What is Fabric Texture and Why Should I Care?

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Fabric texture is the surface of a textile item that’s made of an intricate structure of many woven threads. The textures of these fabrics are elementary in deciding how the fabric is going to serve its buyer and how it will suit the mood of the occasion that the buyer is looking for. A buyer first checks out the color and touches the surface of a piece of fabric: soft, smooth, rough, etc. Modern fabrics use different textures in a single piece.

The first thing we look for in a piece of fabric is either color or design. Then we turn to touching the fabric. If the fabric is not comfortable or doesn’t meet the quality expectation, we draw the line on buying it right there. This means that while our visual sense can deceive us, our tactile senses usually don’t. From this insight, the textures in fabric have gone through developments regarding both quality and comfort, and people are now opting for the best among the best of fabrics.

Fabric Texture: Definition and Concepts

The texture of a fabric is defined by the materials and formulas that go into its making: fiber, yarn, weaving techniques, knitting techniques, the final touch, etc. The most basic determinant of a fabric texture is the fiber that’s being used. Fabric texture is a combination of all these elements; it’s the structure and the quality of the physical surface of the fabric.

Why is fabric texture important?

Fabric texture is important whether you’re considering a clothing fabric or a piece of fabric for interior design. Each fabric holds a statement on its own. Texture also affects how the color is going to come out in the fabric and the pattern of the weaving look. Then comes the most important thing about texture: comfort. No one likes to wear a piece of fabric that’s rough or scratchy. The texture of a fabric also sets the mood. The texture of your attire at a party tells others what kind of you are and how you can be approached. The fabric texture of your interiors tells your guests about your taste and elegance.

Different fabrics for different textures

There’s a wide array of fibers used for different texturing of a piece of fabric. In modern clothing, the combination of different fibers in a single cloth is a fashion statement in itself. However, these are the fibers that are most commonly seen or used:

  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Tweed


Cotton is definitely the most widely used fiber for its reputation of being soft, flexible and strong. In clothing like shirts, pajamas and underwear, no other fabric stands a chance against cotton in terms of usage, quality and comfort. Also, cotton is often mixed with other heavy or rugged fibers to give them a soft and cool texture.


Popular for its warming qualities, wool fabrics are widely used as winterwear all over the world. The texture of wool fabrics is soft, comfortable and insulating. Wool fabrics are used in winter garments, blankets, socks, gloves, winter hats, etc. Some people’s skins don’t respond well to wool which makes them itchy and troublesome. Another example of how fabric textures can be a very personal and subjective experience.


This luxurious fabric has the finest and smoothest of textures. Revered by the fashion designers and supermodels, silk has been in the high-market for a long time. It’s also “the fabric of the rich people” whose bedrooms are adorned with different colors and layering of silk. Silk is also a very strong fabric but it’s only renowned for its sleek texture.


TweedTweed fabrics have been in style for more than a hundred year and yet it still seems exclusive. These fabrics produce a soft, flexible structure with great durability and resistance to water, moisture or dirt. It has become the fabric of sophisticated people with a sense of style. Tweed fabrics use different threads for their unique texture that’s instantly recognizable with only eyes.

Should texture deserve your attention?

The fabric designers concern themselves with textures first because it’s the determining thing that the consumers are going to look for with or without their knowledge. Some practically designed textures used for different fabrics that have been serving their purposes since the beginning of civilization:

  • The blankets of babies are renowned for its texture- it’s soft, puffy and smooth.
  • We remember a hotel room bed sheet not for its design but for the feel and comfort it gave us (aka its texture).
  • The hospital room is furnished with such textures so patients can feel comfortable during their stay but a visitor doesn’t necessarily find a hospital room comfortable.
  • Everywhere we go and look around, we’ll find that the order of the things isn’t random but a deliberate process of structuring and texturing with different fabrics.

