A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers (yarns or thread. Fabric is a material made through weaving, knitting, spreading or bonding that may be used in production of further goods(garments).
Without fabric there would be no garment. Choosing the fabric, materials and trims is an exciting and critical part of the product development.
Making a judgement call on which fabric to use and for which garment requires skills. Before you source the materials to use for a collection, you need to learn about fibers, textiles and trims, this will help you with the entire production process. As the content of the materials greatly affects the design results and a designer should understand the behavior of different fibers and whether the stretch, whether the colour or print is dyed or woven. Ideally a designer should be able to feel a fabric and know if it’s suitable for the design. The best way to learn about fabrics is through hands on experience.
There are thousands of different fabrics used and it’s based on the construction of the fabric which has to do with how the are made but let’s break it down into 4 categories:
Knitted, woven, bonded/non woven fabric and yarns.
Composition of the fabric is the mix of different yarns it is made from;it can be divided into two categories: natural fibers- Cotton, Linen, wool and silk.) and Synthetic or artificial fibers (viscose,modal,polyester,nylon).
Some fabrics are made from a single fiber while some are a blend of two or more fibers. The composition of the fabric affects the performance of the fabric in its end use.
In product development,fabric selection is very vital. The selection of fabrics begins after the concept has been created.
Places to select and source for Fabrics for a collection includes:
- Fabric fairs
- Fabrics agents
- Fabrics mills
- Converters – they buy unfinished fabrics or Geiger goods from mills and finish the material themselves by printing, treating and/or dyeing it for resale. Converters generally have lower minimums than the mills and offer a wide selection.
- The internet – there are hundreds of fabric websites, when ordering for fabric online request for swatches before buying because a computer screen cannot accurately show color, pattern, texture or quality. www.infomat.com lists fabric and trim suppliers and their minimum. After sourcing the fabrics, next stage is to review the fabrics. The review is done in 3 stages:
- According to fabric type
- According to construction and weight
- According to price
Next stage would be to allocate fabrics. The developer has to work closely with the Designer at this point to allocate the right fabrics for the right design- making sure that the weight,price and type of fabric is both suitable for the Garment’s construction and also in line with the designers vision.
The subject of fabric is huge. There is always something new to learn. Read the industry’s press to keep up to date on fabric price concerns or new developments.