Natural FibresMade from natural materials- cotton and linen are made from plants, wool is made from sheep wool, and silk is made from the silk a silkworm produces.They are strong when dry, and they are absorbent.They are made from renewable resources, and are recyclable and biodegradable, so are relatively sustainable.They usually come in staple lengths, except silk which comes in filaments that can be up to 1km long!They are harvested, then cleaned and straightened, then spun into a yarn. However, they are poor resistors of biological damage (e.g moths/mould)
Regenerated FibresThese are made from natural materials (mostly cellulose from wood pulp) but they are chemically treated to make them into fibres. The liquid is forced through tiny holes, where it hardens to become a fibre.The properties are similar to those of natural fibres, however different chemicals can make different properties.The chemicals mean they are less sustainable than natural fibres, however some regenerated fibres (e.g. tencel) are made from recycled chemicals, so they are biodegradable and recyclable.
Synthetic fibresThese are man-made fibres.They are made from polymers (long chain molecules), mainly from coal or oil.The polymers are melted, or dissolved in a solution, then forced through tiny holes, where is hardens to make a filament.They are not absorbant, so are difficult to dye.The filaments are stretched into yarns, which is then wound onto spools, or chopped to make shorted staple lengths.They are made from non-renewable materials, so are less sustainable.They can be given many different properties. But generally they are resistant to biological damage (e.g. moths), and can be changed by heating to form different shapes and textures.
Cellulose fibres are natural fibres made from plants or vegetables. They tend to be strong and good at absorbing moisture, which makes them comfortable to wear, but can mean they take a long time to dry.Cotton and linen are common examples of cellulose fibres, and the cross section of immature cotton fibre is round, and it is where nutrients pass along as the fibre grows. However when the fibre is picked, it dries out and collapses into a flattened bean-like cross section. It also twists along the length.Linen has a many sided cross section and a long regular length. The regular surface reflects light well, giving it lustre. The cross markings along the surface are called nodes, and give a slubbed appearance.