Textures can be manipulative

There are various textures produced and used under different circumstances. These are some of the different purposes of different textures:

  • Visual textures decide for us whether or not to buy a fabric
  • Some fabric textures propagate the so-called “masculine” and “feminine” ideas: velvet is female, leather is male
  • Textures like jeans can be deceiving since it looks hard at first but get softer with usage, or vice versa
  • Textures are associated with nostalgia, feelings, ideas, etc.

Textures and feelings

As already said before, texture is one of the sensory elements like color, scent, music, etc. The different feelings evoked by different fabric textures:

  • “Faded familiarity” is associated with silk, satin and lace
  • A sensation of energy is evoked with denim and lycra
  • A sense of “sumptuous balance” is invoked with velvet and Irish linen
  • A surge of relaxing and warm feeling is felt with tweed and fleece

Basics of fabric texture

What are the fundamentals of textures that bring out the differences in them?

Smooth or rough?

The most basic difference between textures is whether it’s smooth or rough. Even with a visible bumpiness, a texture can be smooth. The textures make differences in the color and pattern of the fabric.

Quality of weaving

The quality of threads, the expertise in weaving, the pattern used in weaving all bring out the difference in textures. The final fabric is ultimately the woven piece that has come as a whole by interlacing threads.

Textures are complicated

Even if you know what fibers and weaving processes go into the making of textures, the result may differ from what you’re expecting. The same fiber and technique used to make a fabric can have a different texture on a different fabric. So, you need to “hand” (feel the texture by touching) the texture or at least see it with good eyes before finally going for it.

Cloth texture: Different Styles and Types

Although there are different types and styles of fabric textures produced and used in the world, they can be categorized into 3 main sections:

  • Natural Texture
  • Supplementary Texture
  • Treated Texture

Natural Texture

Original/ natural texture is the result of the structural process during the manufacturing time. Natural textures are produced with the interaction of different yarns. It’s the raw and the first texture that comes out of the weaving/knitting process. The difference in natural textures is produced by what type of textile fiber is used for the process, the weight of the yarn, stitch size, etc. However, most of the difference is resolved in the fiber section. The major types of fibers are discussed in the following section.

Vegetable fibers

These are cellulosic fibers that are obtained from the plants. The fibers are strong and are usually found in the barks, seeds, fruits or the leaves of the plants. Some vegetable fibers:

  • Jute
  • Hemp
  • Flax
  • Vine
  • Ramie
  • Sisal leaf
  • Manila leaf
  • Pineapple leaf
  • Kapok
  • Coconut husk
  • Cotton

Animal fibers

One of the most popular fibers, wool is derived from the sheepskin. Animal’s hair, skin, fur, etc. are used as fibers all over the world. These animal fibers are:

  • Cashmere
  • Camel’s hair
  • Horsehair
  • Cow’s hair
  • Bombyx mori (silkworm)
  • Alpaca

Mineral fibers

There are fibers in the natural mineral sources like asbestos. This is a sort of salt that comes from Calcium and Magnesium and industries use this to mass production.

Supplementary Texture

As the name suggests, this is the texture we get when external materials are attached to the finished fabric texture. These textures are purely additional and up to individual interests. They don’t belong to the “mandatory texturing” segment where the steps are to be followed to get a final product. There are countless methods for attaching different materials on different fabrics. The methods and materials for supplementary texture:

  • Embroidery
  • Patchwork
  • Beading
  • Applique
  • Monogramming
  • Felting
  • Fabric flowers
  • Insertion
  • Ruffles
  • Using roulette loops
  • Dyeing
  • Stamping
  • Mirror work
  • Scallops
  • Shrinking fabric
  • Sequins work
  • Decorative edge finishes

Treated Texture

Whereas natural textures are the raw materials, treated textures are the refinement of these raw materials through extensive processing. It’s the different finishing touches applied on the natural textures that treated texture refers to. It doesn’t only diminishes the rawness of the texture but adds and increases its functionality. There are different types of finishes that are applied to fabric textures, such as:

