Are used for making clothing materials and fabrics that are used for.

  • covering and protecting body from extreme weather conditions to maintain body temperature.
  • keep us dry when wet e.g towels.
  • to look attractive
  • Fabrics are made from yarn.
  • Yarn is from fibres twisted together woven/spun to make threads,

NB:- Source of fibres

  • natural
  • man made
  • artificial

Classification of fibres

Def:- hair like unit of raw materials from which cloths are made, e.g – cloth

  • wool
  • silk
  • polyester
  • Natural fibres
  • Man made fibres


Natural fibre

From parts of plants e.f

  • cotton
  • flax
  • animals e.g sheep and silkworm

Go through many processes then are spun or twisted together making yarn that makes fabric e.g cotton, linen, wool.

  • Man made fibres
    1. Produced through chemical treatment of raw materials e.g petroleum extracts and by products of coal.
    2. They are treated chemically to form fine filament/threads, are twisted together and stretched giving them strength and elasticity.

Classification using a diagram

 Properties of common textile fibres

Natural fibres

  • Cottone.g gingham, lawn, calinq and flannelette, jinju, poplic, khaki, toweling and corduroy –
  • it is easy to handle,
  • inexpensive,
  • strong and hard wearing so widely used


  • for warm wear it is a good conductor of heat, – for making beddings,
  • underwear, it doesn’t generate static electricity,
  • towels and sportsmen it absorbs sweat
  • curtains,
  • hospital bed sheets stands high temperature,
  • upholstery clothing of all kinds,
  • used for making sewing embroidery threads,
  • uniforms because it stands frequent washing and stain removal.


Desirable properties 

It is absorbent so used for making clothes worn next to the body e.g

  • underwears,
  • nightdresses,
  • sportswear
  • doesn’t generate static electricity,
  • absorbed moisture evaporates fast so makes the fabric dry faster. Therefore it is suitable for  hot climate because it is cool,
  • withstands mild alkalis, detergents and stain removing agents,
  • some are warm because they are treated to make them fluffy in order to trap air,
  • a good conductor of heat,
  • it is strong a strong when wet so can’t be scrubbed,
  • it is mothproof,
  • can be mixed with other fibres to lower the cost and improve wearing quality because it is strong hard weaving and expensive.
  • it stands high temperature so suitable for use in hospitals,
  • it takes dyes readily.


Undesirable properties

  • develops mildew when left damp for long,
  • gets dirty easily,
  • it creases though when blended with rest it becomes more crease resistant,
  • destroyed by storing aids,
  • shrinks if not treated,
  • lacks luster
  • burns readily when exposed to a flame, – weakened by long exposure to sun.

Physical identification

  • when burnt flares up yellow flame produced leaves grey ash and smells like paper.

NB:- Behaves differently when mixed with others.

  • Linen

From inside stalk of flax plan:  Examples: Damack, toweling, a dress fabric, canvas.  It is stronger


  • for table linen table mats, tray clothes,
  • for handkerchiefs and church linen,
  • for button and embroidery thread since it is strong and durable, – quality classes, face towels, scarves.

Desirable properties of linen

  • strong than cotton
  • highly absorbent,
  • it is cool to wear because moisture evaporate faster so suits summer dresses and bed sheets.
  • it is smooth that makes if shiny and attractive,
  • it is a good conductor of heat so suits warm weather,
  • it is resistant to sunlight than cotton so suits making curtains,

Undesirable properties

  • creases easily though can be treated to become crease resistant,
  • grays more readily,
  • develops mildew stains if left damp for long, – weakened by acids and alkalis.

Physical identification of linen

  • flares up,
  • burns with yellow flame, – leaves grey ash.

3) Wool

From fleece of merino sheep.  Can also be from goats, camels and rabbits.


for making warm clothing e.g sweaters, suits, jackets, shawls and blankets, overalls.

NB:- Needs special care e.g

  • washing with warm soapy water and maintaining temperature even for making.
  • using a mild detergent,
  • drying flat to prevent stretching,
  • attacked by moths so keep away by using mothballs.

Desirable properties of wool

  • has good elasticity – stretches well and goes to original shape and size,
  • is absorbent – absorb water to 50% without feeling wet,
  • it is warm because of the overlapping scales around fibres,
  • it is wrinkle resistant,
  • is soft, non-inflammable and dyes well.


Undesirable properties of wool

  • damaged by alkalis so should be washed by mild soap,
  • damaged by rubbing and high temperature,
  • shrinks easily and felts,
  • it shouldn’t be soaked during laundering because it is weak,
  • can pull out of shape,
  • gets mildew stains if stored while damp,
  • attacked by moth and silver fish.

Physical identification of wool

  •  smoulders and turns into black bead
  •   gives smell of burnt hair/feathers.

4) Silk e.g taffeta, chiffer, georgette, orguza, velvet

  • from silkworm,
  • it is soft, warm and strong
  • has long threads and fine,
  • it is expensive.


