Working Properties of Fibres and Fabrics

What are ‘fibre’ Properties:

  • Aesthetic (to do with the look)
  • Functional
  • Comfort

Strength - whether or not a fibre will break under tension

Extensibility - how much a fibre can stretch until it breaks

Elasticity - how much a fibre will stretch and regain its original shape

Fineness - the thickness of the fibre

Electrostatic charge - if a fibre contains ‘static’, it will be clingy and not drape well. Synthetic fibres are prone to static.

Lustre - a slight shine

Thermal insulation - whether the fibre is a good or bad conductor of heat

Flammability - all fibres burn, flammability is to do with whether the fibre will catch fire quickly or not and how it reacts to heat, i.e. will it melt?

Moisture absorption - the amount of liquid the fibre will absorb, important to know because of comfort of wearer and ease of washing/drying time etc.

Shrinkage - whether or not a fibre will shrink when washed, tumble-dried or ironed etc.

Fabric Qualities

Durability -whether the fabric will withstand wear and tear, is it resistant to abrasion, will rubbing cause the surface to pill (go bobbly)

Creasing - will the fabric keep creases in or shed them easily?

Stretch - how far the fabric will stretch

Formability - does the fabric hold its shape well?

Handle - is the fabric soft? How does it feel when handled?

Drape - how the fabric hangs, is the fabric supple and flexible?

Weight - is the fabric heavy or light, is the weight suitable for its purpose?

Pattern repeat - is the printed pattern a large or small repeat? This will effect how economical it will be to cut out the fabric pieces so that the pattern lines up when made into a garment

Directional pile - the raised surface of a pile fabric or brushed fabric, does it look different when looked at from different directions, e.g. velvet that looked different from different angles.

Nap - the raised surface of a pile fabric or brushed fabric.