Fibre to Fabric: Natural and Synthetic - Embibe
  • Written By Ankita Sahay
  • Last Modified 24-06-2022
  • Written By Ankita Sahay
  • Last Modified 24-06-2022

Fibre to Fabric: Natural and Synthetic

Animal skin and leaves were utilised to cover the body of early men. However, as time went by, humans perfected the art of extracting fibres from plants and animals. Subsequently, humans began weaving them into garments. Since the prehistoric era, there has been continuous change, advancements, and modifications in all the basic needs of human beings, including food, shelter, and clothing to make our lives comfortable.

Clothing has become one of the most important parts of human civilisation over the years. This article will discuss the varieties of fibres around us and the entire journey of ‘fibres to fabrics’. Continue reading to know more.

What are Fibres?

Fibres are extremely long, flexible, and thin thread-like structures of a natural or artificial substance. Yarn is made from fibres. Furthermore, these yarns are combined to form different types of fabrics. Fibres are classified into two types based on origin: natural fibres and synthetic fibres.

For example, cotton, wool, and silk are natural fibres directly extracted from plants and animals. At the same time, nylon, rayon, polyester, etc., are synthetic fibres as they are artificial fibres with several repeating units known as polymers. Synthetic fibres are manufactured in laboratories by various chemical processes using petrochemicals as raw materials.

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Fibres
Fibres

Types of Fibres

Based on the origin, fibres are classified into two types: Natural fibres and Synthetic fibres.

Types of Fibres
Types of Fibres

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Natural Fibres

Fibres obtained directly from plants and animals that can be further spun into thin filament, long thread or rope are termed ‘Natural fibres’. They are woven or knitted into fabrics. Most of the fabrics or clothing made from natural fibres are mostly soft and comfortable to wear. Natural fibres are of two types: Plant fibres and Animal fibres.

A. Plant Fibres

Fibres that we get from plants are known as plant fibres. Some examples of plant fibres are as follows:

I. Cotton

Cotton
Cotton

Cotton fibres are pure cellulose that is harvested as cotton balls from cotton plants. Harvesting is done by handpicking the cotton balls from the farms.

Cotton fiber to fabric

Before reaching you, a cotton garment completes a long journey. Let’s have a look at the full process of turning cotton bolls into cotton fabrics.

  1. Handpicking – Fruits of cotton plants are in the form of cotton bolls. These bolls bursts open at the time of harvesting. Cotton bolls are handpicked from farms.
  2. Ginning – Separating the cotton fibre from seeds by combing is called ‘ginning’. These cotton bales obtained are further cleaned and spun.
  3. Spinning – After cotton fibres bales are obtained, they are spun into cotton yarns by ‘spinning’. Machines such as ‘charkha’ or ‘takli’ are used for spinning.
  4. Weaving – Once cotton yarns are obtained, they are woven into cotton fabrics and stitched into beautiful clothes.

II. Jute

Jute
Jute

The jute fibres are obtained from the stems of the jute plants. A warm and humid climate is best suited for jute cultivation. Jute fibres are mostly used for making handlooms, bags, carpets, etc.

Jute fiber to fabric

  1. Retting – After the cultivation of jute plants, jute fibres are extracted by immersing them in slow running water for a long time. This process is known as retting.
  2. Stripping – Once retting is over, the fibres are separated by stripping to make long jute fibres. After washing and drying, these jute fibres are further processed.
  3. Spinning – Jute fibres are turned into yarns by spinning.
  4. Weaving or Matting – Jute yarns are weaved or matted to make fabrics. Mostly jute fibres are used to make carpets, sacks, carry bags, etc.

III. Flax

Flax
Flax

One of the most famous textile fibres, ‘Linen,’ is extracted from the stems of flax plants.

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IV. Coir

Coir
Coir

Coir is a natural fibre extracted from the outer husk of the coconut. Hence, it is also known as coconut fibre—coir used for making floor mats, doormats, mattresses, brushes, etc.

B. Animal Fibres

Fibres that are extracted from animals are known as animal fibres. They mostly consist of proteins as are obtained from the skin, furs, and hairs of animals. Some examples of animal fibres are:

I. Wool

Wool
Wool

Wool is an animal fibre obtained from the fleece or hairs of sheep, goats, yak or camels. Hairs of these animals trap air to keep their body warm in winters. Due to this reason, they are used to making woollen clothes.

Woollen fibres to woollen fabrics

  1. Shearing -The fleece of sheep or other wool yielding animals is removed along with a thin layer of skin. This process is just like shaving.
  2. Scouring – After the hairs are removed, they are thoroughly washed and cleaned to remove any dust, dirt, or grease.
  3. Sorting – After scouring, hairs of different textures are sorted.
  4. Cleaning of Burrs – The small, fluffy burrs that appear on hairs are then removed. After this, long woollen fibres are made.
  5. Dying – To give desirable colour to the fibres, they are dyed.
  6. Rolling – Finally, woollen yarns are made by rolling them. After that, these wools are knitted into desirable shapes and sizes to make sweaters, mufflers, socks, etc.

II. Silk

 Silk
Silk

Silk is one of the most delicate, popular, strong, soft, shiny, and expensive fibres obtained from silkworms. The rearing of silkworms for obtaining silk is called sericulture. The steps in the life cycle of a silkworm are Egg \( \to \) Silkworm \( \to \) Pupa \( \to \) Adult Moth. When a female moth lays eggs, its life cycle starts, and larvae secrete a fine filament made of fibroin protein that forms cocoons. These fibres are further processed into silk.

