These are made from natural fibres and include cotton, linen, silk, and wool (including angora, llama, and many others). For particular qualities, such as flame resistance or water and stain repellence, these may be combined with a synthetic fibre or treated with various chemicals.
There are two types of synthetic fibre: true synthetic or regenerated synthetic. Regenerated synthetic fibres are produced from raw materials (that form fibres naturally); these are reformed to produce fibres or filaments suitable for making into yarns or fabrics. The first commercial regenerated synthetic fibre was ‘artificial silk’ or rayon, and was made from modified cellulose (wood pulp), known according to later methods of manufacture as viscose. The wood pulp is combined with caustic soda and carbon disulphide to produce a liquid (viscose), which is then forced through a spinneret (a piece of metal with very fine holes in it) to produce filaments (long fibres). Acetate is a regenerated fibre made from cotton linters (very short cotton fibres) combined with acetic acid. True synthetic fibres are usually produced from substances like petrochemicals, which do not naturally form fibres. The first fully synthetic textile fibre, nylon, was developed in 1937. Nylon, acrylic, polyester, and spandex or elastomeric fibres, such as lycra, form the basis of most of the modern textile industry.
Textiles used in drainage systems, road foundations, barriers to sea, and river defences against erosion are known as geotextiles. They are made from synthetic fibres, which are either felted for use as filters or stabilizing grids, or woven for strength.
Construction of textile products
Once fabrics have been produced, various equipment is used in the construction of textile products. First, a textile product must be designed, and the design translated into a pattern or template. Textile products are usually constructed from several different pieces. A paper pattern is used to aid the cutting out of each individual piece of fabric will make up the product. Commercial patterns include contain printed diagrams and instructions, but it is possible to design and produce handmade patterns. Tailor's chalk is used to mark out a design or details like stitching lines and darts. The chalk comes in a variety of colours and is washable. Using dressmaker's carbon paper is another way of transferring designs on to fabric. The carbon paper is placed under the pattern or design and this is then traced using a tracing wheel; the wheel has a serrated edge to press the carbon paper against the fabric, leaving an imprint of the design. Pins hold paper pattern pieces to the fabric while it is being cut out, and hold fabric pieces in the right position while they are tacked or sewed. Once the paper pattern has been pinned or the design marked on the fabric, the individual pieces are cut out with scissors or shears; scissors designed specifically for cutting out have angled handles and long, flat blades to keep the fabric as flat as possible. The fabric is then sewn together, either by hand or using a sewing machine.
One of the oldest known textiles in the world, discovered in southeast Turkey, is a fragment of woven linen that was carbon-dated in 1993 as being 9,000 years old. A fabric woven from flax (the fibre from which linen is spun), found in the Orkney Islands, was dated as being from around 2000 BC and is thought to be the oldest known British textile.
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