  • Acid wash
  • Air jet spinning
  • Anti-static finish
  • Brushed finish
  • Beetling
  • Bleaching
  • Colorfastness
  • Combing
  • Deodorize
  • Delustering
  • Enzyme wash
  • Hydrophilic finish
  • Mercerization
  • Moire
  • Parchmentizing
  • Pigment finish
  • Resin
  • Sandblasting
  • Schreiner finish

Correlation among texture, color, and patterns

Fabric texture is the result of the pattern(s) of differently colored fibers and yarns. The coloring of texture is done in the preliminary period of manufacturing fabric. The color that’s applied directly to the fiber or to the yarn guarantees its durability. To make a texture, one or several colors can go with the structure of the pattern. Pattern can be easily defined as design.

Understanding the facts between texture and patterns

Understanding the facts between texture and patternsThe relationship between texture and pattern is intricate. The four common patterns are described below.

No pattern

The cloth texture is solid and smooth in this pattern. There’s no variation in the texture which is a result of using unvarying fiber and pattern throughout the whole clothing. A plain-woven white shirt is an example.

Smooth texture with dyed pattern

Unlike the earlier pattern, this pattern shows at least some sort of variation(s). This variation is either done by using different colors or dye or by stitching a different color in the original pattern. This produces a smooth texture with visibly different patterns. A suit made out of worsted wool is a good example of this.

Visible texture with a solid color

The cloth is only one color but the cloth texture has a visible pattern. The pattern is created by the bumps, the ridges and the uneven areas in the weave.

Visible texture with dyed pattern

This cloth includes both different textures and colors. The colored pattern and the textured pattern are different and they overlap. A black and blue striped seersucker pant is a good example. It’s the rarest combination of texture and pattern.

Understanding the facts between texture and colors

Color doesn’t only have aesthetic value but also contains an emotional value for people. Colors can determine one’s feelings about himself and other people. The same color on two different textures can look entirely different. The threads used to weave different fabrics make this distinction.

Thick threads would absorb more dye than thin ones and thus will render darker color than thin ones. The same dye used for coloring red on cotton and wool would look light red and blood red respectively. But threads are not the only thing that decides this difference. The most prominent marker of the difference comes from the weaving itself.

Another thing we almost pay no attention to before choosing a fabric is the lighting under which we see the fabric. Lights change the appearance of a color. This is due to the fabric texture that came out of the weaving pattern. Also, a texture looks different in different backgrounds.

Black fabric texture

Black fabric textureThe color black represents mysteriousness, authority, secrecy and intrigue. For professional and formal environment, black is usually worn to demonstrate a sense of control and tacitness. But black fabric textures cannot be only confined to these areas. Some people only like neutral colors, and their homes and clothes reflect that. Some common features of black fabric texture:

  • Consumes a lot of heat
  • Ideal occasional attire means a fabric with a black texture
  • Black fabric texture looks fantastic in minimalist home decoration
  • A good black fabric texture exudes confidence in interviews

White fabric texture

White fabric textureWhite represents purity, harmony and fairness. White means new beginnings. White fabric textures are reflective of all these qualities.

  • White fabric texture offers the sense of protection and exuberance
  • White texture is the mark of sophistication and style
  • Using white fabric texture in home decoration shows elegance and modernity
  • White fabrics with the correct texture are the ideal clothes for interviews
  • Wearing white exudes openness and boosts approachability

Red fabric texture

Red fabric textureRed is the color of passion, energy, enthusiasm, directness and lots of other things. It’s a positive color that’s loved by everyone at some point in their lives. Red is a gender-neutral color. But in men, it’s traditionally frowned upon that red should be worn by the leaders.

  • Anything with a red texture can be a gift for the beloved
  • Red fabric textures on bedroom demonstrate a sense of passion and taste
  • With the right combination, red can be mixed perfectly with white and black
  • Most party dresses are red with different textures
  • Dark red traditionally goes with “male” and light red goes with “female”

How to make a transition between textures and your wardrobe?

