Textile, Fabrics and Fibres

03_fabricIf you ask me if I prefer online shopping over shopping in a ‘physical’ shop, I’m not sure what the answer is. I love the comfort of online shopping; ordering from home, no queues at check out, fitting at home with shoes and accessories handy to see if the item complements your wardrobe. The advantage of a ‘real shop’ is that various sizes and colors are within reach, you can bring the item home immediately, and you can feel the fabrics. This last point is exactly what I want to talk about today.

When going to the Long Tall Sally pop-up shop, a comment I heard a lot was that the ladies preferred to feel the fabrics and see the item on before purchasing it, as with online shopping, the items do not always meet expectations as fabrics sometimes look different on a picture. I must say: I have had this experience a few times as well, and though I am getting better at reading fabric labels, google still is my best friend.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the basics: I know what to expect when cotton, wool, denim or silk is on the label, but it starts to get confusing when descriptions read like
12% viscose, 19% silk, 16% polyester, 53% acrylic for instance; I’m not sure what to expect in that case (not to mention confusing descriptions like ‘fluted metallic devoré-georgette’ or ‘paneled metallic fil coupé crepe and silk-blend chiffon’).


I guess you learn quickly about various fabrics and their qualities when you are a fashion designer or a tailor, but (unfortunately) I’m neither, so I have to educate myself. I therefore did some research on fabrics and I’d like to share a few links that I’m hoping you’ll find helpful when finding your way through fabric land when contemplating buying that gorgeous piece online.


The first very helpful one is this link from the BBC, which sums up in a very straight-forward way the difference between natural and synthetic fibres, where they come from, and what their qualities are; very basics but it starts at getting the basics right.


Did you know satin is technically a weave, and not a fabric? I surely didn’t.
Every day is a school day. You can read more about weaves, fabrics and fabric-blends on


I must say, I was a bit shocked when I learned about how much chemicals are actually used to create synthetic fibres. I mean, acrylic, nylon and polyester come from oil and coal! Though not always possible, I want to try to make an effort to choose items predominantly made from natural fibres for future purchases. For that reason, the Guide to Natural and Eco-Friendly Fabrics from green living online, is very helpful.


Finally, this helpful glossary from gives an extensive overview of fabrics and fibres, but also of cuts and shapes and other terminology used by fashion professionals.

This post certainly self-educated me on fabrics and I hope these links give you a bit of guidance when getting lost in the fabric jungle out there. If I have missed anything or if you know of a great link or website about this topic, please do let me know, as I am interested to learn more.


All pictures are courtesy of Pinterest

1 Comment

  • Reply
    8 December 2015 at 11:09

    I’m so happy you posted this helpful write-up. I’ve been trying to pay more attention to fabrics myself lately and also find the “blended” synthetic fabrics very confusing. I know that people tend to villanize synthetics a bit for having poor quality, not being breathable etc., but I never realized how they were made. Yikes! Certainly not eco-friendly. I saved this post so that I can take my time reading all of the links you found. I’m sure it’ll be very educational.

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