28 Types of Fabrics and Their Uses
Deciding which type of fabric to make an item with is an important decision, as fabrics can have countless qualities. From natural to synthetic fibers and from knit to woven, here’s a look at different fabric types and how to identify them.
Canvas. Canvas is a plain-weave fabric typically made out of heavy cotton yarn and, to a lesser extent, linen yarn. Canvas fabric is known for being durable, sturdy, and heavy duty. By blending cotton with synthetic fibers, canvas can become water resistant or even waterproof, making it a great outdoor fabric.
Cashmere. Cashmere is a type of wool fabric that is made from cashmere goats and pashmina goats. Cashmere is a natural fiber known for its extremely soft feel and great insulation. The fibers are very fine and delicate, feeling almost like a silk oxford fabric to the touch. Cashmere is significantly warmer and lighter than sheep’s wool. Often cashmere is made into a wool blend and mixed with other types of wool, like merino, to give it added weight, since cashmere fibers are very fine and thin.
Chenille. Chenille is the name for both the type of yarn and the recycled fabric that makes the soft material. The threads are purposefully piled when creating the yarn, which resembles the fuzzy exterior of the caterpillar. Chenille is also a woven fabric that can be made from a variety of different fibers, including cotton, silk, wool, and rayon.
Chiffon. Chiffon a lightweight, plain-woven fabric with a slight shine. Chiffon has small puckers that make the fabric a little rough to the touch. These puckers are created through the use of s-twist and z-twist crepe yarns, which are twisted counter-clockwise and clockwise respectively. Crepe yarns are also twisted much tighter than standard yarns. The yarns are then woven in a plain weave, which means a single weft thread alternates over and under a single warp thread. The sheer fabric can be woven from a variety of textile types, both synthetic and natural, like silk, nylon, rayon, or polyester.
Cotton. Cotton is a staple fiber, which means it is composed of different, varying lengths of fibers. Cotton is made from the natural fibers of cotton plants. Cotton is primarily composed of cellulose, an insoluble organic compound crucial to plant structure, and is a soft and fluffy material. The term cotton refers to the part of the cotton plant that grows in the boil, the encasing for the fluffy cotton fibers. Cotton is spun into yarn that is then woven to create a soft, durable fabric used for everyday garments, like t-shirts, and home items, such as bed sheets. Cotton prints and cotton solids are both available designs.
Crêpe. Crêpe is a silk, wool, or synthetic fabric with a distinctive wrinkled and bumpy appearance. Crêpe is usually a light-to- medium-weight fabric. Crêpe fabric can be used to make clothes, like dresses, suits, blouses, pants, and more. Crêpe is also popular in home decor for items like curtains, window treatments, and pillows.
Damask. Damask is a reversible, jacquard-patterned fabric, meaning that the pattern is woven into the polyester taffeta fabric, instead of printed on it. The fabric’s design is created through the weave, which is a combination of two different weaving techniques—the design is woven using a satin weave, while the background is achieved through a plain, twill, or sateen weave. Damask patterns can be either multi-colored or single colored. Damasks can be made from a variety of different textiles, including silk, linen, cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers, like rayon. Learn more about damask fabric here.
Georgette. Georgette is a type of crêpe fabric that is typically made from pure silk but can also be made from synthetic fibers like rayon, viscose, and polyester. Crêpe georgette is woven using tightly twisted yarns, which create a slight crinkle effect on the surface Georgette is sheer and lightweight and has a dull, matte finish.. Silk georgette is very similar to silk chiffon, which is also a type of crêpe fabric, but georgette is not as sheer as chiffon because of the tighter weave. Georgette fabrics are sometimes sold in solid colors but often georgette is printed and boasts colorful, floral prints.
Gingham. Gingham is a cotton fabric, or sometimes a cotton blend fabric, made with dyed yarn woven using a plain weave to form a checked pattern. Gingham is usually a two-color pattern, and popular combinations are red and white gingham or blue and white gingham. The checked pattern can come in a variety of sizes. Gingham pattern is reversible and appears the same on both sides. Gingham is a popular fabric due to its low cost and ease of production. Gingham is used frequently for button-down shirts, dresses, and tablecloths.
Jersey. Jersey is a soft stretchy, knit fabric that was originally made from wool. Today, jersey is also made from cotton, cotton blends, and synthetic fibers. The right side of jersey knit fabric is smooth with a slight single rib knit, while the backside of jersey is piled with loops. The fabric is usually light-to-medium weight and is used for a variety of clothing and household items, like sweatshirts or bed sheets.
Lace. Lace is a delicate fabric made from yarn or thread, characterised by open-weave designs and patterns created through a variety of different methods. Lace fabric was originally made from silk and linen, but today cotton thread and synthetic fibers are both used. Lace is a decorative fabric used to accent and embellish clothing and home decor items. Lace is traditionally considered a luxury textile, as it takes a lot of time and expertise to make.
Leather. Leather is any fabric that is made from animal hides or skins, and different leathers result from different types of animals and different treatment techniques. While cowhide is the most popular animal skin used for leather, comprising about 65 percent of all leather produced, almost any animal can be made into leather, from crocodiles to pigs to stingrays. Leather is a durable, wrinkle-resistant fabric, and it can take on many different looks and feels based on the type of animal, grade, and treatment.
Linen. Linen is an extremely strong, lightweight fabric made from the flax plant. Linen is a common material used for towels, tablecloths, napkins, and bedsheets, and the term “linens,” i.e. bed linens, still refers to these household items, though they are not always made out of linen fabric. The material is also used for the inner layer of jackets, hence the name “lining.” It’s an incredibly absorbent and breathable fabric, which makes it ideal for summer clothing, as the lightweight qualities allow air to pass through and moderate the body temperature.