We always choose our wardrobe by textures. We don’t wear a lot of texture in a single outfit because it looks overworked and neither do we want to go unnoticed with no visible textures. Choosing the correct texture can sometimes be of paramount importance both in terms of comfort and style. The following paragraphs will elaborate on the wardrobe textures so you can choose which one you should be opting for.

Textures of jackets, trousers and suits

The textures in suits are the most visible due to its thick threads and weaving patterns. Most of the textures in suits can be manifested with the threads alone. There are also the different finishes that are applied to the suit textures that give the textures their prominence. The popular suit textures are:

  • Tweed (wool but rough and hairy)
  • Worsted (smooth texture with a dull matte finishing)
  • Corduroy (texture with vertical ridges)
  • Nailhead (dotted textures with high visibility)
  • Houndstooth ( rough texture with two dyed colors)
  • Twill ( fine texture created by diagonal ribbing)
  • Seersucker ( bumpy texture created by unique cotton weaving that allows air circulation through the fabric)

Textures of shirts

Even though it might appear that shirts don’t have textures since otherwise we couldn’t wear it against our bare skin but they do. No matter how faint they might be, the textures in shirts are important. These are some of the shirt textures:

  • Broadcloth: smooth surface
  • Poplin: can be slightly transparent for its thin and smooth texture
  • Herringbone: smooth and warm texture using diagonal zigzag weaving
  • Twill: diagonal ribbing creates a fine texture
  • Coarse Oxford: a little shiny surface with a rough texture, loosely weaved

Textures of shoes and ties

Shoes and ties have textures that are completely different from any other fabrics. Here are some textures that are used in these fabrics:

  • Brogued shoes: the texture has punched holes
  • Suede shoes: the most comfortable texture that comes with easy care
  • Woven shoes: the texture is created by interlacing leather strips
  • Polka Dot neckties: exclusively unique and smooth dotted pattern
  • Knit ties: loosely woven, bumpy texture made of silk or wool

Practical tips to deal with the goodness of texture

Using the correct texture for wardrobe can be a difficult task but the following paragraphs might help you.

Don’t overdo the textures

While going without any texture can seem dull, wearing too many textures in a single outfit is just flashy. Just stay with one or two textured clothing at most. Even if you break this primary rule, make sure your textures complement the occasion.

Keep it simple

Mixing both textures and colors is not a good idea. It looks like a lot is going on and people are going to stare with confusion. Paring textured fabrics with simple clothing is the best combination you can go for.

Mix light and dark

It’s a quite popular combination in the business and formal wearing, and it has its reasons. The dark shades of fabric really stand out against a light texture.

Using textured accents to spice things up

Even a dull, plain and simple outfit looks charismatic with the correct choice of ties, pocket square, belts, etc.

Using texture and not color

Most of the men’s wardrobe comprises black, white and grey colored fabrics. When there’s not a lot you can do about color, use different textures. Different textures give the same color different contrasts.


Textures truly bring out the uniqueness in fabrics. As already mentioned in the blog, it’s not the colors but the textures that give fabrics their uniqueness. Having different fabric textures for wearing on separate occasions is an idea that you can work on from now on. The more textures you come across, the easier it becomes to select them for your wardrobe or interior designing. This article will guide you towards your choice in textures.

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I’m a beloved housewife with a busy daily schedule. Sewing is more of my devotion than just a pursuit. I believe you can sew properly as long as you’ve esteem for the sacred job. Skills matter little. Trust me, I had none, but you wouldn’t believe seeing what I can do with the needles and fabrics now. I collect inspirations from my friends, social media, and innate creative flair. I also try to give back through this blog. I can’t promise how long I can sew. But I can surely tell you that it’s in my vein to make beautiful clothing for my cute kid and adorable hubby!


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