These flexible, colorful materials offer endless practical and artistic potential. How much do you know about textiles?
The Latin word "textilis" means woven. There are many types of textiles used for many purposes, but mostly they are made for clothing.
There are four basic sources for the textiles that we use for our lives. They include plant textiles, animal textiles, synthetic textiles and mineral textiles.
Acrylic is warm and soft, with traits that make it a lot like wool. It's a synthetic fiber that's often less expensive than natural fibers.
Carding uses many needles spinning on drums to catch and align fibers so that they are aligned in the same direction.
Seersucker is made from cotton. The threads bunch together in a useful way that helps hold the material away from the skin, making seersucker clothing appropriate for warm environments.
Byssus is a silk-like thread that the pinna nobilis, a type of mollusc, uses to attach itself to rocks. The threads can be spun into cloth.
Flax plants are used to make linen. Linen is two to three times stronger than cotton, and it was one of the first types of fibers used for clothing.
Warp is the name given to the lengthwise yarns of fabric in a textile. "Fill" yarns are inserted perpendicularly to the warp yarns to create a fabric.
Polyamide is nylon, which was originally created as a synthetic substitute for silk. Nylon is extremely strong, making it great for everything from sportswear to rope to tents.
Angora wool is harvested from Angora rabbits, which have very fluffy, downy fur. Animal rights activists condemn some producers, which may rip the fur directly from the live animals.
Bedford cord is a corduroy-like fabric that gets its name from Bedford, England. It has a comparatively rigid construction appropriate for outerwear, upholstery and similar products.
Polyester resists stains better than just about any other fabric. Only specialized dyes will affix themselves permanently to polyester's structure.
Piece dyeing happens after textiles are woven into fabrics. This type of dyeing is particularly good for making saturated solid colors.
With the introduction of Spandex in 1962, huge swaths of the clothing market changed. The stretchy material is used for all sorts of comfortable, snug-fitting clothes.
Wadmal is a very old type of wool cloth that was produced mostly in Scandinavian countries up until the 1700s. Peasants often used it for their clothing.
Lurex yarns have integrated metallic layers that give them a decadent, shiny look. They are often silvery or golden.
In jeans especially, the warp is dyed a bluish color and the weft is left white, giving the fabric some contrast. That's also why your jeans are white if you turn them inside out.
Researchers found evidence of linen-like materials in a cave in the country of Georgia. Testing revealed that they may have been created roughly 36,000 years ago, making linen a very old material indeed.
This type of silk actually contains more cotton than silk. It was popular in the late 19th century.
Spandex can stretch five times its original length without being permanently damaged. Release the material and it returns to its original shape and size.
Cashmere is a type of soft, fine wool that comes from goats. Before it can be used, it must be separated from the goat's coarse hair.
Because it's made from processed cellulose fibers from wood or cotton, rayon was often called wood silk.
Aramid has many of the same characteristics of asbestos, such as heat resistance and strength, without the potentially carcinogenic effects.
This type of lace was introduced in Carrickmacross, Ireland in the early 19th century. It features fancy patterns and muslin components.
The toughness of Aramid fibers makes them appropriate for goods that need maximum durability, such as bulletproof vest, boat hulls, tires or skis.
Acetate can increase shine in certain fabrics, especially those like velvet and silk.
Hessian cloth, or burlap, is often used to make sacks or for interior decorations. It naturally has an appealing light brown color.
This soft goat's wool has about three times the insulation capability of sheep's wool, making cashmere a very warm material.
Mohair comes from adorable, shaggy Angora goats. It's warm, easily dyed and wicks water very well, making it good for use in warm weather, too.
Often, silk is combined with cotton to make this silky, glossy textile. It has less sheen than true velvet but retains plenty of the original's softness.