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30 August 2014
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Technology - Things we wear

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Information about materials

Information about materials


The contents of this section of the shared area relate only to the themes, subject and content of the television and on-line sites released to date. This section will expand as other programmes and sites are developed.

What follows are some simple, useful facts about some materials. The information will help pupils decide which they think is 'best' for the solution they intend. Pupils should be encouraged to set and use criteria (based upon the criteria for design) for the selection and rejection of materials for a specific purpose. They can use these when sifting through what follows and to interrogate other data-bases. Ask pupils for reasons for the selections and rejections they make.

Expect pupils to seek out other information on particular materials (can be gained through testing) and to add it to that provided below. Include up-to-date prices as much as possible as this will permit pupils to make judgments based on costs as well as the working characteristics, environmental information and/or properties of materials.

The information about materials will be found below. This is to allow you to print and copy so that the information can be given direct to the pupils if you so wish.

Information about materials


  • Some wool's are soft but others are scratchy.
  • Wool is great for clothes because it's very warm and although it can be soft, it is quite hard wearing.
  • Wool absorbs moisture very well. However, it shrinks if washed incorrectly.
  • Wool is natural. It comes from the fleece of sheep.


  • Nylon is strong, lightweight and stretchable.
  • It's a good material to use for clothes because dirt doesn't cling to it, making it easy to clean. It's also very hard wearing.
  • Nylon dries quickly as it does not absorb moisture well. But it is difficult to dye.
  • Care must be taken when ironing- nylon melts at high temperatures!
  • It can feel clammy and hot in the heat.
  • Nylon is man-made and cannot be found in nature.


  • It is cool and comfortable to wear in the heat.
  • Linen wrinkles easily.
  • It is easy to dye.
  • Although linen absorbs water well and dries quickly, it can shrink.
  • It is not a stretchy material.
  • Linen is natural it comes from a plant.


  • It is hard wearing and can be washed many times.
  • Cotton breathes! This means it soaks up water or moisture and then releases it into the air. This is especially good for clothes as it keeps you cool.
  • It is easy to dye.
  • It absorbs water very well and gets dirty easily.
  • Cotton is natural it grows on a plant. But it requires a lot of water to grow. It requires many chemical to help it grow and to keep it free from pests and weeds.


  • It is very light , and comfortable to wear- cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.
  • Silk is a very delicate fabric. It is difficult to clean and easily damaged by hot irons and strong soap powders.
  • Silk is easy to dye.
  • It is natural and is produced by silk worms.


  • It is strong, stretchable and very hard wearing.
  • Polyester does not take up dye very easily.
  • Polyester is quick drying and washes well.
  • It does not wrinkle easily.
  • It can feel hot or clammy in the heat.
  • Polyester is a man made fabric.


  • Denim is made by tightly weaving cotton.
  • It is crisp when new but softens the more you wash it.
  • It is easy to dye.
  • The dyes in denim fade when washed.
  • There are many types of denim, some are heavy, some are light, but most are warm to wear.
  • Denim is natural as it is made from cotton.


  • Leather is very tough. It is difficult to tear or puncture and is very flexible.
  • Leather is water-resistant.
  • Leather dyes well, but requires a lot of chemicals to cure it.
  • Leather is a natural material which is often made from cow hide.


  • Canvas is a tough cloth- made by tightly weaving cotton or other materials.
  • It feels light and cool.
  • Canvas absorbs moisture and can mould.
  • Canvas is easy to dye.
  • Canvas is a natural material


  • Felt is fairly smooth to the touch.
  • It is not woven.
  • It takes up and gives off dye easily.
  • It holds it shape and therefore does not stretch.
  • It shrinks when washed.
  • Felt is normally formed from natural fibres.

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