Top Ten Fabrics You Should Recognise By Sight And Touch

There are many reasons you might want to know more about materials.

Although many new products are labeled within the modern world, there will no doubt be times in your life when all you have to work out what fabric might be is touch and sight.

There are people in the world who can tell fabrics apart just from the way they feel in their hands.

Top Ten Fabrics You Should Recognise By Sight And Touch

So you want to know more about fabric – you want to have the hands of a seamster, the knowledge to take one look at a piece of clothing and know exactly what it’s made out of.

If this sounds like you, then you’ve arrived at the right article. In the list below, we’re going to be taking you through 10 of the most common fabrics that you should be able to recognize by touch.

We’ll take you through each one and why it is important in the world of fabric.

We’ve also made sure to include a short FAQ section at the end of this article to help you out with any technical terms we use, or any additional questions you might have.

The goal of all of this is to get you more familiar with the wonderful and varied world of different fabrics.

So, let’s get to it!

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You may have heard the term’ smooth as silk’ before, and there’s a reason for this! Silk is one of the most easily recognizable fabrics in the world because of its distinct, light texture.

Silk is widely used as a material to make clothing, but it has other uses too. It’s often used to make things such as curtains, bedsheets, tablecloths, etc.

It is less commonly used – though perhaps underutilized – for pieces of clothing. Some of the most common silk clothes you’ll find are silk shirts, silk ties, silk dresses, and silk underwear.

All of these items are very soft and comfortable, making them perfect for wearing around the house.

They’re also extremely durable, so you won’t need to worry about them getting ruined after a few washes.

It’s worth noting, however, that silk is a less commonly used material and is often used sparingly when it comes to constructing an outfit. For example, you don’t see too many full silk suits!



Cotton is another great fabric to learn how to identify by touch. This is mainly due to its softness, which makes it ideal for making garments.

Like silk, cotton is also widely used in the home. You can buy cotton sheets, cotton towels, cotton blankets, and even cotton clothing.

It’s also used in some cases where other fabrics aren’t suitable. For instance, cotton is sometimes used to make children’s clothing.



Wool is probably the best-known fabric in the world. It’s been used for thousands of years, and it’s still being used today.

It’s incredibly versatile, and it’s often used to make both clothing and household goods.

Woolen jumpers are a legendary piece of clothing that has been used for generations to keep warm through long winter nights.

Wool is made from the hair of sheep, and it’s one of the strongest natural fibers on earth. It’s not only strong, but it’s also breathable, making it perfect for keeping your body cool during hot weather.

It’s also hypoallergenic, meaning that it doesn’t cause allergic reactions in people who suffer from allergies. It’s also naturally anti-bacterial, meaning that it helps prevent infections.

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Linen is a type of natural fiber that’s grown from flax plants. It’s similar to cotton, but it’s much softer than cotton. It’s also often mixed with cotton to create blended fabrics.

Linen is a popular choice for making clothing, but it’s also used to make everything from pillows to shoes. It’s also useful for making linens and towels.

Linen clothing is less common than some of the other fabrics on this list, but it’s becoming more popular every day.

The reason why linen is less common is that it’s expensive compared to other materials. However, if you want something soft and comfy, then linen is worth considering.



Nylon is a synthetic fiber that’s man-made. It’s often used alongside other fibers to create blends. It’s also very flexible, which makes it great for creating clothing.

It’s also highly resistant to fading, so it lasts well over time. It’s not as popular as other materials like cotton, but it’s still widely used.



Rayon is a type of synthetic fiber that’s made from wood pulp. It’s also known as viscose rayon since it’s made using cellulose. It’s often used in conjunction with other types of fibers, including nylon and polyester.

It’s great for making clothing because it’s lightweight, breathable, and stretchy. It’s also very easy to dye, which makes it a good choice for creating patterns.

If you’re looking to save money, then rayon may be a good option to consider. It’s cheaper than many other options, and it’s also biodegradable.

However, it does require a lot of energy to produce, which means that it’s not environmentally friendly.



Polyester is a synthetic fabric that looks similar to cotton. It has a lot of uses, such as in clothing or bedding.

It’s also quite durable, which makes it great at resisting stains and wrinkles. It’s also hypoallergenic, so people who have allergies should be fine wearing it.

You will most commonly find Polyester in clothing within sportswear. It is one of many plastic-based synthetic materials that is used to make clothing durable, sweat-resistant, and flexible.

