Fabric texture is the way a fabric surface looks and feels. This tactile aspect of a fabric is a very important element in fashion designing.
The fabric texture can greatly enhance the perception of the quality of anything you make with that fabric. Emotions are evoked with texture, this has been scientifically proved. Texture adds dimension to the work; it communicates what you cannot say aloud. It also adds a unique character to your work. So finding the right texture for your projects assumes great importance.
But it is not difficult to find the exact texture you have in mind. The fabric world is full of textured fabrics – there are all kinds of textures; some are just more textured than others. Prepared to be drowned.
1 Pre-pleated fabric
This is a fabric which is pre-pleated with chemicals and heat. The pleats may be made randomly or at regular intervals.
The pleats are made with the help of chemical application in conjugation with heat and pressure in cotton fabrics and in polyester by heat and pressure alone. Hand pleating, machine pleating and form/ paper pleating are different methods used in pleating fabric. Special pleating paper is used to emboss the pleating pattern on the fabric by using heat and pressure. Silk, chiffon etc are available as pleated fabrics and they add great texture as well as volume to the finished garment.
2 Shirred or smocked fabrics
These refer to fabrics with special texture with swirls, pinwheel patterns etc made as a result of being made/stitched with elastic thread. Spandex blended yarns are used in the fabric which contracts resulting in the fabric crinkling.
There may be gathers, swirls, pinwheel shapes puckers etc on the surface due to this particular type of stitching. Smocking creates small pleats on fabric and embroidery stitches are made on top to hold the pleats in place and for embellishment. Check out more on smocking here.
3 Ribbed weave fabrics
Corduroy is a mildly textured fabric with a raised cut pile and variation in the wales creating varying textures on the surface. The surface has a clear ribbed /cord effect.
Faille is a ribbed weave fabric with large flattened ribs with a crisp hand. Faille has pronounced ribs on the surface. The cross grain ribs are very prominent in this somewhat lustrous fabric. Other fabrics like Bengaline, Ottoman, Grosgrain, Barathea, Pique are all fabrics with varying ribbed effect on the surface
Ribbed satin is made by weaving ribbed fibers in a satin weave. There are alternating rib and satin stripes which are very attractive. Crepe de chine has a fine ribbed surface which is lustrous and beautiful.
When the weave is ribbed and the color is golden it is something else.
4 Pre-Quilted fabrics
Quilting involves stitching together two fabrics with a padding or batting kept sandwiched inside the outer fabrics. Prequilted fabrics have all the padded qualities of quilting and are favorites for making jackets and bags.
Crepe fabrics have texture but not all crepe fabrics have pronounced texture. Canton crepe has a heavily textured surface with a crosswise rib visible on its surface. Satin crepe has a beautiful momie crepe texture on the back which can be used as the face of the fabric if you want your garment to have this texture. Moroccan crepes have a wavy weave.
Crinkle crepes are the best with texture with alternatively plain and crepe surface. Most wool crepes have a bumpy surface texture because of twisted crepe yarns used in weaving the fabric- moss crêpe double weave is a suiting crepe with an interesting texture.
Plisse is a lightweight crepe fabric with a noticeably puckered appearance. The surface has this texture as a result of chemical treatment done on it. The chemical treatment shrinks portions of the fabric resulting in the puckered look.
6 Hammered Satin
This is a type of satin crepe embossed to give the surface a unique pebbly surface texture reminiscent of hammered metal. It is equally used as a dress fabric and as upholstery material.
7 Net fabrics
Net is an open-weave sheer fabric made with yarns that are knitted, knotted, or twisted together to provide texture with square hexagonal or octagonal meshes. A fishnet is made by knotting meshes similar to a fisherman’s knot.
Point d’esprit is a special netting with larger flecks of texture attached to the netting surface. Embroidery done on net creates even more texture.
There are many man-made or machine made laces with beautiful textures. Repausse lace has an embossed surface with raised patterns. More on different types of Lace fabric here.
9 Fur type pile fabric / fake fur
These fabrics look like they are made from the fur of animals like leopard, lamb etc. These fabrics have a very dense piled surface texture at a very low cost to animal lives and budget . They usually have a knit background. Read more on fake fur here.
These specialty fabrics ( wool or cotton) have a soft irregular surface texture with small rounded curled tufts. The long floated yarns are treated by a chincilla machine to create this nap
11 Embroidered fabric
Embroidery is added on tightly woven non textured fabrics. Eyelet fabric (Broderie Anglaise) is such an embroidered fabric with all over embroidery done. Almost all kinds of fabrics like net, velvet, chiffon are embroidered this way. More on machine embroidery here.
12 Waffle cloth
This has a raised square or diamond shaped pattern (honeycomb) created by floating warp and filling yarns that form ridges along the line of the floats
13 Metalesse Fabrics (Double Knit fabrics)
This is a fabric with a puckered surface which looks like it is padded or quilted with textured designs on the surface (metalesse effect). The soft, puffy fabric is made as a double cloth making it look like it is padded with a batting inside. It is used mostly as a suiting fabric or for bedding. The beautiful raised surface texture reveals puckered patterns such as florals, geometrics, and medallions.
