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Fibres - Lesson Summary

The basic necessities for human beings are food, shelter and clothing.
Let us discuss about clothes and why they are important. Clothes guard our body from external environment. They protect us from insect bite and they make us look good.
Depending on the climate of the place people wear different clothes. Clothes are made of different types of materials.
For example: Cotton sari is made of cotton, Leather jacket is made of leather, Sweater is made of wool, etc.

History of clothing
In the beginning of civilisation, people used bark, leaves and animal fur as clothes. When people settled down as farmers, they used woven vines and animal fleece as clothes. In the next stage, flax and cotton were woven into clothes. In those times, people just draped the fabric to cover themselves. People started wearing stitched clothes only after the needle was invented. Even today, in older cultures like India, you see people wearing unstitched garments like turbans, saris and dhotis.

Fibre and fabric
Fabrics are made up of strands called yarns, which are made from even thinner strands, called fibres.
fibres can be classified as natural fibres and synthetic fibres.

Natural fibres are obtained from natural sources, i.e. plants and animals.
Example: Cotton, jute, silk, wool, etc.

Synthetic fibres are man-made fibres and are not obtained from any plant and animal sources. Example: Nylon, Polyester and Acrylic.

Plant fibres: Fibres obtained from plant sources are called plant fibres.
Example: Cotton, Jute, coir, and linen.

Animal fibres: Fibres obtained from animal sources are called animal fibres.
Example: Wool and Silk

Cotton Fibres: Cotton fibre is obtained from cotton plants that grow in black soil in a warm climate. In India, cotton is grown in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.

The cotton plant bears fruits about the size of a lemon, called cotton bolls. The bolls are full of seeds and cotton fibre. They burst open when they are ripe. The cotton fibres are collected by hand from the ripe cotton bolls. This process is called picking. Next, the cotton fibres are separated from the seeds by combing them. This is known as ginning. Earlier, ginning was done by hand, but nowadays, a machine is used.

Jute Fibre: Jute fibre comes from jute plants, which are mainly grown in places that have high temperatures and plenty of rainfall. Jute is cultivated during the rainy season. In India, jute is cultivated in West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Tripura.

The jute plant is generally harvested when it is in the flowering stage. The stems of jute plants are soaked in water for a few days until they start rotting. Then the fibres are separated by hand from the rotting stems. Once the fibres have been obtained, they are made into yarn by twisting the strands together. This process of making yarn from fibre is called spinning.

Not just jute, even cotton, silk and other fibres are spun to convert them into yarn. Machines are used for spinning yarn on a large scale. Fabrics like khadi are made by spinning yarn on hand-operated devices like charkhas and taklis.

Conversion of Yarn to Fabric
For the conversion of yarn to fabric two main processes are used. They are weaving and knitting.

Weaving is the process of arranging two sets of yarns together perpendicular to each other to make a fabric. Fabrics are woven on looms. These looms may be operated by power or by hand.

Knitting is a process that makes use of a single yarn to make a piece of fabric. While knitting, a single yarn is used to make a piece of fabric. That is why, if you pull a single yarn from a torn woolen garment, it keeps unraveling.
Knitting can be done by hand or on machines. 

Other useful plant fibres

Coconut fibre can be woven into fabric called coir. Coir is too rough to be made into garments. It is mostly used to make doormats, carpets and other flooring material.

Silk cotton
Silk cotton is obtained from kapok tree. The fruits of this tree contain fibres. These fibres are light and fluffy.
Silk cotton is used commonly used as stuffing in pillows, sleeping bags and life jackets.

Another important plant fibre is hemp. Hemp fibre is obtained from the stems of hemp plant. It is mostly used to make ropes, carpets, clothes and papers and nets. 


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