Other Lessons in This Course
- Different Types of Fabric and Their Uses
- Types of Plastic
- Different Types of Fabric and Their Uses
- Differences Between Pill and No-Pill Fleece
- 50/50 vs. 100% Cotton T-Shirts
- What is Neoprene?
- Different Types of Lead
- BPA Promotional Products
- What is Proposition 65?
- Ounces in Garments
- Custom Koozie Materials
- Do Stress Balls Work?
Fabrics are woven into our everyday lives and are used to create a number of popular products. Each has different chemical properties and can be used for everything from raincoats to power belting. The most popular include:
The seven types of fabric include:
- • Polyester
- • Nylon
- • Polypropylene
- • Cotton
- • Denim
- • Fleece
- • Jute
- • Canvas
- • Leather
You don’t have to be a tailor or fashion designer to appreciate a good fabric. From fuzzy socks to the throw pillows on our couch, these materials are used to create just about everything. It’s no exception when it comes to your favorite promotional products. Some of the best, like tote bags and t-shirts, are made with a variety of fabrics.
What are the different types of fabric? How are they used? It’s time to learn more about these popular materials!
Guide to Different Fabric Materials
There are many different types of fabric, but we are going to focus on the ones that are often found in promotional products. These power players are used in everything from custom tote bags to promotional t-shirts.
The textile industry was forever changed when John Whinfield and James Dickson invented polyester in England. World War II made it difficult to get cotton, leading to this new material for clothes.
Wallace Carothers at DuPoint Chemical led a team of scientists in researching commercial applications for polymers. It took over five years for the end result, nylon, to become available to the public as stockings.
J. Paul Hogan and Robert L. Banks discovered polypropylene accidentally while attempting to convert propylene into gasoline. Today, this fabric is a crucial part of household goods, consumer packaging, and even medical and military technology.
This popular fabric has roots in ancient civilizations, but its origins are somewhat of a mystery. Archeologists found the oldest discovery of cotton in a Mexican cave, though cloth fragments have also been traced back to the Middle East.
People in Nimes, France tried to find a sturdy Italian fabric called surge and ended up creating “surge de nimes” or as it’s come to be known, “denim.” This fabric was extremely popular with miners as it was extremely durable in tough conditions.
A team of engineers at Malden Mills experimented with polyester yarn, creating a lighter fabric. The first fleece, called Synchilla, was used in pullovers and became a huge hit for family ski trips.
Known as the Golden fiber of Bangladesh, jute is a natural fiber obtained from the skin of a plant’s stem. This versatile material is widely used in textiles, packaging, construction, and agriculture.
Canvas has been around for centuries and was primarily used to create shelters and sails. The material is durable enough to be used in a wide range of industries.
This material has roots in the preservation of animal hides. Primitive humans used leather for clothing, sandals, buckets, bottles, military equipment, and shroud for burials.
Breakdown of Different Fabric Types
Do you confuse jute from canvas? How about polyester from polypropylene? There are many different fabrics out there, but we’re here to shine a light on the most popular. Take a look at the year invented, the uses, and the properties of each type of fabric.
Year Invented 1941
Primary Uses: activewear, raincoats, swimwear, ropes, sails, suits, Hoses, laundry bags, underwear pajamas, curtains, sheets, umbrellas, towels, rugs, power belting, lanyards, visors, hats
Properties: absorbs some water, more uv resistant, resistant to stretching and shrinking, doesn’t pill, mildew resistant, affordable, lightweight material, retains color, doesn’t crease
Year Invented 1935
Primary Uses: Stockings, parachutes, circuit boards cookware, backpacks, wedding gowns, bridal veils, athletic shoes, ponchos, umbrellas, camera cases, swimsuits, gloves, hats, luggage, bedspreads, combat uniforms
Properties: absorbs the most water, somewhat UV resistant, stretches without breaking, shrink resistant, mildew resistant
Year Invented 1954
Primary Uses: stress balls, car batteries, colanders, food storage containers, cutting boards, outdoor rugs, car parts, toys, carpeting, paper, loudspeakers, laboratory equipment, rope, housewares, condiment lids, shampoo bottles, tumblers, water bottles, tote bags, backpacks, cooler bags
Properties: does not absorb water, less uv resistant, moderately resistant to shrinking and stretching, mildew resistant, great insulator, doesn’t tear easily
Year Invented 800AD
Primary Uses: t-shirts, underwear, pajamas, towels, fishnets, coffee filters, book bindings, socks, bed sheets, coats, pillowcases, medical supplies, industrial thread, tarpaulins, hats, gloves, scarves
Properties: comfortable, good absorbency, retains colors, machine-washable, strong material resistant to breaking, easy to sew
Year Invented 1873
Primary Uses: jeans, overalls, bags, vests, jackets, curtains, seat covers, phone cases, hats, insulation, shoes
Properties: doesn’t tear easily, sturdy and durable, versatile, simple to use, stretches, retains colors, machine-washable
Year Invented 1979
Primary Uses: sweaters, sweat suits, hats, gloves, blankets, jackets, underwear, deep-sea diving suits, ear-warmers, scarves, pillows, bed sheets, socks
Properties: lightweight, warm, soft, weighs less than wool, flexible material, comfortable, resists soaps and detergents, but not bacteria
Year Invented 1856
Primary Uses: bags, wrapping bales, curtains, chair coverings, carpets, area rugs, linoleum backings, sacks, mats, prayer rugs, furniture
Properties: high tenacity, bulkiness, sound insulator, heat insulator, low thermal conductivity, strong and durable, bio-degradable, organic
Year Invented 3000 BC
Primary Uses: bags, paintings, canoes, trading cards, tents, tarpaulins, backpacks, martial arts uniforms, sails, canopies, auto covers, trampolines
Properties: heavy, resistant to tearing, water absorbent, susceptible to mildew and mold, flammable, wrinkles easily, lightweight, retains color
Year Invented 1858
Primary Uses: jackets, vests, car seats, couches, chairs, furniture, upholstery, baseball gloves, book bindings, body armor, saddles, footwear, watches, bags, luggage, holsters, belts
Properties: high tensile strength, resistant to tearing and stretching, doesn’t get damaged easily, heavy and durable, good heat insulator, water resistant, warm, flexible; molded into new shapes, resistant to flames, mildew resistant
|Material||Year Invented||Primary Uses||Properties|
Fabric Comparisons in Promotional Products
Of course, the best way to understand your fabrics is by seeing them in action. Let’s take a look at the materials as they’re used in custom tote bags, one of the most popular promos on the planet!
