7 Natural Fabrics and What They Do

MakersValley Blog | 7 Natural Fabrics and What They Do
Anna Spaugh

Anna Spaugh

There are many different types of fabrics that are used for different types of garments. Fabric is what you as a designer will constantly work with. You will play and experiment with different colors, prints, and types because not all fabrics are or perform as one and the same.

Each fabric is made of two components: fiber content and the construction of that fiber. Here we’ll go over some natural based fabrics and the advantages they offer.

Natural Plant Fabrics to Use in Fashion Design

cotton field

Natural fabrics are fabrics that are either plant or animal based.

Cotton is a natural fabric made from the plant cotton. It’s versatile and can be used for garments and household items like ropes, sheets, and towels. The benefits of using cotton fabric are that:

  • It’s breathable
  • Easy to care for
  • Moisture absorbent
  • Hypoallergenic

Hypoallergenic fabrics are made without using harsh chemicals. While hypoallergenic fabrics are not 100% reaction preventative, they greatly reduce the chances of a bad skin reaction for the wearer. Fans of cotton like that it doesn’t irritate their skin, especially if it’s sensitive.

Linen is a natural fabric made from the flax plant. It’s one of the oldest fabrics and like cotton, it is also versatile and hypoallergenic. Linen is not as flexible as cotton, but because the fibers are naturally tightly bound together, it is strong and durable. Linen also becomes softer with every wash.

While it does wrinkle like crazy, linen fabrics are:

  • Very comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Moisture absorbent
  • Strong and durable
bamboo in a grove

Bamboo fabric is a natural fabric made from the plant bamboo. It is:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Antibacterial
  • Temperature regulating
  • Soft
  • Like cotton, linen, and wool, it is moisture absorbent.

Bamboo and other natural fabrics can absorb moisture well because plants have cellulose cells which love water. If you’re interested in learning about more plant-based fabrics, see what designers are doing with pineapples!

Natural Animal Based Fabrics

sheep's wool

Wool is an animal based fabric, made mainly from sheep hairs, but other animal hairs from alpacas, llamas, and camels can be used too. Wool fabrics:

  • keeps their shape
  • Are durable
  • Absorb moisture
  • Resist wrinkling
  • Regulate body temperatures to keep the wearer cool or warm

Wool fibers have the natural ability to absorb moisture and release it. If wool is blended with another fiber and is less dominant, then it is less able to regulate body temperature.

Cashmere is a wool fiber but it comes from goats, not sheep. It absorbs moisture, has a natural stretch, and is soft and very lightweight.

dyed leather skins

Leather is an animal-based fabric made from lots of different animal skins. Common animals from which leather comes are:

  • Cow
  • Goat
  • Lamb
  • Deer
  • Pig

The back sides of these skins are thicker, while the plonge (stomach and side area of the animal) is thinner and softer.

Leather is durable and ages well. It’s also breathable, flexible, and versatile in its applications, being useful for making things, like belts, shoes, furniture, and jewelry.

peach silk

Silk is a fiber that comes from silkworms. As mentioned in the beginning, a fiber is not a fabric until there is construction of that fiber. It can either be woven or knitted, which leads to different textures and thickness, resulting in different fabrics. Chiffon, organza, crepe, georgette, and many more can be made with 100% silk. Silk fabrics are:

  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Temperature regulating

These are only a few of the natural fabrics available to you as a designer. The more you know about what a fabric does, the better you will know which fabrics to work with and what style and season they match.

Fabrics

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