- Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber for clothing. Shiny Cotton is a more processed cotton that looks like satin. Common cotton fabrics are denim,
chambray, seersucker, and twill. Other than t-shirts, most cotton clothing is blended with rayon or synthetic fiber, like polyester. Cotton fabrics are machine washable, prone to wrinkling. Cotton tends to shrink a bit from washing, and heat from the washer and/or dryer will also cause additional shrinking.
- Polyester is a synthetic fabric with greater wrinkle resistance, more durability, and brighter colors than cotton. Polyester is machine washable, easy to get stains out, and durable. Poly blends with cotton for a best of both worlds scenario.
- Rayon goes by many names, such as viscose rayon, modal, tencel. It is semi-synthetic, meaning that it started from various sources of wood, plant, and natural fibers then heavily processed during the manufacturing process. Rayon holds color beautifully and is ideal for warm climates as it naturally keeps you cool. Clothing made with 50% rayon or more should be dry-cleaned, but can be spot treated.
- Linen is made from the spun fibers of the stem of the flax plant, also known as linseed. It is a strong, flexible natural fiber that is stronger than cotton. Lace, yarn, robe, books, tea bags and many currency banknotes are made from linen due to the strength of the fiber. Damasks and canvas are the heavier weight flax-linen fabrics, but could be made from silk, cotton, or synthetic to check the fabric content. Linen is a great natural fiber for heat or cold, but tends to wrinkle easily.
- Silk is a natural fiber produced from silkworms originally produced for Chinese Kings, and is still considered a luxury item. Silk is very delicate and is prone to damage when wet or left in direct sunlight. Even dry-cleaning can shrink silk chiffon, so delicate hand washing really is best. Silk and static cling go hand in hand, try a few drops of fabric softener when hand washing or lightly spray diluted fabric softener on the inside of silk dresses & skirts.
- Wool is textile fiber from animals, specifically sheep. Also in this family is cashmere and mohair from goats, and angora from rabbits. Wool is not hair or fur, but rather staples which is a fancy way to describe the way sheep, camels, goats, and rabbits hair clumps. Wool is resistant to static electricity, easily absorbs water, and is a great insulator (used to keep you warm, and to keep the heat out).
- Alpaca is the hypoallergenic hair or fleece fibers from the small llama-like
creature the Alpaca, closely related to a camel. The hair is sheered annually, and the animal is not hurt during the process. The hair is spun into yarn, thread and fabric that is lighter-weight than wool, but certainly less common and usually more expensive.
- Other natural fibers include Bamboo (made from the tall bamboo plant), beech (from the beech tree), hemp fiber (from the cannabis plant). When specifically labeled as the natural fiber it retains all of the naturally cooling properties during the manufacturing process. For example, both modal rayon and beech fabrics start from the Beech tree, then modal undergoes chemical processing. The modal rayon will feel smooth almost slippery compared to the natural chemical-free beech fiber.