Textile manufacturing is a major industry and it is based on the conversion of fiber into yarn and yarn into fabric. Fabric is probably one of the most essential needs of humans, and it is just sheer beauty in how we convert fiber to fabric. The world consumes about 200 billion new t-shirts every year. Most of the raw material for silk, cotton, or wool essentially comes from either plants or animals, and it is the human mind’s genius to be able to turn it into fine cloth.
In the olden days in India, once the cotton is collected and made into a ball, the cotton is converted into a thread by spinning on a wheel called charkha.
Once you have the bundle of thread (also called as yarn), you can weave a cloth piece from it using the process called weaving by making horizontal and vertical lines. The yarn is dyed with different colors.
In the olden days, the weaving process used to happen on a traditional hand-weaver or on a basic weaving loom as shown below.
There are different styles of weaving and plain weave, satin weave, and twill weave are the most common weaves seen across the world. Most cotton and denim trousers have a twill weave observed by single diagonal lines on the trouser.
Another alternate way of making cloth from thread (yarn) is the process called knitting. Unlike weaving which has two threads (yarns) of warp and weft, knitting has only one thread that is used throughout in loops. Therefore, if a thread comes out of your knitted sweater and you pull that thread the entire sweater would shrink and come out into a thread. Whereas if a thread comes out from your woven shirt, only the particular warp thread just comes out.
Today, both these processes of weaving and knitting are done in modern machines churning out tonnes of output per hour.
Video of the weaving machine making a Jacquard weave fabric:
Video of a knitting machine making knitted fabric from yarns:
The thread from the yarn flows through the metal pipes and get fed to the guns on the top (the feeding guns arranged in a circular fashion).
Preparation of polyester thread:
Just as in the previous post on bean-bags, polyester beads are bought by companies from sources such as Reliance and those beads are heated to make liquid like thread which is cooled and made into thread. A video of the same happening is shown below and the final thread (polyester yarn) is stored in large 3-tonne bundles.
Most of these machines give output measured in kilograms or meters of fabric per hour. Therefore, the thicker the yarn (thread) the higher the output per hour and the thinner the yarn the lower the output per hour. However, thicker threads will have fewer threads per square inch and therefore lower quality. Whereas thinner yarns (threads) are finer and richer and do not give the look of the square between a warp and weft when seen closer. Finer yarns like shirts have almost 2000 threads per quare inch (1000 warp threads and 1000 weft threads) enabling a fine quality look and strength of the shirt. Other fabrics such as bed sheets and mattress fabrics have thread counts of 200 to 400. The higher the thread count per square inch (the finer the yarn) and the lower the output per hour and hence it is more expensive. Thread count is one great way to measure the quality of any fabric.
Hope this post provided some useful information on fabric manufacturing.