What Are Our Clothes Made From?
What Are Our Clothes Made From?
Clothes today are made from a wide range of different materials. Traditional materials
such as cotton, linen and leather are still sourced from plants and animals. But most
clothes are more likely to be made of materials and chemicals derived from fossil fuel-
based crude oil.
There are nine major types of raw materials commonly used in clothing today.
The source of synthetic fibres and Fabric
s is the fossil fuel crude oil. It is estimated that 65% of all fibres used in the
fashion industry are made from a synthetic material – mainly polyester, but also nylon,
acrylic, polypropylene and elastane. Around 98% of all future fibre growth is expected to
be in synthetic fibres, 95% of which is expected to be polyester.
One of the oldest used fibres and the most important non-food crop in the world is
cotton. Currently, cotton makes up around 21% of all fibre use globally – about 21 million
tonnes – but its share of the market is declining due to competition from synthetic
alternatives. Cotton production is particularly important for farmers in lower-income
countries, where approximately 350 million people are involved in its cultivation and
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating
Home Textiles or other materials
with needle and thread or yarn. In this way, it has been practiced for decades.
The origin of embroidery can be dated back to Cro-Magnon days or 30,000 BC. During a
recent archaeological find, fossilized remains of heavily hand-stitched and decorated
clothing, boots and a hat were found.
In Siberia, around 5000 and 6000 B.C. elaborately drilled shells stitched with
decorative designs onto animal hides were discovered. Chinese thread embroidery dates back
to 3500 B.C. where pictures depict embroidery of clothing with silk thread, precious stones
and pearls. Examples of surviving Chinese chain stitch embroidery worked in silk thread
have also been found and dated to the Warring States period (5th-3rd century BC).
and most other fiber and needlework arts are believed to originate in the Orient and Middle
East. Primitive humankind quickly found that the stitches used to join animal skins
together could also be used for embellishment. Recorded history, sculptures, paintings and
vases depicting inhabitants of various ancient civilizations show people wearing thread-
During the 1100's, smaller seed pearls were sewn on vellum to decorate religious
items and from the 1200's through 1300's beads were embroidered onto clothing. By
1500 A.D., embroideries had become more lavish in Europe, as well as other areas of the
world. From this period through the 1700's elaborate thread and bead embroidery gained
popularity. Bead embroidery could be found on layette baskets, court dress, home
furnishings and many other items.
Bead Embroidery, religious objects, and household items have been a mark of wealth
and status in many cultures including ancient Persia, India, China, Japan, Byzantium, and
medieval and Baroque Europe. Traditional folk techniques were passed from generation to
generation in cultures as diverse as northern Vietnam, Mexico, and eastern Europe.
Professional workshops and guilds arose in medieval England. The output of these workshops,
called Opus Anglicanum or "English work," was famous throughout Europe. The
manufacture of machine-made embroideries in St. Gallen in eastern Switzerland flourished in
the latter half of the 19th century.
There are a number of fabrics that are commonly used to make
Curtains and drapes. The
fibers that are used to manufacture the material determine how well it will wear and wash
and how well it will hang at your window or door. The yarns used to construct the fabric
can be man-made or animal or vegetable in origin.
One of the most useful fabrics in the interior designer's resource toolbox is
cotton. It is a vegetable fibre and in its simplest form, it is known as calico. This is
medium-weight cotton that is unbleached and plain woven. It is relatively cheap and has a
matt finish so it can be used extravagantly to create window treatments that are dramatic
and strong. It should be noted, however, that cotton tends to shrink so it is well worth
washing your cotton fabric before you make your curtains. Another natural and basic cotton
material is muslin. This is a very fine and loosely woven form of cotton. Like calico it is
relatively cheap and can be used extravagantly to create lavish and unusual decorative
New Window Screens
with pollutant-trapping nanofibers may allow residents of smog-choked cities to
breathe easier. The fibers are made of nitrogen-containing polymers and are sprayed onto
screens in a technique called blow-spinning, in which a stream of air stretches out
droplets of polymer solution in midspray to form an extremely thin layer of nanofibers.
Scientists at Stanford University and at Tsinghua University in Beijing recently
reported in Nano Letters that they have developed a variety of blow-spun polymers
(materials commonly used in rubber gloves and tents) capable of filtering more than 90
percent of the hazardous, lung-penetrating particulate matter that typically passes through
standard window screens. The pollutant-absorbing nanofibers were sprayed onto rolling
flexible nylon mesh at a rate of almost one meter per minute. Researchers also deposited
the fibers onto metal-coated mesh and wiped off the film with tissues after heavy