as well as environmental considerations. Fine linen was used as burial shrouds for the Egyptian pharaohs before 5000BC and wool was used by people of the Late Stone Age. Man-made fibres, on the other hand, are a relatively recent invention, only dating back about a hundred years. Technology developments in the 20th century have seen the introduction of many different types of man-made fibres, and that progress continues today, with refinements and improvements to all the existing fibres

Man-made fibres refers in general to all textile fibres which do not occur naturally. The term applies in particular to the group of fibres made from cellulose, extracted from the raw material of plants and trees. Four main manufactured fibres - rayon, acetate, triacetate and lyocell - are cellulosic fibres. Synthetic fibres are produced from chemicals made from refined petroleum and natural gas. The main synthetic fibres are polyester, nylon, acrylic, polyolefin and spandex.

Both natural and man-made fibres have their advantages and disadvantages. Natural fabrics are absorbent and comfortable to wear, but they shrink and wrinkle easily. Man-made fibres, on the other hand, are durable and easy to care for, but they aren't as absorbent and comfortable to wear. Having said that, it is hard to generalize, because with the advent of blended fibres, and technological advancements in man-made fibres, the distinction between natural and man-made fibres is often blurred.


Natural fibres 1. Cashmere
A luxury fibre obtained from the soft fleecy undergrowth of the Kashmir goat of Tibet, Mongolia, China, Iran, Iraq, and India. It has an extremely soft, luxurious and silky finish and is very light in weight.
Uses: sweaters, shawls, suits, coats, accessories.

2. Cotton
The most famous natural fibre, cotton is the most widely used textile fabric in North America. It grows in the seed pod of the cotton plant and its widespread use is largely to do with the ease with which these natural fibres are spun into yarn. Its popularity stems from its comfort, breathability, absorbency, soft hand, durability and easy care. Unfortunately, cotton wrinkles and shrinks and therefore it is often treated to control this or blended with polyester to create a minimum care fabric.
Uses: wide range of wearing apparel, including shirts, blouses, childrenswear, dresses, skirts, trousers, underwear.

3. Linen
A fabric made from linen fibres obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Due to the natural wax content in flax, the resulting linen fabric has excellent luster. It also has a crisp hand. Linen is similar to cotton in that it is comfortable and highly absorbent, but wrinkles and shrinks easily unless treated. However, linen excels in its strength, being twice as strong as cotton. Linen has poor elasticity and does not spring back readily after being pulled out of shape.
Uses: dresses, separates, blouses, shirts, trousers, jackets, suits.

4. Ramie
Often mistaken for linen, ramie is a bast fibre similar to flax linen, taken from the stalk of the ramie plant grown in South-east Asia, China, Japan, and southern Europe. The fibre is stiff, more brittle than linen, and generally acknowledged to be of lower quality. However, it is stronger, more absorbent, and highly lustrous.
Uses: dresses, skirts, trousers, blouses, shirts, suits.

5. Silk
A natural fibre produced in filament form by the silkworm in the construction of its cocoon. All silk comes from Asia, primarily Japan and also China, where it was first discovered. Normally soft, comfortable, luxurious, with a brilliant sheen, silk is one of the finest textiles. The thinnest of all natural fibres, it is normally used for light clothing items like dresses and accessories.
Uses: dresses, blouses, scarves, ties, undergarments.

6. Wool
The term "wool" is usually associated with fibre or fabric made from the fleece of sheep or lamb. However, "wool" can also apply to all animal hair fibres, including the hair of the Cashmere or Angora goat or the specialty hair fibres of the camel, alpaca, llama, or vicuna. Wool is well known for its comfort, luxuriousness and warmth. It is also very absorbent and resistant to wrinkling. Wool can be used to produce two very different finishes. The wool fabrics which have a soft feel and fuzzy surface are called woolens. Worsted wool, on the other hand, is tightly woven and so has a hard, smooth surface. It is often used for men's tailored suits. Wool of both types can easily shrink if improperly laundered and so is normally dry-clean only. Wool is often blended with polyester or other man-made fabrics to create a fabric which retains the beautiful drape and feel of pure wool, but is more durable and easy to care for. 'Virgin wool' refers to wool which has never been used or processed into fabric before. Some wools are reclaimed from processed fabrics.
Uses: sweaters, coats, suits, scarves, dresses, blouses, skirts.


Man-made & synthetic fibres: 1. Acetate
One of the cellulose-derived fibres, acetate is normally soft, luxurious, and has an excellent drape. It does not absorb moisture readily, but dries fast and resists shrinking. It is used commonly as lining in coats and jackets because of its drapeability and resistance to pilling and static. It is normally a dry-clean only fabric.
Uses: blouses, dresses, linings, special occasion attire.

