Your guide to common fabrics

Look your best by finding out the characteristics of your favourite fabrics. Learn how to wear and look after common fabric types. Click on a fabric to find out more.

Acrylic

 

Acrylic is a synthetic fibre used to make knit fabrics that have a soft, wool-like feel. Acrylic is lightweight, warm, resilient and resistant to sunlight and wrinkling, but can be prone to static and pilling.

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
Low
Colourfastness -
High
Elasticity -
Medium
Shrinkage Resistance -
High
Wrinkle Resistance -
High

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Cotton

 

Cotton is a natural fibre collected from the cotton plant and spun into thread. It is the most widely used natural fabric in clothing because of its soft, breathable and comfortable qualities. Cotton is absorbent, cool, and durable, but is vulnerable to perspiration and sunlight, and will mildew if left damp.

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
High
Colourfastness -
Low to High
Elasticity -
Low
Shrinkage Resistance -
Medium
Wrinkle Resistance -
Low

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Spandex

 

Spandex is a synthetic fibre known for its exceptional elasticity. Because it is so stretchy and maintains its original shape, it is commonly used to make swimwear and a wide variety of sportswear. Spandex is unaffected by mildew, moths or other insects.

 

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
Low
Colourfastness -
Low to Medium
Elasticity -
High
Shrinkage Resistance -
High
Wrinkle Resistance -
High

 

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Polyester

 

Polyester is the most widely used synthetic fibre in clothing today. It is lightweight, resilient and resistant to wrinkling, although it feels less natural than other woven fibres. For this reason, polyester is often blended with other natural fibres such as cotton. It is unaffected by mildew, moths or other insects, but can be prone to static electricity.

Abrasion Resistance -
High
Absorbency -
Low
Colourfastness -
Medium
Elasticity -
Medium
Shrinkage Resistance -
High
Wrinkle Resistance -
High

 

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Washable Silk

 

Silk is a lustrous natural fibre obtained from the cocoon of the silkworm. It has an elegant, shimmering look and is cool and comfortable in warm weather. Silk is often used to make shirts, blouses, dresses, underwear and also bedding, drapes and upholstery.

 

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
High
Colourfastness -
Low
Elasticity -
Medium
Shrinkage Resistance -
Low to Medium
Wrinkle Resistance -
Medium

 

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality ,blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Washable Wool

 

Wool is a natural fibre usually made from sheep's fleece. It can also refer to fibres obtained from the fleece of other animals such as goats, alpacas and llamas. Wool is warm, soft, durable, and can absorb moisture without feeling damp. Some washable wools need to be treated for moth-resistance.

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
High
Colourfastness -
Low to High
Elasticity -
High
Shrinkage Resistance -
Low
Wrinkle Resistance -
High

 

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Linen

 

Linen is a natural fibre made from the stems of flax plants. Linen is cooler to wear than cotton, and 2 to 3 times stronger. It is smooth and becomes softer the more it is washed, but it can be prone to creasing

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
High
Colourfastness -
Low to High
Elasticity -
Low
Shrinkage Resistance -
Medium
Wrinkle Resistance -
Low

 

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Lyocell

 

Lyocell is a fibre made from wood pulp cellulose, and shares many qualities with other cellulosic fibres like cotton and linen. It is soft and strong when wet or dry and is often used to make jeans, trousers and coats.

Abrasion Resistance -
Medium
Absorbency -
High
Colourfastness -
Medium
Elasticity -
Low
Shrinkage Resistance -
Medium
Wrinkle Resistance -
Medium

 

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Nylon

 

Nylon is a synthetic fibre that first became widely known when it was used to make women’s stockings. Nylon is smooth, lightweight and durable, as well as mould and wrinkle resistant, however is can be prone to static build-up.

Abrasion Resistance -
High
Absorbency -
Low
Colourfastness -
Medium
Elasticity -
High
Shrinkage Resistance -
High
Wrinkle Resistance -
High

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality, blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

Rayon

 

Rayon is a natural fibre made from wood pulp. It shares many qualities with cotton and linen, and can be made to resemble these fabrics. Rayon is highly absorbent, soft, comfortable, and easy to dye.

Abrasion Resistance -
Low to Medium
Absorbency -
High
Colourfastness -
Low
Elasticity -
Medium
Shrinkage Resistance -
Low to Medium
Wrinkle Resistance -
Low

Fabric characteristics can vary depending on quality ,blend, dye and whether the item is colourfast and has been pre-shrunk. Always check individual items for washing instructions before treating.

   
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