It’s hard to imagine someone’s life not involving textiles in some form. Whether it’s the clothes we wear, the sheets we sleep on at night, or the upholstery in our car, textiles are everywhere. Our clothing might be the ones we interact with the most, but there’s a lot to be said about home textiles as well. They are part and parcel of what makes our homes feel like home.
Whether it’s for functionality or for aesthetics, home textiles are a huge industry. It is also a field with a great deal of variety, both in the types of products available and in the ways companies fill the needs of consumers. Not all bedsheets or table linens are the same, after all.
We begin with defining what home textiles are. These are fabrics and materials that we use in enhancing and improving the aesthetics and comfort of internal space. They’re not clothes, but instead will be used on furniture and fixtures. However, they might be made using the same Sintelli machines that your cardigans and shirts are made with. They come in patterns and colors and designs, and they help make a house feel personalized, the way a home should.
Making home textiles isn’t that different from making clothing, in terms of logistics and processes. Depending on the product, the materials used might be animal, vegetable, synthetic, mineral or polymer fibers. These are woven or knitted, depending on the needs of the product they will be made into. Some of them will be blended with other fabrics, while others are pure cotton or pure wool.
The process for making the textiles will vary. Apart from weaving and knitting, these might also be crocheted or pressed together. The nature of the product will determine how it is made. What is standard, however, is the use of an appropriate machine for each production process. Knitted fabrics use different equipment than woven ones, which in turn look different from what’s used to press fabrics together.
As noted, there are multiple types of home textiles. Here are some of the most popular ones, the kind you’re likely to see in virtually any home. Many of these have existed in some form or another for much of human history, with styles and means of production that go back centuries.
Bedding is the most common. It’s almost universal, as no society doesn’t have some form of bedding. Of course, no bed is purely textile, but there is a great deal more comfort if you cover the bedding with fabric. Bedding textiles include the pillowcases and comforters, as well as the sheets. They’re there for comfort, but they also provide an aesthetic touch and can help keep the materials inside clean. It’s generally easier to clean bedding than to clean what they’re covering.
Floor coverings are another type of home textile. They’re popular, though not universal. Many homes forego them entirely, opting instead to show off the finish of their floor. The ones that do opt to cover it up will use one of two things. The rug or the carpet.
These two are functionally the same, which means most people don’t realize the differences between carpeting and rugs. Structurally speaking, they are fibers that are tucked into a base material, providing a plush surface. The difference is in installation. A rug is something that can be removed or moved around with ease. A carpet is something that is installed, usually wall to wall, and takes much more effort to pull out.
Both also provide additional insulation. Rugs and carpets can help keep the floors warm in an environment that has a great deal of cold. However, their presence also means that they are at risk of things being spilled on them.
There is also the humble tablecloth, usually used to just add an aesthetic touch. However, they also perform the practical function of protecting against spilled liquids. This can prolong the lifespan of most tables, as well as preserve any aesthetic finish that it might have. Table runners might fulfill a similar function, but they generally don’t cover the full surface area.
Like all other home textiles, you’ll find these in a wide range of colors, fabrics, and designs. Table linens are pretty typical, but you might also run into cotton, rayon, or combined fabrics. Lace and damask are also popular options. The range is broad enough that every home can have its own unique table aesthetic.
Home textiles provide us with another way to personalize our living space. They make our houses into comfortable areas, places where we can relax and truly feel at home. They are a large part of the textile industry, though one that’s arguably not as glamorous as clothing and fashion. However, our homes would be very different without them.