2. Acrylic
Soft, light and warm, acrylic is a fabric which resembles wool. However, it is much easier to care for, being machine washable and resistant to shrinkage. It has outstanding wickability, drawing moisture away from the body, which explains its use in sportswear and socks. Excellent colorfastness is also a characteristic of acrylic. Static and pilling can be a problem
Uses: sweaters, socks, knitted garments, sportswear, children's wear.

3. LyocellThe newest cellulosic fibre, lyocell is similar to rayon in appearance (soft with excellent drape), but is stronger (especially when wet), more durable and easier to care for, normally being machine washable. Lyocell possesses low shrinkage characteristics, as well as good absorbency and wrinkle resistant qualities.
Uses: dresses, suits, blouses, skirts, trousers.

4. Microfibre
Microfibres are a recent development, referring to an ultra-thin fibre (finer than the most delicate silk) made into a fabric with extremely high aesthetic and performance qualities. Microfibre, as such, is not actually a fibre unto itself, but rather refers to superfine fibres made from polyester, nylon, rayon or acrylic. Aesthetically, microfibre has a very soft and luxurious hand, with a silken or suede touch, as well as excellent drapeability. From a performance point of view, microfibre is easy to care for, strong, shrink-resistant and insulates well against the wind, rain and cold.
Uses: outerwear, hosiery.

5. Nylon (Polyamide)
The first completely synthetic fibre produced, nylon is known for its exceptional strength. It also has good abrasion, wrinkle and shrink resistance qualities. These characteristics, as well as the fact that it is light, easy to wash, and quick to dry, mean that nylon has been used extensively in women's hosiery and lingerie. It is also sometimes blended with wool to improve the wool's performance.
Uses: hosiery, lingerie, swimwear, sportswear, outerwear.

6. Olefin (Polypropylene, Polyethylene)
Olefin fibres are products of propylene and ethylene gases and so sometimes the fibres are named separately as polypropylene and polyethylene. The lightest of all fibres, olefin is also strong, abrasion resistant, and its high wickability produces a very comfortable fabric. This fibre has increased in popularity in recent years for apparel and other textile use, and now ranks second only to polyester in terms of world-wide production of manufactured fibres.
Uses: underwear, socks, activewear, sportswear.

7. Polyester
The most used manufactured fibre, and second only to cotton in world-wide usage of all fabrics, natural and otherwise. Polyester is strong and resistant to shrinkage, stretching, wrinkling, and abrasion. It is readily washable and dries quickly. These qualities make polyester the best wash-and-wear fibre. On the negative side, its absorbency is poor and it and can have static and pilling problems. It can be produced in a number of weaves and hence is a particularly flexible fibre, being used for all types of clothing. It is also used extensively as a blend with other fibres, improving the durability and ease of care of many natural fabrics like cotton and wool, as well as man-made fabrics like rayon and acetate.
Uses: every form of clothing.

8. Rayon
This regenerated cellulose fibre was the first manufactured fibre developed, dating back over a hundred years. It is soft and comfortable, drapes well and is highly absorbent. It is static and pill resistant. It also dyes and takes prints excellently. One of the main concerns with rayon is its washability. Originally rayon was a dry-clean only fabric, although recent developments have seen the introduction of washable fabrics. Be careful not to wash dry-clean only rayon, or else you may find that it shrinks tremendously, it dyes bleed or fade, or it may become stiff and harsh. Today, various names for rayon fibres are taken from different manufacturing processes. The most commonly used production method for rayon is the viscose process, and so sometime you may actually find viscose rather than rayon written on the fabric content label of your garments.
Uses: dresses, blouses, linings, lingerie.

9. Spandex
A fibre characterized by its ability to be repeatedly stretched up to five times its original length without being damaged. Spandex is lightweight and resistant to body oils, perspiration, and detergents. Lycra (registered trademark) is the most familiar spandex fibre and is DuPont's brand name for its spandex fibre. Elastoester is another stretchable fabric which can be used as a substitute for spandex.
Uses: articles where stretch is desired, like athletic apparel, bathing suits and hosiery.

10. Triacetate
A regenerated cellulose fibre closely related to the acetate family. Like acetate, it is luxurious with excellent drapeability. However, it is considered an improvement over acetate because of its easier care – triacetate is machine washable. It also has excellent pleat retention.
Uses: dresses, skirts, garments where pleat retention is important.

ORDERING INFO
Size Chart
Payment Methods
Shipping Methods
Free Shipping
Returns and Exchanges
CUSTOMER GUIDES
Shopping Guide
Clothing Care
Fabric Guide
The Prophet's Sandal
CONTACT US
Contact Us
Submit a Ticket
Press
Careers
Wholesale and Franchises
SHUKR Affiliate Program
ABOUT SHUKR
SHUKR: The Vision
Genuine SHUKR
Is SHUKR Expensive?
Customer Comments
LEGAL
Terms and Conditions of Sale
Security and Privacy
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 - 2016 SHUKR. All rights reserved