These totes are durable and water resistant, making them great choices for beach trips or vacations. Plus, since they won’t crease, they’re easy to store without destroying the fabric.
Pantyhose aren’t the only products that benefit from nylon. Tote bags made from this fabric stretch without breaking and won’t shrink. You can throw them right into the dryer without worrying about your bag being the size of a pea.
You don’t have to worry about storing too much in a polypropylene tote bag. This material is not only durable, but extremely affordable and can hold even an adult human without tearing!
Busy parents and professionals should turn to cotton tote bags to get through the day. These bags are machine-washable and made from a strong material that’s resistant to breaking!
If you want your bags to have a fashionable flair, you can’t go wrong with classic denim. Pass these out when you just want to do a little turn on the catwalk.
This lightweight material is perfect for quick trips to the grocery store. Carry your wallet, phone, car keys, and a few other small items in comfortable fleece bags.
Jute tote bags are strong enough to carry groceries and are made from completely organic materials. Trendy and eco-friendly, these are great giveaways for farmers markets or green causes.
This fabric is great at retaining bright, bold colors. If you want trade show giveaways in your corporate colors, you can’t go wrong with canvas tote bags!
Bring out the leather when you want to increase your cool factor. This material is a warm weather favorite since it’s a good insulator and doesn’t damage easily.
Glossary of Fabric Terms
Unless you’re a tailor or fabric expert , you probably don’t know a natural fiber from a hole in the ground. Luckily, we’re here to eliminate confusion and break down the common terms used in the fabric world.
Acetate – A synthetic fiber used in luxurious fabrics like silk, satin, and taffeta
Acrylic – Another name for synthetic fibers derived from the chemical polyacrylonitrile; used as a substitute for wool
Denier – A unit of weight indicating the density of a specific fabric. The lower the number, the more lightweight the fabric.
GSM – Short for “grams per square meter,” this refers to a fabric’s weight is a good measure of density; the higher the GSM the more resistant the fabric is to tearing.
Loom – A hand-operated or electrical device for weaving fabrics; the art or process of weaving.
Natural Fiber – Any textile fiber made from an animal, plant, or vegetable source.
Pill – A fuzzy ball caused by rolling up fabrics; this is commonly found in fleece.
Polymer – A compound of high molecular weight derived from smaller molecules; found in the chemical makeup of fabric.
Rayon – The generic name for a cellulose-based fiber; Rayon is similar to cotton or linen.
Screen Printing – A printing process which uses a screen to apply a design or pattern to fabric.
Selvage – The edge of woven fabric finished in a way that prevents raveling.
Thread Count – Represented by a “T,” the thread count measures the amount of warp and weft thread per square inch. This is a good indicator of a fabric’s thickness and strength.
Twill – A fabric that shows a distinct diagonal stripe; this design is often found in denim.
Warp & Weft (Fill) – Refers to the threads that make up a loomed or woven fabric; warp threads run parallel to the edge, while weft run side to side.
Woven – Fabric with yarns placed at right angles; threads are woven over and under each other. Nonwoven fabrics are usually more affordable because they are faster to manufacture.
Why Are Fabrics Important?
Back in the day, our primitive ancestors simply used the land around them to create clothing and shelters. Today, we rely on fabric to progress forward. We put on suits for important meetings, wipe the sweat from our faces with towels after building a new invention, and go to sleep in warm beds after a long day.
The Bottom Line
From the time we wake up to when we go to bed, we’re interacting with many different fabrics. You don’t have to be into cross-stitching to appreciate a good piece of fabric. These materials make up many of our daily essentials from t-shirts to towels and everything in between. Some people even go as far as to describe life as the fabric of society or material world. It just goes to show we are all woven together like the best canvas bag!
Alyssa is a super cool Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She’s a fan of diving into the history of some of the earliest promos on the planet. If you need her, you’ll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.
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