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.
Organza. Organza is a lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric that was originally made from silk. The material can also be made from synthetic fibers, primarily polyester and nylon. Synthetic fabrics are slightly more durable, but the fabric is very delicate and prone to frays and tears. Organza is also characterized by very small holes throughout the home textile fabric, which are the spaces between the warp and weft thread in the plain-weave pattern. The quality of organza is defined as the number of holes per inch—more holes indicate better quality organza. Organza is extremely popular for wedding gowns and evening wear, as it is shimmery and translucent quality which creates decadent silhouettes.
Taffeta. Taffeta is a crisp, plain-woven spandex fabric made most often from silk, but it can also be woven with polyester, nylon, acetate, or other synthetic fibers. Taffeta fabric typically has a lustrous, shiny appearance. Taffeta can vary in weight from light to medium and in levels of sheerness, depending on the type of fiber used and the tightness of the weave. Taffeta is a popular lining fabric, as the material is decorative and soft, and it is also used for evening wear and home decor.
Velvet. Velvet is a soft, luxurious fabric that is characterized by a dense pile of evenly cut fibers that have a smooth nap. Velvet has a beautiful drape and a unique soft and shiny appearance due to the characteristics of the short pile fibers. Velvet fabric is popular for evening wear and dresses for special occasions, as the polyester oxford fabric was initially made from silk. Cotton, linen, wool, mohair, and synthetic fibers can also be used to make velvet, making velvet less expensive and incorporated into daily-wear clothes. Velvet is also a fixture of home decor, where it’s used as upholstery fabric, curtains, pillows, and more.