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Fabric Fibers: Cotton | Linen | Silk | Synthetic | Wool

leather jacket There are a few other types of materials that are used as "fabrics" for garments, accessories, or upholstery.  These include leather, synthetic suedes, vinyls, furs, and feathers.

Leather, the skin from a reptile or an animal, while not a fabric, is used like a fabric for clothing or accessories.  The outside skin of an animal, when tanned and finished, is called leather.  A finished inner skin is called suede.  These skins may be dyed and glazed or buffed, or they may be embossed, painted or embroidered.  Leathers include buckskin, cowhide, deerskin, or chamois, as well as ostrich and pigskin.

Synthetic suedes are nonwoven, napped fabrics that feel like suede.  They are manufactured from light to heavy weights and will generally be expensive for quality, trademarked fabrics.  Some of these fabrics include Ultrasuede®, Facile®, and Caress™.  Some are crisper than others; the lightweight synthetic suedes are easier to gather and drape.

Nonwoven fabrics called "vinyls" include synthetic leather, vinyl-coated fabrics, and those with rubberized coatings.  Because vinyl fabrics are waterproof, there are often used for rainwear, patio cushions, and casual clothing, but ironing will damage them, and they may tear under stress.  Some of these vinyl fabrics have woven or knitted backs that make them stronger.  Nonwoven fabrics such as these may be marketed as "leatherette," "Naugahyde®," or "faux leather."

luxury mink fur Fur is not a true fabric, but an animal skin with the hair still attached.  The skins, however, are frequently joined together to act as fabric, such as for a fur coat.  They may also be used as collars, trims, and linings for garments made from other fabrics.  Fur has a nap, will shed, and is bulky.  Some of the most common types of fur are beaver, fox, and mink, as well as Persian lamb and shearling.

Feathers are also not true fabrics, but they are frequently used by designers.  Marabou and ostrich feathers are sold by strings or boas, and sewn to garments made of other fabrics.  They may be used as trim elements, or they may cover a garment's exterior surface.  Feathers can flatten but will recover when steamed.  Fabrics with feathers attached must be dry-cleaned.


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