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Difference Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth

Have you ever wondered what's the difference between fabric and cloth or other types of textiles? This guide will fill you in!

Updated September 14, 2022
Difference Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth

Cloth vs Fabric vs Textile Info:

When learning about sewing you might be curious about the meaning of the terms "textile," "fabric," and "cloth." They are often used interchangeably, but there are actually subtle differences.

So, what's the difference between textile and fabric? Textile vs fabric? The difference between fabric and cloth? Don't fret!

When it comes to the materials commonly used in sewing, crafts, and home projects, it can get confusing. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the various fabrics you might come across.

Knowing the meanings will help you search for and pick out the correct materials for sewing and craft projects.

With definitions and examples of these different materials, you will have a better idea of what you will need for your next sewing and home projects, along with what to avoid for certain makes. It will also help you better understand the industries that use these terms.

Below, find an explanation of each term, along with a few examples to illustrate their various qualities.

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The Primary Meanings and Differences:

So, what exactly is the difference between fabric and textile? To understand the small differences between these three important words, let’s first look at their definitions.

"Textiles" are defined (by the Collins dictionary) as "types of cloth or fabric, especially ones that have been woven."

"Fabric" is defined (by the Collins dictionary) as "cloth or other material produced by weaving together cotton, nylon, wool, silk, or other threads. Fabrics are used for making things such as clothes, curtains, and sheets." (Please note that fabric can also be made by knitting or felting fibers.)

"Cloth" is defined (by the Collins dictionary) as "fabric which is made by weaving or knitting a substance such as cotton, wool, silk, or nylon. Cloth is used especially for making clothes."

As you can see, there is so much crossover between these three terms. To put it simply, all fabrics and cloth are a form of textile but all textiles are not always fabric or cloth.

Textile is a broader term and it can be used in all kinds of industries, not just in clothing or home decor production.
 

Difference Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Collage of Various Materials

Textile:

The word textile can refer to materials used in many fields and industries. These range from those used for clothing and apparel (like cottons and wools) to those for industrial purposes (made from specialized materials like nylon and fiberglass yarn).

Industrial textiles are utilized in almost every field imaginable, including architecture, medicine, and even the aerospace industry (pretty cool!).

Differences Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Weed Barrier Fabric

Fabric:

Fabrics can be made either with one raw material or by blending two or more together. Examples of fabric include (but are not limited to): polyester, linen, wool, silk, velvet, denim, and satin. This is the most commonly used word to refer to the supply used to make clothing, apparel, and soft interior furnishings.

Differences Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Faux Fur
Differences Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Fleece
Differences Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Fleece

Cloth:

Lastly, the word cloth is typically associated with a material used to create clothing, though there are exceptions. Sometimes it can be used to refer to a piece of fabric that covers an inanimate object (like a cloth cover for a piano).

Cloth is pliable, meaning it can be bent easily without losing its shape or breaking. A common example of a type of cloth is “terry cloth.” This soft, loopy fabric is made from absorbent cotton fibers (or cotton-blend fibers) and is perfect for robes and bath towels.

Differences Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Cotton and Bamboo Blend
Differences Between Textile and Fabric and Cloth: Cotton and Bamboo Blend

Now we know the small differences between these three popular sewing terms! 

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