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Fibres Explained


Fibres are made as a complicated structure; all fibres come from different places and groups such as natural fibres, regenerated and synthetic fibres, these are all used for garments depending on the result and needs of the consumer.

Natural fibres are from growing resources such as plants and animals; it includes wool, silk, linen and cotton.

Regenerated fibres are natural non animal, non fibrous growing sources and they are treated with chemicals to produce the fibres which include triacetate, acetate and viscose.

Synthetic fibres are chemical only and made using coal or oil; these include pvc, polypropylene, polyamide (nylon), polyurethane, acrylic and polyester. After being processed the fibres molecules (polymers) which when joined are a structure which will then affect the properties of the fibres.

Wool is one of the most used fibres especially during winter. The international wool secretariat is constantly trying to develop and progress the finishing of the wool within the industry.

Animals used to provide fibres include the alpaca and guanaco which are two types of llama, they are shorn every two years and the fibres are used for knitted jackets and blankets. Cashmere comes from Mongolia and Himalayan goats and are used for hats and knitwear which has a very fine, soft structural fibre.

The fibre substance of silk is fibron, which is a long chain of protein molecule, made by a silk moth which spins a cocoon of silk. Fabrics made from silk include chiffon, crepe and satin.

Cotton is made from polymers of cellulose which is a natural fibre, it grows on small bushes and when it flowers, these pods are called ‘balls’. There are different types of cotton grown from different countries which are all classified depending on origin or variety.   

Regenerated fibres come from natural resources such as wood pulp; before it’s made into a fibre it’s mixed with a chemical to extract the cellulose. Acrylic is made from chemicals such as oil, and made exactly as staple fibres are made.

Viscose is extracted from pine, eucalyptus or beech trees, after it’s purified, bleached and pressed into solid sheets.
Once the sheets have been steeped in sodium hydroxide solution, it penetrates molecular bundles to loosen the structure, this creates soda cellulose. Once the liquid has been taken off so it can be aged it causes a reaction in the strength of the molecules. Once the spinning fluid has been degassed, filtered and extruded; it’s regenerated into a spinning bath and spun into a filament of yarn and wound onto a spool, its then washed and dried. Triacetate can be dry spun and is made from glucose triacetate, which is similar to acetate fibres.


Synthetic fibres are made by a similar process again with chemicals such as coal or oil. The molecules are joined to make a complex structure called monomers, the process is called polymersation. The fibres themselves are made and produced by dry spinning, wet spinning or melt spinning.

By Abigail Stephenson

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