There is a wide selection of natural or synthetic fibres available nowadays. Natural fibres are sourced from plants and animals and require manual separation and recombining. Synthetics are developed from chemicals such as petroleum scientifically and require heavy processing.
Depending on their use, they have positive and negative charcteristics, and that’s why blended fabrics were produced: a mixture of two or more fibres spun together is called a blend.
The use of blended fabrics with optimised characteristics have been spread throughout the world to cater to specific needs. For example, cotton is breathable, light, soft, and very comfortable to wear, but can wrinkle or shrink when washed. Polyester is strong, holds shape and colours well – however, it doesn’t really breathe and can be uncomfortable and „smelly” to wear.
What happens when polyester is blended with cotton? The fabric will have moderate absorbancy and almost nil in polyester. When blending wool fibres with polyester we would like to improve the texture, feel and appearance of materials. Viscose blended with cotton improves lusture and softness and also enhances appearance. Also, sometimes one of the important reasons for blending of fibres is to reduce the cost.
Interesting cross-dyed effects can be produced when fibers with different affinities to be dyed are mixed and dyed together. Other example of optimising characteristics is polyester blending with cotton to produce spun yarns to improve spinning, weaving and finishing efficiency.
The most popular blended fabrics are:
Elastane (spandex) and cotton: ideal for natural sport clothing as elastane is stretchy and durable while cotton lets your skin breathe and also controls odours.
Wool and polyester: great for winter coats and jerseys as the wool is warm and breathable (even when wet) and the polyester is strong and shape holding.
Linen and silk: linen creases easily while silk doesn’t – when blending them, a garment won’t crease as readily and will drape better.
Cotton, polyester, and viscose: it has the benefits of polyester/cotton but with the added silkiness and drape of the semi-synthetic viscose.
Terry cotton, terry wool, polyester viscose and of course polyester cotton are also among the most popular ones. Depending on the fibres (and the percentage of these fibres) used in different blends, numerous combinations are produced from common fibers.