Each fibre has different properties (things that they do) that makes them more or less suitable for different products. Exam questions often ask you to suggest a fibre for a particular product so it is useful to know what their properties are. Sometimes fibres are blended or mixed together to make a yarn with the best properties of both fibres. eg. Cotton and polyester are mixed to make Polycotton. Crese resistant but more absorbent than polyester alone would be.

Cotton (natural, plant fibre)

Performance characteristics
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Cotton fibres:
· Are fine, flexible and lie close together making cotton cool to wear.
· Crease easily
· Strong and absorbs water easily
· Washes well
Good for anything that might have to absorb water or keep you cool.
Shirts, cool summer dresses, sheets, towels.

Linen ( Natural plant fibre)


Performance characteristics
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Linen fibres:
· Linen is a poor insulator making it cool to wear.
· Creases very easily
· Strong and absorbs water easily, is stronger when wet.
· Hardwearing
· Washes well and dries quickly
· Less comfortable to wear than cotton as less flexible.
Good for anything that might have to absorb water, keep you cool or be very hardwearing.
Often used for tablecloths and jackets or trousers but these crease easily which can be part of the design.

Wool (Natural animal fibre)


Performance characteristics
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Wool fibres:
· Are resistant to creasing and quite elastic. This makes them comfortable to wear.
· Insulate well because the fibres trap air between them.
· Are very absorbent but also slightly repel water.
· Can be felted together when warm and wet. So care must be taken when washing.
Good for products that keep you warm such as jumpers. Also good for coats or uniforms as warm and repel water.

Silk (Natural animal fibre)

Silk production clip
Performance characteristics
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Silk fibres:
· Are cool fibres but can also keep you warm.
· Are absorbent and dye well.
· Are long and smooth fibres which give a lustrous and soft finish.
· Does not crease easily
· Are very strong
Used for tops and blouses, often lingerie and nightwear.