It can be hard to tell if a piece of clothing is made out of Polyester sometimes because it is often mixed with other materials.

For example, you might find cotton sports socks that are also made with polyester – this means you get the best of both worlds.

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Spandex is a type of elastic fiber that’s found in clothing. It’s used to create different kinds of clothing, including leggings, yoga pants, and workout wear. It’s also used to make swimsuits, socks, and bras.

It’s a great material for those who want to lose weight since it helps keep your skin tight while still allowing you to move freely – and it is often used as gear for running, or other sports where you need to be able to move your body.



Leather is an animal product that’s been tanned to make it stronger and longer-lasting. It comes in various colors, textures, and sizes.

Leather is perfect for making bags, belts, wallets, and jackets. It’s also great for making upholstery, furniture, and even flooring. It’s also biodegradable, so it doesn’t take long to break down after use.

Leather is easy to recognize by its often rather tough feeling consistency. This is due to the leather being a natural product, meaning it contains oils and fats that give it a unique feel.

It’s also waterproof, meaning it won’t easily absorb water. These characteristics mean leather is perfect for making shoes, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, and luggage.

Camel Hair

Camel Hair

This is a more lavish fabric, but we wanted to add it to the end of our list because of its rich history within fashion.

Camel Hair refers to the hair on the neck of camels, and it was first used to make hats. It’s now used to make everything from clothing to home furnishings. It’s soft, warm, and luxurious.

It’s also incredibly strong, which makes it ideal for making coats, jackets, and other outerwear items.

Camel hair is most easily recognized by its distinctive look. It has a very thick texture, and it tends to come in either black or white.

It’s also extremely soft, which makes it a great choice for anyone with sensitive skin.

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So How Can I Identify An Unknown Fabric?

So now that we’ve given you a list of the most essential fabrics you should be able to recognize – there is still a question of how you can learn to identify them yourself?

We will break this up into two basic categories – sight and touch.


The first thing you need to do when trying to identify a fabric is to get a good look at it.

The best way to do this is to hold the fabric up against a light source. If you’re not sure what kind of fabric it is, try holding it up next to some other similar fabrics.

Once you have a better idea about what it looks like, you’ll be able to start comparing it to the list above.


If you don’t know what kind of fabric it is, then you’ll probably need to touch it to figure it out. Try touching it with your fingers, or rubbing it between your thumb and forefinger.

You may notice that certain fabrics are softer than others, or they may feel rough. That’s because each fabric has a specific feel, and you can learn to recognize these differences through practice.

How To Know For Sure?

Once you know what kind of fabric something is, you can then start looking for clues to help you identify it again. There are three main ways to do this:

  1. Look At The Label
  2. Check What Other Materials the garment is made with.
  3. Ask Someone Who Knows What It Is

Let’s go over all three of these methods one by one.

Look At The Label

When shopping online, you should always check the label on the item itself. It will tell you what the fabric content is, and if any additional information is available.

Check What Other Materials The Garment Is Made With

You should also take note of what else is included in the package. Some garments may include multiple layers of different materials.

For example, a jacket might contain an inner lining, as well as an outer shell. By taking note of what else is inside the package, you can narrow down the possibilities even further.

Ask Someone Who Knows What Its Made Of

Finally, you can ask someone who knows what the fabric is. They should be able to provide you with detailed information about it.

What About Synthetics?

synthetic fabrics

Now that you know how to identify the most common types of fabric, you may wonder what to do with synthetics.

Well, while synthetics are often used in clothing, they aren’t quite as common as natural fibers. However, you can still use the same techniques to identify them.

For instance, you could hold a piece of material up to a light source and see if it reflects any colors. This would indicate that it contains polyester.

You could also rub the fabric between your thumb and forefingers. This would give you a sense of whether it feels smooth or rough.

In addition to those two things, you could also test the durability of the fabric. If it seems to wear away quickly, it’s likely to be synthetic.

What Kind Of Fabric Is Best For Your Needs?

Now that you know all about the different types of fabrics available, you might be wondering which one would work best for your needs. Here are a few things to consider:


If you’re looking for something durable, then you should choose cotton. Cotton is a natural fiber, and it’s highly resistant to wrinkles, stains, and fading.

It’s also breathable, which means it keeps you cool during hot weather, and comfortable during cold weather.


