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What is Textile? Basics of Textile

When your morning alarm sounds, you leave comfortable bedding to get up, turn on elaborately matched clothes, brush teeth with a soft bristle, step on a cozy carpet, and appreciate an exquisite canvas painting whilst breakfast. Do you know how many textiles are used this morning? Do you think a rope is a textile? This post treats in some detail about textiles and you can grasp the answers to these two questions.

What is Textile?

Textile represented nothing but woven cloth in the time of crude raw materials and backward manufacturing methods. In contemporary, it denotes a wider range of things with the development of production modes in the textile industry. Thus, it is difficult to state it clearly from a single perspective.

  • In the clothing industry, a textile can be any raw material and an intermediate or final product of raw materials.
  • From the production means point, a textile is made by various ways of intermingling fibers or yarns, including interlacing, interlooping, etc.
  • A textile can be any material manufactured by natural and synthetic fibers, such as a cord and rope. 

History of Textile and Textile Production

In primitive tribalism, people sought grass, plant leaves, bark, animal skins and fur, etc to satisfy their essential needs of shelter and clothing. Textile dates back to life facilities about 7000 years ago, such as baskets and nets made of natural fibers by coarse weaving. Early humans employed available cane to form one rough thread and weave it in limited repetition. Consequently, weaving is a prior art than spinning. The traditional spinning appeared in Neolithic times considering the preserved marks of spindle whorls at that time.

Textile underwent immense development during ancient city and country civilizations. New fiber types emerged and some of them proliferated till now, such as wool, cotton and silk. In ancient China, people domesticated silkworms and established a complete silk manufacturing system between 1600 BC and 300 BC. Moreover, textile and textile production possessed a regional diversity during that period. For example, extensive evidence testifies to the common use of madder dye in India since 5000 years ago.

In the Middle Ages, textile products of felts, carpets, etc came out. Besides, craftsmen were proficient in delicate weavers and forms, and decorated products with drawing and printing. Certain cities and regions came into possession of their special kinds of textiles. Textiles were a desirable commodity despite the high price.

Textile never ceased or hesitated to reinforce its strength in economic society. The Industrial civilization took textile production into the machine and automation age. In other words, textiles were dramatically developed in production modes and scales. The advent of spinning jenny in 1765 enabled the simultaneous production of several yarns. On the increase of production capacity, Britain industrialized textile manufacturing before long. In the 1800s, water and steam power became the main driving force of textile machines. During the continuous development, a summit was reached by the invention of unconventional spinning and non-shuttle loom.

Meanwhile, textile manufacturers tended to incorporate modern physics and modern chemistry with their work during the post-industrialization era. They were aware of the importance of textile’s properties and textile was no longer deemed as a reprocessing of natural products. Thus, Plural new textiles ensued.

Today, textile is pervasive in daily life and its manufacture enters the intelligence age.

How Is a Textile Made?

The Process of Textile Manufacturing

It necessitates elaborate processes and sophisticated methods to manufacture a textile with certain properties. For woven textiles, the manufacture contains yarn making, fabric making and textile finishing. However, other textiles not made of yarns only require the treatment of raw fibers.

Yarn Making

This process is the conversion of raw fibers into yarns. It involves

  • Treatment of raw material
  • Spinning: reeling, twisting, throwing, etc.
  • Yarn packaging

The yarn marking lays the groundwork for textile manufacturing. The quality and traits of yarns affect many facets of a textile, including appearance, texture, ductility, etc.

Fabric Making

This process is the conversion from yarns into fabrics. Utilization of diverse making methods endues fabrics with different properties.

Finishing Process

Finishing of fabrics aims at enhancing the commodity value of textiles. The procedures are primarily concerned with the textile’s appearance, texture and performance. Particularly, the previous process produces massive grey fabrics and their coloring is fully determined by finishing. Before treatment, some pretreatment will be performed to ensure the subsequent operation’s effects.

  • Pretreatment: scouring, bleaching, mercerization, etc.                          
  • Treatment for appearance: singeing, beetling, etc. 
  • Treatment for texture: sizing, softening, etc.
  • Treatment for performance: to improve shrinkage control, anti-static electricity, antibacterial property, etc.

Types of Fabric Making Methods

Fabric manufacturing can be conducted by an assortment of methods. Weaving and Knitting are elementary ways to interlace yarns, which are used for woven and kitten fabric making. Besides, the braid is interlaced by braiding.

