Today, we want to talk about fabric making. It is highly fascinating topic since the fabrics come as close to us as on our skin. Yet, it is not commonly discussed. Moreover, it is not a trouble-free topic since in fabric making lots of chemicals are involved. We will present some results of a Swedish study about chemical use in this post.
Fabric making starts with fibres. There are natural and man-made fibres. The journey of the natural materials starts in a farm. Man-made fibres are divided in two: synthetic and semi-synthetic fibres. Synthetic fabrics are purely oil-based materials and thus plastic. Semi-synthetic fibres are made from cellulose and primarily from wood pulp.
Semi- synthetic fibres
How do the fibres turn to fabrics?
Firstly, the fibres are collected and separated. Secondly, they are spun to yarns. Thirdly, the fabric is knitted. It requires lots of resources and labour work to turn the fibres into fabrics. Quality fabric is a result of right fibres and correctly spun yarns.
Chemical use in fabric making
During the different treatments, the chemical use is problematic. Fabric dyes can include natural or synthetic chemicals. Fabric finishing treatments are done to improve or add some qualities to the materials such as water proof, softness or anti bacterial features.
According to the Swedish study (Kemi4/14) there are 2450 chemicals used in the textile industry. 368 of these chemicals are harmful to health or environment. In Europe, there are around 1900 chemicals used in the textile industry. 60 of them are dangerous to environment. The use of the worse chemicals that are known to be harmful to health or environment are restricted. For example nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) and PFOS are forbidden inside European Union. NPE distracts hormone balance and PFOS are significantly risky for the health of human beings. The rest of the dangerous chemicals are constantly studied.
All in all, by producing and choosing fabrics made inside European Union we know more about the chemical use and regulations in the textile industry.
We hope you learnt something new about fabric making - have a wonderful end of the week!
Ama & Essi & Elli
P.s. the technical fabrics that we are using at Népra are from Italy and they are Oeko-tex 100 Standard certificated. This means that the fabrics are tested for harmful chemicals.
Photos by Julius Töyrylä