Chapter – 3: ‘FIBRE TO FABRIC’
Variety in Fabrics
- There is a variety of clothing material or fabric, such as, cotton, silk, wool and polyester.
- A fabric (cloth) is made up of yarns (threads) arranged together.
- Fabrics are made up of yarns and yarns are further made up of fibres.
- The thin strands of thread are made up of still thinner strands called fibres.
- Fibres are either natural or synthetic.
- The fibres of some fabrics such as cotton, jute, silk and wool are obtained from plants and animals. These are called natural fibres.
- Cotton and jute are examples of fibres obtained from plants.
- Wool and silk fibres are obtained from animals.
- Wool is obtained from the fleece (A soft bulky fabric with deep pile; used chiefly for clothing) of sheep or goat. It is also obtained from the hair of rabbits, yak and camels.
- Silk fibre is drawn from the cocoon of silkworm.
- Fabrics are made from yarns, which in turn are made from fibres.
- Fibres are also made from chemical substances, which are not obtained from plant or animal sources. These are called synthetic fibres. Some examples of synthetic fibres are polyester, nylon and acrylic.
Some Plant Fibres
- Cotton plants are usually grown at places having black soil and warm climate.
- The fruits of the cotton plant (cotton bolls) are about the size of a lemon.
- After maturing, the bolls burst open and the seeds covered with cotton fibres can be seen.
- From these bolls, cotton is usually picked by hand.
- Fibres are then separated from the seeds by combing. This process is called ginning of cotton.
- Ginning was traditionally done by hand. These days, machines are also used for ginning.
- Jute fibre is obtained from the stem of the jute plant.
- It is cultivated during the rainy season.
- In India, jute is mainly grown in West Bengal, Bihar and Assam.
- The jute plant is normally harvested when it is at flowering stage.
- The stems of the harvested plants are immersed in water for a few days. The stems rot and fibres are separated by hand.
- To make fabrics, all these fibres are first converted into yarns.
Spinning Cotton Yarn
- The process of making yarn from fibres is called spinning.
- In this process, fibres from a mass of cotton wool are drawn out and twisted. This brings the fibres together to form a yarn
- A simple device used for spinning is a hand spindle, also called takli.
- Another hand-operated device used for spinning is charkha.
- Use of charkha was popularised by Mahatma Gandhi as part of the Independence movement. He encouraged people to wear clothes made of homespun yarn and shun imported cloth made in the mills of Britain.
- Spinning of yarn on a large-scale is done with the help of spinning machines. After spinning, yarns are used for making fabrics.
Yarn to Fabric
- There are many ways by which fabrics are made from yarns. The two main processes are weaving and knitting.
- The process of arranging two sets of yarns together to make a fabric is called weaving.
- Weaving of fabric is done on looms.
- The looms are either hand-operated or power operated.
- In knitting, a single yarn is used to make a piece of fabric.
- Socks and many other clothing items are made of knitted fabrics.
- Knitting is done by hand and also on machines.
- Weaving and knitting are used for making different kinds of fabric.
History of Clothing Material
- In ancient times people used the bark and big leaves of trees or animal skins and furs to cover themselves.
- After people began to settle in agricultural communities, they learnt to weave twigs and grass into mats and baskets.
- The early Indians wore fabrics made out of cotton that grew in the regions near the river Ganga.
- Flax is also a plant that gives natural fibres.
- In ancient Egypt, cotton as well as flax were cultivated near the river Nile and were used for making fabrics.
- In those days, stitching was not known. People simply draped the fabrics around different parts of their body.
- With the invention of the sewing needle, people started stitching fabrics to make clothes.
- It is amazing that even today saree, dhoti, lungi or turban is used as an un-stitched piece of fabric.
- Just as there is a large variety in the food eaten all over our country, a large variety exists also in fabrics and clothing items.
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