Silk fibres to silk fabrics

  1. Reeling – Once silkworms form cocoons on which silk fibres are spun are formed, they are put in hot boiling water. This is a crucial step in the silk production process as it ensures continuous threads without any breakage. Each thread is then reeled from the cocoon into individual long and continuous threads very delicately.
  2. Dyeing – To give beautiful desired colours to the fibres, they are dyed using various techniques.
  3. Spinning – The dyed fibres are unwound into a bobbin to make silk yarns so that they are ready for weaving. This can be done by hand-spinning or ring-spinning, or by spinners.
  4. Weaving – The silk fibres are woven together to form silk fabrics using weaving machines; after this step, fabrics are ready to make dresses from them.

Synthetic Fibres

Synthetic Fibres
Synthetic Fibres

Synthetic fibres are man-made fibres formed by linking monomers, forming a polymer by the process known as polymerisation. They are made by using various reagents and chemicals. Some examples of synthetic fibres extensively used in the textile industry are nylon, acrylic, polyester, etc. These synthetic fibres are then woven to form fabrics.

A few examples of synthetic fibres are:

  1. Acrylic – We can say acrylic is a cheaper version of wool. Polyacrylonitrile is used for making sweaters, blankets, etc.
  2. Nylon – Nylon is a synthetic fibre synthesised by chemical compounds such as adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine as monomers. Some examples of nylon fibres are nylon-\(6\) and nylon-\(66\). Nylon is strong, elastic, lustrous, and easy to maintain. It is used for making ropes, used in fishing nets, carpets, rock climbing ropes, and clothing materials due to its high strength and durability.
  3. Polyester – Polyester is a synthetic polymer made by polymerisation of ester groups to form polymers. Polyester is mixed with natural fibres like cotton to form poly cot fabrics; wool to form poly wool. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is another example of polyester used for making bottles, utensils, etc.
  4. Rayon – Rayon is a semi-synthetic fibre made artificially from cellulose that is extracted from wood pulp. It is also called ‘artificial silk’ due to its thin fibres and lightweight. It is used for making clothes, carpets, blankets, curtains etc.

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Questions on Fibre to Fabric

Candidates can check fibre to fabric class 7 questions and answers below:

Q.1: What is the difference between fibre and fabric?
Ans:
Yarn is made from fibres. The fibre is a long, single strand that turns into yarn by spinning the threads around the spinnerets. At the same time, a fabric is a network of single or multiple yarns that are interlaced or interlocked together. Fabrics are formed when yarns are weaved, matted, or knitted together in the looms. Cotton, silk, wool, jute, etc., are all-natural fibres.

Q.2: Which natural fibre is known as the ‘Golden Fibre’?
Ans:
Jute is a natural fibre that is known as the ‘Golden Fibre’. The word ‘gold’ is used for the yellowish-brown and shiny colour of this natural plant fibre. After cotton, jute is the most widely produced and has a variety of uses everywhere.

Q.3: Why are cotton and woollen clothes rough and silk, rayon, nylon, and polyester smooth to touch?
Ans:
Cotton and woollen fibre are rough as they have uneven surfaces and many folds. On the other hand, silk, rayon, nylon and polyester are smooth because they have long, fine, and plain structures that are smooth to touch.

Fibre to Fabrics CBSE Syllabus

The following table contains links to fibre to fabric Class 6 and fibre to fabric Class 7 chapters:

Fibre to Fabric Class 6 CBSEFibre to Fabric Class 7 CBSE

Summary

Fibres are thin and flexible threads of natural origin (obtained from plants and animals) or synthetic origin (synthesised from chemicals) mostly used in the textile industry. Some examples of natural fibres include cotton, jute, coir, wool, silk, etc.

On the other hand, examples of synthetic fibres include nylon, polystyrene, rayon, acrylic etc. We cannot use fibres directly from their source to make clothes for us. For this purpose, fibres need to be woven into fabrics. This process includes a series of steps; they are: “Extraction of fibres from its source \( \to \) Cleaning \( \to \) Spinning \( \to \) Weaving”.

FAQs on Fibre to Fabric

Following are the frequently asked questions on fibre to fabric:

Q.1: What are Fibres and Fabrics?
Ans:
Fibres are very thin thread-like strands from which clothes are made. Fabrics are produced by weaving or knitting long, twisted threads known as yarn. Yarn is made from fibres.

Q.2: How are fabrics made from fibres?
Ans:
Fabrics are made from fibres by weaving or knitting. Two sets of fibres are interlaced together to form fabrics by a machine called ‘loom’.

Q.3: What are the stages of conversion of fibre to fabric?
Ans:
The various stages of conversion fibre to the fabric are:
Extraction of fibres from its source \( \to \) Cleaning \( \to \) Combing \( \to \) Spinning \( \to \) Weaving.

Q.4: What are the two main types of fabrics?
Ans:
The two main types of fabrics are natural fabrics, whose fibres are obtained from plants and animals, and synthetic fabrics made of fibres that are manufactured artificially using chemicals.

Q.5: What are the two types of fibres?
Ans:
Based on the origin, there are two types of fibres. They are Natural and Synthetic fibres. Fibres obtained directly from plants and animals that can be further spun into thin filament, long thread or rope are called natural fibres. Synthetic fibres are man-made fibres formed by linking monomers, forming a polymer by the process known as polymerisation.

Q.6: What is a Natural Fibre example?
Ans:
Based on origin, natural fibres are of two types: Plant fibres and Animal fibres. Cotton, jute, linen, and coir are plant fibres. In contrast, wool and silk are animal fibres.

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