Fiber Types

Here you will find information on natural and manmade fibers, and details on fiber blends and combinations.

Fiber Blends and Combinations

Fiber blends and combinations are those fabrics in which two or more textile fibers are used. The fibers can be blended or combined in various yarn and fabric structures.

Blended fabrics are woven or knitted from yarns which have been made by blending two or more fibers together before they are spun into yarn.

Combination fabrics are those which contain two or more different types of fibers; the warp or filling yarns may be a blended fiber and the yarn in the other direction may be a single fiber. Union fabrics have warp yarns made of one fiber and filling yarns made of another.

By making use of these two techniques, textile engineers can now build into fabrics desirable characteristics that cannot be achieved through the use of only one fiber.

In blends the addition of natural fibers will:

  • Increase moisture absorbency
  • Provide greater comfort
  • Reduce static electricity
  • Improve aesthetic appeal

In blends the addition of synthetic fibers will:

  • Improve strength
  • Improve wash and wear characteristics
  • Minimize shrinking or stretching
  • Improve abrasion resistance
  • Improve wrinkle resistance and recovery
  • Improve pleat and crease retention
  • Add luster or sheen

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers are those found in nature and can be categorized by the source of their origin.

Plant sources


  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Ramie


  • Strong
  • Absorbent
  • Poor wrinkle resistance and elasticity
  • Affected by mildew and sunlight
  • Shrinks unless treated

Animal sources


  • Silk
  • Wool


  • Absorbent
  • Elastic
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Attacked by insects
  • Damaged by alkaline soaps and high temperatures
  • Affected by sunlight

Manmade Fibers

Cellulosic sources


  • Rayon
  • Acetate
  • Triacetate


  • Luxurious texture and appearance
  • Good drapeability
  • High absorbency for rayon (less for acetate, much less for triacetate)
  • Takes dye well
  • Costs less than other man-mades

Chemical sources


  • Acrylic
  • Modacrylic
  • Nylon
  • Olefin
  • Polyester
  • Rubber
  • Spandex


  • Extremely wrinkle resistant
  • Dries quickly
  • Resists abrasion, dirt, mildew and mold
  • Very heat sensitive
  • Poor moisture absorbency

Mineral sources


  • Glass
  • Metallic


  • Resists moths, mildew, and weather
  • Non-absorbent