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Design & Technology



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Fibres are the basis for all textiles. You need to know the difference between natural and synthetic fibres, how each fibre is used, and which fibres can be combined together.

Types of fibre

Textile materials are made in three stages:

  1. spinning: fibres are spun into yarns
  2. weaving or knitting: yarns become fabrics
  3. finishing: fabrics are finished to make them more useful

There are two types of textile fibres:

  • natural
  • synthetic

Natural fibres

Natural fibres come from plants, animals and minerals. They usually have short fibres, called staple fibres. The exception to this rule is silk, a natural fibre whose continuous filaments are up to one kilometre in length!

Sources of natural fibres

  • Cotton from the cotton plant.
  • Linen from the flax plant.
  • Wool from sheep.
  • Silk from silkworms.

Synthetic fibres

Synthetic fibres are man-made, usually from chemical sources. They are continuous filament fibres, which means the fibres are long and do not always have to be spun into yarn.

Sources of synthetic fibres

  • Viscose comes from pine trees or petrochemicals.
  • Acrylic, nylon and polyester come from oil and coal.


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