What Are Textiles?

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do you know what a textile is? Chances are pretty good you either used one today, sat on one, or at the minimum saw one. Find out what a textile is, examples of what one can be made of, and how.

What Is A Textile?

When you got up this morning, you likely threw off the bed covers. Then, you went into the bathroom where you stepped on a rug. After leaving the bathroom you probably put on some clothing. Then, you sat down at a table that may have had a tablecloth on it. From there, you went to your car and sat down on a car seat. You came in to work and sat on a padded chair.

Those covers, rugs, clothes, tablecloths, car seat upholstery, and chair upholstery, were all example of textiles. A textile is a material made of natural or synthetic fibers.

Fibers Used In Textiles

The fibers that can be used to make a textile are vast nowadays. Let's go over some examples of them. Some of these fibers are plant based. They include:

  • Flax
  • Hemp
  • Sisal
  • Jute
  • Nettle
  • Cotton

People also use animal fibers that to make textiles. These are mainly limited to:

  • Wool
  • Silk

This painting shows Chinese women of the 12th century inspecting a silk-based textile.

And with the advent of modern technology, there are many synthetic fibers that have been used to make textiles, including:

  • Nylon
  • Rayon
  • Kevlar
  • Polyester
  • Spandex
  • Acrylic

Manufacturing Fibers

Like there are many different fibers that can be used to make textiles, there are many ways by which these textiles can be made. They can be made by spinning, a process that involves winding fibers together to make a string or yarn. You can also create textiles through weaving, or interlacing fibers with one another to make a mesh. Furthermore, textiles can be manufactured through felting. Felting is the process of using any combination of pressure, heat, moisture, and movement to create a mat or sheet of fibers. If it's hard to imagine what that really means, then think of this. You know that people with long hair who neglect to brush it will develop tangles that bunch up together, flatten, and then become matted, right? Well, that is sort of what the process of felting does to actual fibers, it creates a mat of sorts from the fibers.


Once a textile is made, its uses thereafter are almost limitless. It just depend on how it's made and what it's made of. Textiles are used in just about everything you see every day.

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