From Academic Kids
A textile is any type of material made from fibers or other extended linear materials such as thread or yarn (1). Classes of textiles include woven, knitted, knotted (as in macrame) or tufted cloth, and non-woven fabrics such as felt. Materials such as fiberglass, which are made from fibers dispersed in a matrix of another material are considered composite materials rather than textiles.
The production of textiles is an ancient craft, whose speed and scale of production has been altered almost beyond recognition by mass-production and the introduction of modern manufacturing techniques. However, a Roman weaver would have no problem recognizing modern plain weave, twill or satin.
Many textiles have been in use for millennia, while others use artificial fibers and are recent inventions. The range of fibers has increased in the last 100 years. The first synthetics were made in the 1920s and 1930s.
Sources and types
Textiles can be made from a variety of materials. The following is a partial list of the materials that can be used to make textiles.
- Bark cloth has various uses, and is used in sheets.
- Coir: the fibre from coconuts.
- Grass, rush and straw
- Hemp (mostly used in rope making)
- Linen, made from flax
- Nettle: processed in a similar manner to flax.
- Seaweed: a water soluble fibre (alginate) is produced. This is used as a holding fibre in the production of certain textiles: when the cloth is finished the alginate is dissolved, leaving an open area.
Derived from plant products
- Glass fibres can be used in the manufacture of textiles for insulation and other purposes.
- Metal fibre, metal wire and metal foil have some uses in textiles, either on their own or with other materials (see, for example, goldwork embroidery).
- Acrylic fiber
- Spandex, tactel, lycra and other 'stretch' fabrics
- Nylon fiber
- Polyester fiber
- Polypropylene (comes under various common trade names such as Olefin or Herculon)
- Crochet – usually by hand.
- Embroidery – threads which are added to the surface of a finished textile.
- Felt – fibres are matted together to produce a cloth.
- Knitting – by hand or on knitting machines.
- Knotting, including macrame: used in making nets.
- Lace – again both hand made and machine made.
- Pile fabrics – carpets and some rugs
- Velvet, velveteen, plush fabrics and similar have a secondary set of yarns which provide a pile.
- Weaving – the cloth is prepared on a loom, of which there are a number of types. Some weaving is still done by hand, but the vast majority is mechanised.
- Bleaching – where the natural or original colour of the textile is removed with bleach.
- Dyeing – adding colour to textiles: there is a vast range of dyes, natural and synthetic, some of which require mordants.
- Waterproofing and other finishings.
Textiles have been used in almost every possible context where their properties are useful. In cleaning
- Bags and other means of carrying objects
- Balloons, kites, sails, parachutes and other transport use. Early airplanes used cloth as part of the construction.
- Furnishings, including towels and table cloths
- Industrial and scientific uses, including filtering
- Rugs and carpets
- Carpet construction and texture (http://www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/homefurnish/g1316.htm)
- Weaving document archive (http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/weavedocs.html)
- A Glossary of Fabrics in sixteenth-Century Italy (http://realmofvenus.renaissancewoman.net/seamstress/fabricglossary.htm)
(1) glossary from the Textile Museum (http://www.textilemuseum.org/PDFs/TextileTerms.pdf)