There are two main categories of textile fabrics that are natural and artificial fibres. Natural fibres are given more priority in today’s shopping climate as they are considered to be both sustainable and safe for use. Natural fibres can be categorised further depending on where it is sourced. There are animal fibres, plant fibres and mineral fibres that come under this umbrella.
There is a rich variety of items that are created with natural fibre such as rugs, woven bags like bilum bags, carpets, packaging, ropes, fishing nets, clothing etc. When we look at clothing made of natural fibre, cotton is a material that is very popular. There are four varieties of cotton and this is a fabric that can absorb water easily. So it is very popular in hot climates. It is also very soft to the touch. In addition to clothes, they are used to make tents, beddings and coffee filters. Jute fibre is another popular natural fibre that is very strong. It is biodegradable and the growing of the crop is environmentally friendly as you can forgo the use of pesticides for it. It has high insulation properties and they are used as geotextiles, carpet backing, rugs, packaging, sacks etc.
Linen is a comfortable fabric to be worn much like cotton. It is stronger and stiffer than cotton. It has high tensile strength but the fabric can crease quite easily. There are many summer clothes that are made from linen. Coir fibre is obtained from coconut husks. It decomposes slowly so it is used much in the production of geotextiles. It is not a flexible fibre and you can’t dye it because of its natural properties. This is a fibre that has waterproof properties therefore, it is used to make ropes and fishing nets. Hemp fibre consists mainly of cellulose. It has antibacterial properties and it is a biodegradable fibre. Hemp can be dyed easily and it has a resistance to mildew. It has high insulation properties and is very durable. They are used for agro textiles.
Wool is obtained from sheep fleece and the diameter of wool fibre changes according to the breed of sheep. For example, merino wool is the finest when it comes to diameter and it is sourced from Merino sheep in Australia and New Zealand. Wool has high insulation properties and good elastic recovery. Wool is used to make clothing, crafts and blankets. Silk is a natural fibre that is known for its luxurious feel. It is a strong fabric and its molecular nature allows for light refraction. Silk has always been associated with luxury and royalty. It can be dyed easily and they are used for both clothing and home furnishings.
Manila hemp or abaca fibre is a leaf fibre that has a lustre. It has high mechanical strength and therefore is used for making ropes, fishing lines and nets. Camel fibre is an animal fibre and therefore the diameter of the fibre varies. When the diameter is reduced, it increases the softness of the fabric. This also increases its value. They can be used to make all types of clothing. Another animal fibre is alpaca fibre and it is very soft. It repels water naturally and is fire-resistant. A special characteristic of alpaca fibre is its hypoallergenic property.