The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about the type of fabric. Textile is also a jargon term used by naturists or nudists to describe a person who wears clothes, and also the property that nudity is not allowed, e.g. in "textile beach", "textile campsite", etc.

A textile is any kind of woven, knitted, knotted (as in macrame) or tufted cloth, or a non-woven fabric (a cloth made of fibers that have been bonded into a fabric, e.g. felt).

Textile also refers to the yarns, threads and wools that can be spun, woven, tufted, tied and otherwise used to manufacture cloth. The production of textiles is an ancient art, whose speed and scale of production has been altered almost beyond recognition by mass-production and the introduction of modern manufacturing techniques. An ancient Roman weaver would have no problem recognizing a plain weave, twill or satin.

Many textiles have been in use for millennia, while others use artificial fibers and are recent inventions. The range of fibers has increased in the last 100 years. The first synthetics were made in the 1920s and 1930s.


Sources and types

Textiles can be made from a variety of materials. The following is a partial list of the materials that can be used to make textiles.

Animal origin


  • Bark cloth has various uses, and is used in sheets.
  • Coir: the fibre from coconuts.
  • Cotton
  • Grass, rush and straw
  • Hemp (mostly used in rope making)
  • Jute
  • Kapok
  • Linen, made from flax
  • Nettle: processed in a similar manner to flax.
  • Ramie
  • Seaweed: a water soluble fibre (alginate) is produced. This is used as a holding fibre in the production of certain textiles: when the cloth is finished the alginate is dissolved, leaving an open area.
  • Sisal

Derived from plant products


  • Asbestos: now has very limited uses.
  • Glass fibres can be used in the manufacture of textiles for insulation and other purposes.
  • Metal fibre , metal wire and metal foil have some uses in textiles, either on their own or with other materials (see, for example, goldwork embroidery).


Production methods

  • Braiding/Plaiting
  • Crochet – usually by hand.
  • Embroidery – threads which are added to the surface of a finished textile.
  • Felt – fibres are matted together to produce a cloth.
  • Knitting – by hand or on knitting machines .
  • Knotting, including macrame: used in making nets.
  • Lace – again both hand made and machine made.
  • Pile fabrics – carpets and some rugs
  • Velvet, velveteen , plush fabrics and similar have a secondary set of yarns which provide a pile.
  • Weaving – the cloth is prepared on a loom, of which there are a number of types. Some weaving is still done by hand, but the vast majority is mechanised.


  • Carding
  • Bleaching – where the natural or original colour of the textile is removed with bleach.
  • Dyeing – adding colour to textiles: there is a vast range of dyes, natural and synthetic, some of which require mordants.
  • Waterproofing and other finishings.
  • Starching


Textiles have been used in almost every possible context where their properties are useful. In cleaning

See also

External links

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