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How is Clothing Made?

Have you ever wondered how the shirt on your back was made? What it's made of? Or who it was made by? Tailor Sallee breaks it down for the non-sewer.

Our clothing is made from fabrics which are made from fibers. Fibers are little hair strands that are several hundred times longer as they are thick.

Fibers are categorized into two types:

The two types of natural fibers are:

  • Plant based; originating from plant ( Cotton, Flax/Linen)

  • Protein based; originating from animals, and man made. (Wool, Cashmere, Silk.)

-Remember leather is not a protein fiber because it's part of the animal's skin/hide and not its hair.

Fibers are spun into longer filaments to make yarn. This is done on a spinning wheel. Long continuous strands may only need some simple twisting to make them into yarns, others require more vigorous processes. Sometimes fibers are put through an additional process called texturing.

Yarns are then weaved together to make fabrics on a machine called a loom or extruded through a shower-head looking device called a spinneret.

These yarns are either woven or knit together to create fabrics. In weaving 2 sets of yarns are interlaced to from the fabric. The fabric is produced by interlacing warp and weft yarns at right angles to each other. In knitting, the loops of yarns are interlaced.

The fabric is then Scoured and Mercerized

Scouring is basically removing the impurities in the fabric by washing the fabric with various chemicals. Mercerizing is done to increase the strength and luster of fabric. It is a process done with concentrated caustic alkali.

Fabric Finishes

Fabric finish refers to the techniques used on finished fabric to give it some special characteristics like wrinkle-free finish or stain-free finish or waterproof finish. It may also be added to enhance its characteristics like strength, beauty, etc. Compaction, Brushing, Cropping, Sueding Mercerizing are different types of finishes done on fabric.

Fabric is then designed/patterned, cut and sewn by a person called a seamstress to make wearable clothing!

Clothing goes through many hands before it ends up on our bodies.

Books to refer for detailed study

Textiles : Fiber to Fabric : Bernard P Corbman 1983 Understanding textiles : Billie J. Collier, Martin Bide, Phyllis G. Tortora 2001 Technology of textile properties : Marjorie A Taylor 1990

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