  • dress fabrics, furnishings, shirts, blouses and neckties

Desirable properties of silk

  • it is soft and drapes well,
  • Has a lovely sheen and pleasant to handle therefore suits luxurious underwear,
  • A good insulator, warm in winter and cool in summer,
  • very strong and fine,
  • elastic so wears well and therefore suitable for sewing thread,
  • sheds creases easily so suitable for travel,
  • dyes easily, absorbent.

Undesirable properties of silk

  • sensitive to alkalis, therefore suits mild detergents during laundry,
  • it is weak when wet so shouldn’t be carelessly when washing,
  • it is very strong, its elastic, grease resistant and drapes well, damaged by alkali and acids,
  • non-inflammable,
  • resistant to mildew, fungi and moth,
  • affected by strong sunlight,
  • not easy to remove sweat stains and therefore garments have to be prevented from perspiration.

Physical identification

  • smoulders and runs into a black bead,
  • the bead is crushable,
  • smells like burning hair.



Viscose rayon

  • it is used for various kinds of fabrics,
  • mixed with other fibres e.g wool, cotton to improve qualities, to make outer wear, underwear, linings, table linen and household furnishings,
  • used for a variety of clothes, furnishing carpets and other household items.

Desirable properties of viscose rayon

  • highly absorbent, bends to retain moisture so takes long to dry,
  • a good conductor of heat so cool to wear,
  • weaker when wet,
  • flammable,
  • soft and drapes well,
  • mothproof,
  • mildew proof though develops when wet,
  • strong (very),
  • takes dyes,
  • mellows and rots when exposed to light,
  • weakened b acids but not alkalis,
  • weak when wet and damaged by long exposure to the sun,
  • creases badly and doesn’t shed crease.

Physical identification of viscose rayon

  • burns,
  • leaves grey ash,

SYNTHETIC FIBRES (Are made from petroleum products and natural gases) Nylon

  • from chemicals, air, waste and coal,
  • used in form of continous filament and shape of fibre
  • staple fibre used alone/blended with others e.g wool/cotton.

Desirable properties of nylon

  • not affected by alkalis/weak acids,
  • thermoplastic can be permanently pleated,
  • doesn’t shrinks/stretch, – needs little/no ironing,
  • doesn’t conduct heat,
  • dyes easily,
  • acting in those made of spun nylon, crease
  • resistant so mixed with others to increase resistance,
  • smooth,
  • resists abrasion and when blended with rest it increases their resistance,
  • it is very finer, extremely strong, elastic and light weight,
  • affected by household bleaches,
  • very strong when dry and wet,
  • it is veviatide can be produced in a variety of texture, thickness and finishes,
  • not absorbent,
  • hangs to the body,
  • resistant to moth and mildew,

NB;- stockings, dress fabric, furnishings, lingeries and outwear. e.g of nylon, jersey and satin.


Physical identification 

  • if burnt it runs away from flame,
  • melts into a hard bead,
  • under microscope it looks like glass rods stretched with parallel wavy lines.

5) Polyester

Desirable qualities of polyester

  • very strong with slightly less strength when wet,
  • easy to launder and dries quickly,
  • needs no ironing/little,
  • crease resistant but can be permanently pleated,
  • smooth, soft and drapes well,
  • not damaged by dry cleaning agents, alkalis and acids of not too much,
  • not damaged by light and sunlight so suits curtains,
  • mothproof and resistant to mildew,
  • flame resistant,
  • has a high affinity of dyes.

Undesirable properties of polyester

  • high temperature damage it and therefore use low ironing temperature,
  • bright / dull depending on desired effect,
  • produces static electricity,
  • resistant to abrasion, heat and sunlight and allusive acids,
  • frays easily,
  • can be blended with other fabrics,
  • only absorbent if blended with other fibres,
  • stain and dirt are easily removed.

Uses: to make dress fabrics, suiting materials and household furnishings e.g jersey, terylene suiting, polyester

Physical identification

  • when burnt it is forced into a hard bead,
  • difficult to light but eventually burns with a yellow flame,
  • give an aromatic smell

Asbestos eg drinsotile

From natural rock;

  • non inflammable,
  • resistant to chemicals, insect and micro-organisms.


  • make theatre curtains,
  • protective clothing e.g overalls for fire officers,
  • insulator in manufacture of electric appliance


Desirable properties 

  • drapes well,
  • easy to sew
  • warm and soft,
  • shrink resistant,
  • doesn’t stretch,
  • soft and luxurious,
  • has a low ability to absorb moisture and therefore dries faster,
  • resistant and sheds off creases easily,
  • not harmed by bleaches,
  • not affected by sun so suits curtains,
  • can be permanently pleaded and so can be blended with rest to make them easy to be pleaded, – light in weight,
  • not affected by mildew, moths and makes other fibres mothproof if blended with them, – resistant to soiling,
  • easy to dye,
  • can be blended with other fabrics to add desirable qualities.

Undesirable properties

  • clings to the body because it produces static electricity,


  • making warm clothes, sweater, blankets and coats and household furnishings e.g carpets and rugs,

Physical identification

burns leaving a tar like black bead and shrivels away from the flame,

dissolves in concentrated nitric acid.




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