Why Cellulose Fiber?
Made from plants, these fibers are primarily cellulose, a starchy carbohydrate. These fibers are typically made from either seed or bast (a fiber found in the stem of the plant). Cellulosic fibers are lightweight, reflect heat, and absorb moisture quickly. These properties make them perfect for garments worn in warmer climates. However, cellulosic fibers do wrinkle easily, tend to shrink, and are prone to mildew unless fully dry.
Types of Cellulose Fibers
Cotton – One of the most well-known natural fibers in the world, cotton has been in use since 5000 B.C.E. It is incredibly breathable and used for a variety of things ranging from denim to towels. The most popular types of cotton are Upland, Egyptian and Pima. Upland cotton represents 90% of the world’s cotton supply. Egyptian and Pima cotton make up the other 10% and are of higher quality than Upland. Because of their longer staple length, Egyptian and Pima are resistant to fraying, pilling, and wrinkling, not to mention softer.
Flax (Linen) – Made from the bast of a flax plant, linen has been in use since 8000 B.C.E. Linen is available in different weights while maintaining breathability and absorbency. Every wash makes linen softer despite its strength, but it does wrinkle very easily.
Hemp – A similar feel to linen, hemp is made from the cannabis plant and has been in use as long as flax. The material itself is incredibly versatile and easy to process. It is mildew and mold resistant which makes it perfect for making canvases and tapestries. It also doesn’t pull and is resistant to bleach.
Ramie – Also known as China grass or rhea, ramie is a woody fiber similar to linen. It comes from a shrub grown throughout Asia and southern Europe. Ramie is stiff, but very lustrous and can be heavily bleached. Its strength and coarseness allow it to take dyes very well.
Kapok – Extracted from the seedpods of the tree, kapok is bouncy fiber known for retaining its shape and being silkier than cotton. Kapok resists clumping like wool and remains lightweight, but is incredibly flammable due to its oil content.
Processed Cellulose Fibers – These fibers tend to be derived from the alteration or processing of other plant material then blended with another fiber. Examples include Ingeo Corn, Tencel, and bamboo.
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