A quick look at the manufacturer’s tag in most clothing identifies its fabric composition. You must rely on accurate labeling or your own knowledge of fabrics when buying fabric by the yard. With the number of blended fabrics, it is difficult to identify them by feel alone.
Natural Plant Fibers
Fabric produced from plants include cotton, linen, hemp and bamboo fabrics. Natural materials such as cotton are perfect for undergarments and sportswear because they are breathable. Linen is produced from flax and is considered more of a luxury fabric due to its natural strength. Hemp and bamboo produce coarser fabrics.
Natural Protein Fibers
Natural protein fiber material comes from animal products such as hair, skin and other body parts. Silk and wool are common protein-fiber fabrics used in clothing. Designers use leather and other animal skins for shoes, belts, purses and other accessories in addition to clothing.
Sometimes called synthetic materials, manmade fabrics include acetate, acrylic, nylon and polyester. Acetate is commonly used for linings and party attire due to its rich feel and wide array of color choices. Acrylic fabric is also known as imitation wool. Stretchy, durable nylon is perfect for luggage, covers and sheets, while polyester is very wrinkle-resistant.
Mixing natural and manmade fibers ideally creates a blend that takes on the positive characteristics of each. For example, with a cotton/polyester blend you get the comfort of cotton with the wrinkle-resistance of polyester. Linsey-woolsey, a combination of linen and wool, provides extra strength and warmth when compared to linen and wool alone.