  • Weaving: Warps and wefts cross to create a fabric’s structure with the help of shuttles.
  • Knitting: The up-and-down motion of stitching makes the basic structure, and each row of stitches passes through the previous row. 
  • Braiding: Twisting several pieces of fibers together with a certain pattern to make one braid.

Nonwoven fabrics have featured in upholstery. As a developing textile, the precise scope of nonwoven fabric retains a shadow of controversy. However, felting and bonding are recognized manufacturing methods.

  • Felting: Fibers are tightly attached together by needle felting, wet felting or nuno felting, to form a felt with thickness and density.
  • Bonding: It applies a specific melting adhesive to a network of fiber. Then, the fiber network is melted under heat and cooled to strengthen the fiber into a fabric.

Types of Fiber

A textile is always identified and named by what fiber it uses and how its fiber is manufactured. In textiles, fiber is any material capable of being made into yarns or fabrics. As the fundamental component of textiles, it is usually a pliable hair-like strand. A fiber’s diameter is tiny whereas its length varies from centimeters to hectometers. Fibers can be classified into 2 types based on their source, natural fibers and man-made fibers.

Natural fibers still constitute most of the raw materials of textiles. They can be garnered from 

animals, plants and minerals. Here is a brief introduction to natural fiber’s classification, components and represents.

  • Animal fiber(animal protein): silk, wool, camel hair, sinew, etc.
  • Plant fiber(cellulose): cotton, flax, hemp, etc.
  • Mineral fiber(oxide): silicon dioxide, magnesium oxide, aluminum oxide,  etc.

Man-made fibers, also named artificial fibers and chemical fibers, are manufactured by alternating natural fibers (regenerated fibers), synthesizing chemicals (synthetic fibers) and processing minerals (inorganic fibers).

  • Regenerated fiber: viscose fiber, cellulose acetate, copper ammonia fiber, etc.
  • Synthetic fiber: polyester, polyacrylonitrile fiber, nylon, etc.
  • Inorganic fiber: mental fiber, glass fiber, carbon fiber, etc.

Importance of Textile

Nowadays, textiles not only serve to fulfill people’s essential need for clothing. They find versatile applications in all walks of life and therefore are ubiquitous in living spaces. From the perspective of usage, textiles can be divided into consumer textiles and technical textiles.

Consumer Textiles

Consumer textiles are principally used for clothing and upholstery. Specifically, the clothes you wear, the bag you take, the towers you use, the curtain, etc, all pertain to this range. To sum up, consumer textiles provide comfort for their users and promote the well-being of daily life through their aesthetics. However, textiles are much more than apparel and home furnishing.

Technical Textiles

What is a technical textile? Many people have no clue about this question. In contrast to consumer textiles, technical textiles barely correlate with people’s domestic needs and attach less importance to aesthetics. They are specially designed and manufactured to equip some functional properties and fitness for purpose. Moreover, they are used in numerous industries, including horticulture, breeding, building, military field, and so on. Here is a conscious enumeration of technical textiles’ functional properties.

  • Mechanical functions: mechanical resistance, tenacity, elasticity, etc.
  • Exchange functions: conductivity, drainage, insulation, absorption, etc.
  • Functionalities for living beings: antimicrobial, anti-dust mites, biocompatibility, etc.
  • Protective functions: protection from chemicals, ultraviolet rays, fire, etc.

Textile Art

Textile art is defined as art creation via textile fibers. It has been integrated into people’s lives since the sprouting of civilization.

In ancient, textile art existed with practical functions. In about 5500 BC, Ancient India pioneered cotton cultivation and conceived the awareness of decorating clothes. During the same period, people of noble started their pursuit of silk in China, for its unparalleled aesthetics.

Yet, many critics did not admit textile art’s status in the realm of art. Compared to other forms, textile art reflected more of its value by performing its functions in the past. Those opposers even belittled textile artists and their work, hence a long and heated debate.

However, during the controversy of art vs craft, textile art itself gained the opportunity to boom and some of its products were divorced completely from practicability. Furthermore, the modern textile industry overwhelms the limit of a textile’s lifespan. Textile art has strides into the circle of unperishable arts.

