Textile components are extras that are added to the fabric used to make a textile item. Without components, it would be very difficult to make textile items. Components are most often pre-manufactured (bought ready-made). Components can be home-made, such as shoulder pads or covered buttons.
The role of components is to aid construction (thread), to allow for opening and closing (zippers), to add strength (interfacing), to embellish (beads), to insulate (wadding), to add shape (shoulder pads), and generally improve the quality of the product. When choosing a component, a designer needs to consider care, cost, quality, aesthetic appeal, safety issues and end use. The following table lists some common components and their end uses:
To hold fabric pieces together, to add fastening, to add decoration. Examples: Cotton, polyester, metallic, and silk threads stranded and pearl embroidery threads. Novelty threads (multi-coloured or invisible) and woold threads for knitted products.
Beads and Sequins
To decorate with colour and texture and catch the light and to add weight to a product. Examples: Plastic, wood, diamante, metal, pearls, and semi-precious stones.
Ribbon, binding, cords, and braids
To add decorative edgings or decorative features. To be used as ties, and fastenings. Examples: Fabric strips or different weights, patterns, widths, and fibres. Bias binding will stretch when stitched on edges. Braids can have fringing, beads, feathers, and embroidery added for decorative effect. The cord can be put into fabric casings as piped edge or seam.
To aid sewing, add strength, give shape and structure, or to be used as a bonding glue. Examples: Non-woven sew or iron-on (fusible) fabric paper backed or web-fabric bonding glue (Bbondaweb).
To speed up the decorative process and add a feature. Examples: School and team badges, children’s animal motifs, etc.
To add shape and definition to the shoulder of a garment. Examples: The foam pad can be fabric covered.
To add strength and decoration. Examples: Metal jeans rivets, diamante, decorative rivets.
To add decoration, make visible in the dark and increase security. Examples: Used on footwear for children, on fashion belts and costumes.
To add rigidity and structure. Examples: Used in strapless dresses, corsets and in underwear and can be plastic, rigilene, or fabric-covered metal, steel.
To add stretch and reduce fullness to waists, cuffs, hems or stitched into the body of a garment or item. Examples: Tape in widths, shirring elastic thread, decorative waistbands and belts.
Fastenings are components used for closing products for fit, security, or for enhancements. When choosing a fastening, a designer must consider the following:
- What product is the fastening for and what would suit it?
- What role does the fastening have to play in the product?
- How secure does the fastening need to be?
- How much will the fastening cost?
- Does it need to be a design feature?
- Does it need to be invisible?
- Can it be manufactured?
Frequently used Fasteners
Zippers are one of the most secure fastenings, and reasonably quick and easy to apply to products. There are different types of zippers, which come in different weights; some are nylon and some metal. The weight is chosen to suit the fabric weight as well as matching the colour and metal zippers are used when strength is required (such as on jeans). Zippers are fixed on tapes often made from woven cotton, polyester and polycotton.
Buttons come in a wide range of sizes and materials. Designers select the best materials and size of the button to fit the product and the way it will be cared for. A button can be damaged in the wash or dissolve in dry-cleaning chemicals. Most buttons are fastened with a buttonhole but some have loops. Buttons are not just to fasten but can also enhance a product through matching or contrasting the colour or adding a feature by being shaped in an unusual way or being patterned. Some expensive products have fabric-covered buttons, matching the button to the fabric identically.
Hooks and Eyes
These are usually made from metal and are used when a flat fastening is needed. They can be hand or machine sewn in place and also come in tape form, giving a length of hooks and eyes, as used in underwear and corsetry. They tend to be black or silver in colour.
Velcro is a hook and loop style fastening used for quick, simple applications, especially for children’s products, as it is safe and easy to use. It is not a suitable closure if the fabric is fine, as it is bulky and the hooks can snag finer fabrics. It washes well and is hard wearing but the hooks and pick up other fibres over time, making them less effective if not cleaned regularly.
Press-studs or poppers are simple, flat closures used for many textile products. They can be metal or plastic and can be part of a design feature or just a cheap, simple closure. They need to be matched correctly and the size selected must be appropriate to the force that may be put on the fastening.
Eyelets and Lacing
Metal or stitched eyelets are placed on the product and laces are threaded through to form the closure. This can be decorative and can also allow for adjustment in the fit of the product. This style can be found in corsetry and dresses and on footwear.
Buckles are popular as a fastening on belts, bags, and shoes; they can be made from metal or plastic and can be very ornately decorated or very simple. Buckles often have eyelets to fasten into or you may just fold the fabric in a sliding action to tighten or loosen. Modern buckles can have LED components with lit-up names on the buckle.
Toggles are similar to buttons but tend to be cylinder shaped and can be wood, metal or plastic. They require a loop or cord to fasten and some modern toggles have a tightening spring-clip action to hold them in place. They are often seen on duffle coats or rucksacks.
Drawstring fastening comprises a cord and open channel to thread the cord through to tighten and close the product. Drawstrings are popular on coats, jackets, waistbands, and bags.
Textile Components and the Future
As is the case with fibre and fabric technology, innovations in component technology are ongoing. The use of electrical components such as LEDs and fibre optics is still new ground for component design.
The military has designed optic sensors that are put into soldiers’ garments to detect harmful chemicals or warn them that the enemy has detected their presence.
Thermal insulating wadding can be enhanced with temperature-regulation technology; these are known as PCMSs (Phase-Change Materials) and are tiny microcapsules embedded in a wadding material. This means the wadding reacts automatically to a change in temperature. It is used in jackets to be worn where there are quick temperature changes, such as when skiing or for airport ground crew, and in boot linings. Inflatable technology is another innovation in component technology, enabling padding to be replaced with blow-up pads, for example in bras.