Friday, July 31, 2009


textile is a cloth, which is either woven by hand or machine. "Textile" has traditionally meant, "a woven fabric". The term comes from the Latin word texere, meaning to weave.

Fibers are the raw materials for all fabrics. Some fibers occur in nature as fine strands that can be twisted into yarns. These natural fibers come from plants, animals, and minerals. For most of history, people had only natural fibers to use in making cloth. But modern science has learned how to produce fibers by chemical and technical means. Today, these manufactured fibers account for more than two-thirds of the fibers processed by U.S. textile mills.

Plants provide more textile fibers than do animals or minerals. Cotton fibers produce soft, absorbent fabrics that are widely used for clothing, sheets, and towels. Fibers of the flax plant are made into linen. The strength and beauty of linen have made it a popular fabric for fine tablecloths, napkins, and handkerchiefs.

The main animal fiber used for textiles is wool. Another animal fiber, silk, produces one of the most luxurious fabrics. Sheep supply most of the wool, but members of the camel family and some goats also furnish wool. Wool provides warm, comfortable fabrics for dresses, suits, and sweaters. Silk comes from cocoons spun by silkworms. Workers unwind the cocoons to obtain long, natural filaments. Fabrics made from silk fibers have great luster and softness and can be dyed brilliant colors. Silk is especially popular for scarfs and neckties.

Most manufactured fibers are made from wood pulp, cotton linters, or petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are chemicals made from crude oil and natural gas. The chief fibers manufactured from petrochemicals include nylon, polyester, acrylic, and olefin. Nylon has exceptional strength, wears well, and is easy to launder. It is popular for hosiery and other clothing and for carpeting and upholstery. Such products as conveyor belts and fire hoses are also made of nylon.

Most textiles are produced by twisting fibers into yarns and then knitting or weaving the yarns into a fabric. This method of making cloth has been used for thousands of years. But throughout most of that time, workers did the twisting, knitting, or weaving largely by hand. With today's modern machinery, textile mills can manufacture as much fabric in a few seconds as it once took workers weeks to produce by hand.

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