Fabric made from fine, soft curly or wavy hair forming the coat of a sheep, goat, or similar animals – the hair is converted to woolen fibers which are then woven or knitted into fabrics with beautiful textures – from fuzzy to chunky to soft as silk.
Felt is a kind of dense and highly textured cloth made by rolling and pressing wool / any other natural fiber by applying moisture or heat and lots of pressure
16 Leno weave fabrics
A leno weave always creates little holes in the fabric. Mesh Fabrics made in this weave are used for commercial uses like in the medical industry. Decorative patterns are woven on gauze ground fabric with lappet weaving.
This is a heavyweight rough textured fabric with mixed coloured effect. The weave of the fabric ( twill/ herringbone) also creates a textured look. Some tweeds have colorful slubs on them
18 Velvet, Velour and Plush
Velour refers to knit fabrics with a cut pile. Velvet is a woven fabric with the same construction. Both have crushed fabrics with a crinkled crushed finish.Crushed velvet has variations in colour due to the difference in light reflection that brings it more texture. Burntout velour or velvet has been printed with acid so that the base fabric is visible in selective areas.
19 Sweater Knits
These sweater knits use a bulky yarn which makes it very textured. Special types of stitching patterns are used in these knits for added texture.
This fabric has a luxurious, velveteen-like bulky cut pile texture. It is a very popularly used fabric in interior design. Make a similar chenille-look-alike fabric at home – checkout this post- stitch and slash method for more details
Terry cloth is a bulky fabric with loops all over the fabric surface . Usually, the loop is on both sides though there are terry clothes with loops only one side
22 Crinkle finished cotton
This crinkled surface is a result of heat and chemicals applied to the fabric while it is compressed. When the fabric is released the crinkle is formed which is almost permanent. This almost like pleating.
Seersucker fabric is a cotton fabric that has a pronounced puckered appearance. This fabric is usually has a striped/ chequered pattern and has somewhat medium weight and is used to make pants and blazers and specifically to make summer clothes. Plisse is a similar fabric.
23 Jacquard woven fabrics
Jacquard fabric has intricately variegated or raised pattern on the fabric Brocade, a variety of jacquard is a rich woven fabric with a raised pattern, typically of solid or multi-colored silk threads ( some may have gold or silver thread ).
24 Laminated fabric to look like leather
In this, a sheet of vinyl film is adhered to a woven or knitted fabric to give the appearance of leather. The advantage is that it is inexpensive than leather .
25 Ribbon knit
This is a knit fabric with a beautiful texture with loops made of ribbon or yarn – narrow acetate or rayon ribbon is used instead of spun yarn to make the fabric . A cotton knit fabric is the background over which this effect is made.
26 Slubbed silk
Tussah silk/ silk shantung is a wild silk fabric made of coarse uneven silk filaments of uncultivated silk worms. Its irregular surface due to the irregular slubbed yarns used in the construction. The heavy rough yarns will run crosswise in the fabric forming a beautifully rough matte surface texture.
Spun silk shantung has very irregular slubs. Waste silk is a rough textured silk produced from short filaments from damaged cocoons.
27 Fabrics with flocked designs
In flocked fabrics the design is printed then an adhesive binder is applied on the design. Then tiny bits of cotton rayon or nylon flocks or glitter are blown into the adhesive surface of the fabric – this creates a raised design on the fabric . Instead of just adhering to the surface sometimes the flock is pulled through the fabric. The base fabric may be all kinds including velvet, voile etc.
28 Boucle fabrics
Boucle fabrics refer to all fabrics with small spaced loops on the fabric surface. They are made of chunky and heavy natural or synthetic fibers or a blend. Boucle knit has a looped texture with different colored fibers.
29 Huckaback fabrics
This is a somewhat coarse cotton/linen fabric with a small distinctive huckaback weave texture made in a dobby weave. It is a self-patterning weave. It is a fabric often used in embroidery and also as towels because of its absorbent quality (huckaback weaving)
30 Metallic fabric
These are fabrics which use metallic yarns in its construction. Metallic fibers are woven, braided, or knitted into fabrics that have a metallic shine. Lame fabric is an example. They are shimmery, iridescent and glamorous and as textured as you want it.
You can make beautiful texture on fabric in many many different ways – here is a post explaining some 50 different ways to add texture to fabric.
How to wash and care for textured fabrics
To maintain the surface texture of these fabrics they should be handled with care and washed and dried without too much agitation. Use mild liquid detergent and cold water to wash and ensure gentle handling. No wringing or twisting the fabrics to avoid texture damage.
Lay flat to air dry rather than drying in the machine. Ironing is another potential danger area where you may lose all the texture. Some of the fabrics may not need any ironing – the texture will take care of the wrinkles. For others, you can iron from the back, if the fabric care label permits.
Reference: THE FASHION DESIGNER’S TEXTILE DIRECTORY – GAIL BAUGH