Fashion and home interior designers are now promoting the use of natural fabrics, as as a way of weaning people away from chemical-based cloth materials. Still it’s hard to overlook the fact that man-made fabrics like polyester and rayon have made improvements that made textiles amore versatile, functional and easier to use. Besides, one of the reasons why innovators developed synthetic textiles is to address the limitations of fabrics woven with 100% natural fibers, which can hamper one’s lifestyle.
In all the years in between the development of fabrics and their usages, cloth materials also became a reflection of different cultures, while the designs and quality of fabrics also served as status symbols.
Actually, there are only four cloth materials that possess the distinction of being organic or natural fabrics, which denotes that the rest are synthetically created or a mix of natural and synthetic fibers.
What are the Four Natural Fabrics?
Silk is the oldest natural fabric, to which production date as far back 2500 BC but not with the use of plant fibers. Silk fibers are actually derived from the protein fibers used by worms in making their cocoons. Yet the best silk fabrics are native to China and Japan as they are sourced from the Mulberry worms of the Mulberry trees.
The silk proteins produced by these worms gave silk cloths not only the finest texture but also the most impressive shine in creating the best in natural color reflections. Up to the present, Chinese and Japanese silk still count as the most luxurious and expensive fabrics.
The popularity of silk had spread far and wide, via the legendary silk-route trade one of the emperors of the Han Dynasty, had created in as early as 114 BC.
The ancient Egyptians were the firsts to devise methods of spinning wild flax in extracting fibers used in producing the cloth we all know as linen. First produced in 5000 BC, linen had many uses aside from creating garments worn by living Pharaohs, as they were also used as bandages in mummifying the deceased Egyptian royalties. There is also evidence that ancient Egyptian palaces used linens as curtains as a better alternative to using animal hides for protection and privacy.
Wool is another cloth material that does not make use of plant fibers but only gained popularity as clothing material after 5000 BC. While European herded sheep in as early as 10,000 B.S. wool fiber still lacked the good qualities to make it suitable for textile-making purposes. However, throughout the years when improvements in breeding techniques were introduced, so did the quality of the wool fibers covering the sheep breeds. To date there are about 200 types of wool fabrics available in Europe, owing to the different breeds of sheep being herded in different regions.
Cotton is also one of the natural fabrics used by ancient Egyptian and Chinese fabric makers. However, it was only in 5000 BC that massive fields in China and India were used to grow the sturdy cotton, along with the invention of large cotton rolling machines used for cotton fiber extraction. The age of industrialization in the 1800s came up with huge cotton looms that paved the way for the mass production of cotton textiles.
As curtain materials, the styles and kind of fabric used as window treatments also became a status symbol. In the olden days, wealthy homeowners preferred the heavy, layered styles that combine the use of any of the four natural organic fabrics.Yet today, there are a broad selection of fabrics to choose from in creating a comfortable and stylish home environment.
Choosing however, should take into consideration the furniture being showcased in a living space. At Englanderline (englanderline.com), choosing fabrics for one’s home is not so much about the latest trend but more on finding the right kind of fabric; and of customising the window treatments based on how you want to style your home environment.