Fibres can be teamed together in fabrics either in combination or blend.
Combination fabrics may be either knitted or woven and have the following characteristics:
- different fibres in the warp and filling (e.g. a cotton warp and a rayon filling)
- ends of two or more fibres in the warp and/or filling
- combination yarns
- both filament yarn and staple/spun yarn of the same or different fibres
- filament yarns of two or more generic fibre types
Blends (also called intimate blends) are the result of mixing fibres together, before or as a yarn/spun. This is usually done only with staple fibres, although intimate blends of filaments have been produced.
Blending is the act of combining of different fibres together intimately to achieve a desired product characteristic. Blends can influence the fabric’s colouring, strength, softness, absorbency, ease of washing, resistance to wrinkling, ease of spinning, cost, etc.
So why are fibres blended? Below are the reasons for blending fibres:
Blends are sometimes used because more economical fabrics can be produced by mixing highly desirable but expensive fibres with lower cost ones, while retaining the good properties of the more costly type.
For example, the price of cotton fibre is comparatively higher than polyester. Hence, if cotton fibre is blended with polyester, then the ultimate cost of the yarns will be lower.
However, sometimes blending of fibre is done to increase the cost of the finished product. For example, if a low portion of valuable silk fibre is blended with cotton, the fabric value will be increased.
Blending is used to improve fibre properties, including but not limited to abrasion resistance, fibre strength, absorbency, comfort, resistance to wrinkling, pilling, static and the wickability.
Blending is also used to produce multi-coloured fabrics. Multi-coloured fabrics can be produced by blending different coloured fibres and yarn.
Wear and Care
The disadvantages or weaknesses in one fibre can be reduced by pairing it with another fibre through blending. For example, blending of 10% nylon with wool will greatly increase the wear and lifespan of the resultant fabric.
Now, we get to this point and ask, are polyester and cotton blended shirts of inferior quality?
Blended dress shirts are often top rated for their longevity and wrinkle resistance qualities.
Although cotton is absorbent and breathable, making it a comfortable fibre to wear, it generally is more prone to wrinkling.
Therefore, blending polyester with cotton will provide high absorbency and breathability, yet having high wrinkle resistance and longevity.