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The many types of fabrics and their unusual uses

What are the different types of fabrics? Today we’ll look at the many types of fabrics we may or may not use on a daily basis. This is going to be a list of what each fabric is and what they are normally used for. It will be a collection of both natural, synthetic and mixed fabrics


We’ll start with one of the most common fabrics on this list. Cotton is a very soft, staple fibre that comes from the Gossypium genus. These grow in tropical places around the world such as Egypt, the Americas, Africa, and India. The word is derived from the Arabic word qutun, an unusual term in medieval times. Cotton is also known as the “king of the fibres”.

Photo source: Pexels


There are many uses for this type of fabric. When hearing the word cotton, you might think “shirt” or “sock”. Might also have bed sheets, pillows and towels in mind. There is an absurd amount of uses of cotton that you can find but let’s take a look at a few more unusual ones.

Cotton dipped in alcohol can remove ink stains from your damaged clothing. You can also keep rabbits away from your garden bed by soaking cotton with white vinegar. They’re also a great way to remove water spots.


Silk, coming from the old English “silken” is a protein fibre with natural properties. Silk is made from a specific species of larvae that form their cocoons. Silk is also produced from a number of creatures such as fleas, flies, beetles, arachnids, midges, silverfish and more.

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Silk is a luxury that can be used for typically fancy clothing worn by women or men. They are also found in the interior design world, you’ll find curtains, pillows, sheets and other decorations. Silk is also known for blending in with other fabrics as silk is naturally strong.


The first hybrid fibre on the list. They”re are many types of fabrics, variants and combinations. Rayon is manufactured from silk, wool, cotton and linen. It’s known for being inexpensive but with the quality of the luxury fabric. This hybrid is also known as a semi-synthetic fibre.

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Like the previous fabrics, you can find rayon in your sheets or furniture decor at home. Scarves, ties, suits, lingerie and other items of clothing is made using this fabric. You may also find rayon in cords of road tyres or even in surgical bandages, similar to nylon.


Polyester is a straight-up man-made material which it’s often referred to as polyethylene terephthalate. This fibre is spun with other types of fabrics for example cotton. With this strong union, the hybrid can be wrinkle and tear-resistant and also reduces shrinking. Something of these properties has claimed to be superior to its natural counterparts.

Photo Source: Pexels


Polyester although man-made, ti’s also another versatile fabric on this list. From clothing to upholstery to even ropes, this synthetic is made for its durability. It can withstand a lot of movement and doesn’t wear down as easily as the rest. You can find uses for polyester in the industrial world. This includes filters, films, carpets, and even artery replacements.


One of the more durable types of fabrics, this material is made by tanning skin of rawhides. The common animal used is cattle but you can use buffalo and goat hides. To go even further, you can get leather from crocodiles and snakes. The most percentage that leather is made from is in fact cows. Although cows are the go-to choice, pigs are much denser.

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Whenever I hear the word “leather” an image of a wallet or jackets comes to mind. You also have class leather furniture, watches and other clothing.


Fibreglass is a product of reinforced plastics using glass fibre. The fibres may be arranged and flattened into a sheet or woven into a fabric. This happens to be cheaper and more flexible than carbon fibre.


Fibreglass has it’s many uses like the fibre previously mentioned. However, this is more on an industrial scale. Aviation, you will be able to find fibreglass for the crafts airframe constructions. Our homes contain the glass-reinforced fibres, namely found in our bathrooms. You can also find this in wind turbine, medical beds just about every building you step foot into.


The types of fabrics that are man-made are staggering, acrylic is one of them. This fabric is produced from a colourless yet flammable liquid derived from polypropylene. Making this a somewhat a relative to polyester. This material has its benefits, such as not being able to wrinkle, quick to dry, colourfast, easy to clean and a bunch of other plus points.

Photo Source: Pexels


Typically this fibre is used for clothing, bedding, furnishings, garden wear, and carpets. For something a little more different, it can also be used for the glass you see in large aquariums, even deep down in submarines.

You most likely won’t be using your fabrics for large scale industrial use but you have a better idea what to look out for, for your next project. Hopefully, we learned a little something about these types of fabrics.

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Natasha Lawless
natasha, author, design, surface

Hello, I’m Natasha, a surface & textile designer based in Lower Clapton, that reads, blogs and daydreams about the beautiful things in our world.

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