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

yellow nylon jacket Synthetic fibers are manufactured rather than being naturally produced.  Some, such as rayon and acetate, are made from cellulosic products and, while man-made, are not true synthetics.  Others, such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, and olefin, are based on petroleum, alcohol, or natural gas derivatives.  The chemical solutions used to make synthetic fibers are extruded through tiny holes to produce filament yarns.  Nylon, the first true synthetic fiber, was developed in 1939.

Synthetic fabrics have made fabric care easier.  They are hard wearing and crease resistant but are not generally absorbent.  Synthetic fibers may be blended with natural fibers such as cotton and wool.  Here are some of the more popular synthetic fabrics.

synthetic fabric - blue polyester shirt with nylon fabric background

  • Nylon tricot is a single knit jersey fabric.  It is strong and crease resistant, but it holds in body heat and is not absorbent.  It is frequently used for lingerie.
  • Polyester is a strong, crease resistant fabric that is hard wearing but not absorbent.  It is used for dresses, evening wear, and blouses, as well as lingerie, suits and sportswear.  It comes in a variety of weights and knits; lightweight polyester georgette is frequently used in a layered effect for dresses.  Smooth, durable, microfiber fabrics are generally made from densely woven polyester.
  • Acrylic fabric is soft and fluffy.  Very often it has a pile texture and is used for sweaters and outerwear.  Acrylic fibers are strong, and they are often blended with other fibers.
  • Rayon is a relatively weak fabric that comes in many weights.  It may have either a coarse or silky weave, and it is used for dresses and blouses as well as linings and curtains.
  • Spandex is a strong, stretchy fiber that is often combined with another fiber.  It is used for swimwear, pants, and undergarments.
polyester thread acrylic sweater

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