Textile Recycle

Textile refuse is multiplying at a speed beyond imagination. With an endless flow of vigor into the fashion industry, people find their textiles ill-suited and outmoded more quickly. As we all know, a part of textile disposal ends up in landfills. It engenders more emission of carbon dioxide and pollution of land. Textile refuse is posing a grimmer challenge to the environment. 

However, the majority of textiles can be recycled. Professional textile recycling company arranges textile rubbish based on color and types of raw material. It then processes the sorted textiles and prepares them for fiber restoration. To wit, they can produce textile fibers reprocessed and reused to manufacture other textile products. Nevertheless, this kind of recycling corporation is not common and always covers much less regional recycling than expected.

How to Recycle Textiles?

If you are a climate-conscious one, you can get inspired through the following tips for textile recycling.

  • Sort out your discarded textiles by the degree of quality. For example, you can divide your clothes into three types, textiles of good condition, poor condition and terrible condition. Pay attention to unrecyclable items like old towels, used underwear, disposal slippers and contaminated medical gauze. They should be placed alone to avoid ruining the recycling of other textiles.
  • Make contact with textile recycling near you. For textiles in good condition, they can be resold to a close secondhand store or donated to local organizations. 
  • Organize recycling in your neighborhood. You may know that the recycling company allows remote recycle given a large quantity. But do you know that undeveloped countries also need a great deal of old textiles? Especially in countries under catastrophe, used textiles are rare resources and can be extremely helpful. So, you can try to amass used textiles of good condition in your community and give them a chance to revalue themselves.  In the meantime, you can gather textiles of poor condition in the same way and connect with a recycling company.


What is a Textile Mill?

It is a factory specializing in textile production. In the past, it usually contained all production processes from fibers making into textile products. Now, some mills only specialize in one process. Thus,  there are yarn-making mills, weaving mills, printing mills, etc. Textile mills boost massive and rapid production and make the textile industry more than a cottage industry.

Textile vs Fabric, Is Textile the Same as Fabric?

It depends. These two words indicate the same things in certain circumstances and can be interchanged. But to be precise, textiles can be fibers, yarns, filaments, and their products while fabrics are often textiles with a specific usage and through further manufacture. For example, denim ready to make jeans is or rather a type of fabric. 

How to Make Hand Printing on Textiles?

DIY project of textile printing can be much handier than your imagination. There are several options for you, such as wax paper transfer. You need to prepare an ink printer, printing papers,  a spray adhesive and fabrics of different patterns. Flat your fabrics and attach them to the printing papers. Then cut them to the size you want and print them in the printer. You can make your combination here to print two or more patterns on one fabric. Finally, remove the printing paper from the fabric and you get a fabric with new printing. 

What is GSM in Textiles?

The abbreviation “GSM” stands for “Grams Per Square Meter”. It is a parameter used to gauge the density and quality of textiles. Its equation is that the sample weight divides the product of sample length and width. Therefore, the density is better with a higher GSM when the textiles are of the same yarns.

What is Acrylic Textile?

Acrylic textiles are synthetic fabrics commonly used in our daily lives. They resemble organic wool, fluffy, soft and warm. More importantly, it is economical with better warmth, elasticity, density and durability than wool.  If you want to know more details, this comprehensive guide to acrylic fabric covers all things you need. 

What is Rayon Textile?

Rayon textile is a type of synthetic fabric made of plant cellulose. It thrives in garment manufacturing for its outstanding texture, sustainability and affordability.

Is Leather a Textile?

Yes, leather is a textile. Textiles are more than soft cloth and leather is a textile made of natural fibers from animal skin.

What is ISO in Textile?

The acronym “ISO” stands for “International Organization for Standards”, an organization in charge of the standardization of almost all industries worldwide. ISO in the textile offers a wide spectrum of criteria covering numerous aspects, assisting consistency and normalization of the textile industry. For example, ISO 9001 formulates standards for textile quality and ISO 45001 sets rules to protect the security and rights of textile practitioners.


Textile is a little more complicated than people’s common sense. It is inevitable for anyone and exerts a huge influence on society as well. Sinosilk is committed to inheriting the cultural value of textiles and offering the best custom silk products. Please contact us if you want to explore more, and we will make every effort to assist with your problems.

More Resource:

Textile – Source: Wikipedia

Textile – Source: Britannica

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