If you’re planning on using your fabric for heavy-duty purposes, such as making clothes, then you should choose synthetic fabric instead.

Synthetic fibers are much sturdier than their natural counterparts, so they’re great for making anything that requires strength.

They’re also hypoallergenic, which means they won’t cause any allergic reactions if worn by someone who suffers from allergies.

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If you want to wear your fabric comfortably without it getting too tight, then you should go with a woven fabric. Woven fabrics are flexible, which means they move well with the body, and they tend to stretch less than knitted fabrics.


If you’re on a budget, then you should stick with cheaper fabrics. Cheap materials usually aren’t made with quality, so they’re likely to fade quickly, wrinkle easily, and become stained easily.

However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more money, then you can find high-quality fabrics that last longer and resist wrinkling and fading.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! Learning to tell what a fabric is with just a look or a touch is a fantastic skill to have, no matter what your profession is.

If you’re a person who is getting into clothing and fabrics, be it as a hobby or as a job, it’s worth training yourself to be able to recognize different fabrics.

To do this, the best advice we can give you is to expose yourself to as many different fabrics as you can.

Reading about them online is one thing, but seeing and touching them in real life is a valuable experience that will help you meet your goals.

Ultimately the best advice we could give you is to go out and each time you see a new garment on a shop floor, try to guess what fabrics it is, and then check after!

By quizzing yourself in this way you will eventually get quite the eye for detecting the origin of fabrics.

We hope that this article has given you all of the information you’ll need to pick up this new, important skill and that you now feel a lot more confident about the whole process!

If you still have some questions, that’s fine! Check out our short FAQ section below for some answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute queries answered below!

What Fabric Is Best For Dry Skin?

A good question! The answer depends on the type of fabric you’re looking at.

For example, if you’re looking at a silk blouse, then you’d probably want to avoid cotton because it tends to cling to the wearer’s skin.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a material that’s going to keep you warm, then wool is the way to go.

How Can I Tell If A Fabric Is Washable?

This is pretty easy. All you have to do is look at the label. If the label says “washable”, then the fabric is suitable for washing. If not, then it’s not.

As a bonus, when you’re buying a piece of clothing, make sure that the label says something like “dry clean only” or “dry clean only recommended”.

These labels mean that the item cannot be washed, and therefore you shouldn’t use regular laundry detergent.

Instead, you should use a specialized cleaning product designed specifically for delicate items.

Why Does My Fabric Feel Scratchy?

This happens when you accidentally buy cheap fabric. A cheap fabric will often contain tiny holes, which allow dust particles to enter the weave.

When these particles land on your fabric, they leave small marks behind. To remove these scratches, simply rub the fabric gently with a soft cloth.

Is It Possible To Spot Dye A Fabric?

Spot dyeing is a technique where you apply color directly onto the surface of a fabric. It’s used by people who are making their clothes, rather than purchasing ready-made garments.

This is done so that the colors don’t fade over time. However, spotting dyes aren’t always permanent, so you may find that your fabric ends up looking slightly faded after wearing it for a while.

How Can I Spot Dye A Fabric?

Spot dyeing is a technique that involves applying color directly onto the fabric. It’s used primarily by people who are making clothes themselves, rather than buying pre-made garments.

This means that the colors won’t fade over time. Spot dyeing isn’t always permanent though, so you might find that your fabric looks somewhat faded after wearing it for some time.

How Long Does It Take To Learn How To Recognize Fabrics?

It depends on how much effort you put into learning. We’ve found that once you start paying attention to the details, you’ll quickly notice patterns and begin to recognize fabrics.

It takes a little bit of practice to become a true expert, but once you do, you’ll never forget those crucial details again.

Do You Know Any Tips For Spotting Fabrics?

Yes, there are lots of things you can do to help you identify different types of fabrics. One of the most useful techniques is called “touch testing.”

In this method, you touch the fabric and observe its reaction. Some fabrics react to being touched, while others don’t.

Once you’ve identified the fabrics that react to being touched, you can then determine what kind of fabric each one is.

What Are The Best Ways To Store Fabrics?

Fabric storage is important because it allows you to easily access your favorite pieces.

There are two main methods: hanging and stacking. Hanging allows you to lay out your fabrics in order from lightest to heaviest.

Stacking is similar to hanging, except that you hang your fabrics vertically instead of horizontally. Both methods work well, but we prefer hanging our fabrics.

Amanda Brown

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