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Although there are many sewers and costume creators around the world, not many people realize how their clothes are created. It all stems from the fabric and stitches that make up these garments. Even more so, there is an intricate process behind fabric manufacturing. Anyone interested in learning how to make fabric should check out this guide on the fabric manufacturing process. You’ll see how raw materials are woven or knitted into the finished, colored goods used today.
Whether it’s a synthetic fabric, cotton-based fabric, or another type of natural fabric, all fabric manufacturing begins with raw materials. These materials are cultivated and harvested from various sources, be it cotton, wool, leather, flax, hemp, or silk. From here, the raw materials are spun into yarn and thread. While done by hand in the past, spinning wheels account for this process today. As the spinning wheels move, the fibers collect on a bobbin, which connects to another machine for the fibers to continue along their journey.
Once spun into threads, the fabric fibers now become usable yarn. Each individual thread weaves together to form a fabric. Weaving occurs on a loom, which is a machine that holds the threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the threads. Back and forth motions interlace the yarn, and rapier-type weaving machines lift the thread then carry it to another loom machine that pulls it across. These machines ensure high speeds and reliability with great versatility, depending on the fabric you weave.
Knitted fabrics have their own fabric manufacturing process different from weaving. Knitting requires a series of needles that interlock loops of yarn via lengthwise rows called wales and courses. Most knitted fabrics use a circular machine with fixed needles on a rotating cylinder. As this cylinder turns, the needles form stitches to produce a tubular fabric ranging from 9” to 60” in diameter. Some knitting machines might use over thousands of needles to produce multiple cones of yarn at once. Another type of knitting machine, flat knitting machines, can make millions of stitches a minute that drop or add stitches automatically to conform to different shapes.
Finally, the knitted or woven yarn goes through a finishing process. Often, these fabrics are filled with impurities and debris that must be cleaned off. Bleach purifies the base color, while various chemicals and cleaners remove leftover oils, wax, and other matter. Finished fabrics also go through a mercerization process, which increases the pore size on the fabric threads to make it easier to dye. The mercerization process is a lye solution that allows bright or bold colors on the fabric. Afterward, the fabrics are stretched and pulled to accept more color. Then, it’s dried and prepared for shipment.
Now that you know the basic steps behind fabric manufacturing be sure to check out our selection of apparel fabrics at Fabric Wholesale Direct. We carry various cotton, silk, nylon, linen, sheer, and printed cotton fabrics, all at a reasonable price point. Whatever garment you create, be sure to use the best quality fabric at your convenience.