Textile Finishes – An Introduction

 The term finishing means completing the manufacture of cloth by surface treatment. In a broad sense, it covers all the treatments it undergoes after leaving the loom or knitting machine till it enters the market. The clothes we wear are not made from raw fabrics. Most of fabrics are processed in fabric stage and in some cases textile finishing may be performed in after making the garment.

Textile finishing includes processes like bleaching, mercerizing, dying and printing. But it is normally confined the final stage in the embellishment of the final goods after dying and printing. Even these introductions of term do not apply to certain treatments, which are carried out not at the final stage but at the intermediate stage and even at the manufacturing stage itself.

For an example, delusturing of rayon, a finishing treatment, is carried out at the manufacturing stage by incorporating TiO2 in the spinning solution. With few exceptions however the term is used for processes other than bleaching, dying and printing for improving the appearance, physical properties and serviceability of the fabrics.

Most of the fabrics require some kind of finishing treatment or other. A bleached long cloth may not require any finishing treatment except calendaring. But synthetic fibre fabrics need treatment like anti-pilling or soil release finish in order to improve their wear quality.

Therefore apart from conventional methods of finishing, new methods have been developed to properties and serviceability of both natural and synthetic fibre fabrics, necessity being the mother of the innovation. Finishing treatments depend on various factors such as the nature of the fibres, texture of the fabric, its physical properties, end use of the material and so on. The finishing operations differ according to the type of fibre in the fabric and properties to be imparted to it by mechanical and chemical methods.

Why Finishing is needed for textiles?
To need of textile finishing is explained below with few points. Main objects of textile finishing includes
  • To improve the appearance of the fabric that makes it more attractive lustrous by operations like calendaring, shearing, optical whitening etc
  • To improve the feel of the fabric by softening, stiffening etc
  • To cover faults in the original fabric (e.g. by starch finishing)
  • To increase the weight of the cloth, (e.g. by back filling with starch and china clay or by chloride treatment for silk)
  • To improve wearing qualities of cloth by making it shrink resistant (e.g. by sanforising cotton cloth or by non-felting wool), crease resistant (by incorporating suitable resins) or free from pills and soiling (by anti pilling and soil release finish)
  • To make garments to hold shape and enable them be worn without ironing e.g. by durable finishing
  • To impart special properties to the fabric for the specific end uses such as water proofing, flame proofing, moth proofing etc
  • To set the texture of certain fabrics and makes others dimensionally stable e.g. by crabbing or potting (wool) and heat setting (synthetic fibre fabrics):
  • To produce stronger and more durable fabrics such as seat covers of car by coating, bonding and laminating:
  • To produce novelty effect (e.g. organdie fabrics by parchmentising)
Also See: Textile Finishing: Classification of finishes

Types of possible finishes

 Types of possible finishes are shown for different fabrics
  • Blends: Softness, limpiness, water repellency, silky feel and bulky
  • Canvas: Softness, limpiness, water repellency, and stain resistance
  • Cottons: Dry, soft feel, wet feel, and silky feel
  • Denims: Bulkiness, soft feel, water repellency, stone wash, softner wash, soft faded look, pumice finish, silky feel, and puckered feel
  • Knits: Hydrophilic/hydrophobic, feather touch, comfort feel, stain resistance
  • Sewing threads: Lubricity, improved tensile strength and softness
  • Terry towels:  Excellent water absorbency, soft fluffy feel, stain resistance, non-yellowing finish
  • Twills: Limpiness, soft silky feel, bulky heavy feel, water repellency, wrinkle free finish, buttery feel, faded, puckered, bouncy/rubbery, soft, durable finish, stain resistance, and feather touch

Source: This document was prepared under class assignment at NIFT. Information was collected from various online and off-line sources. This article is further edited by OCS and published here.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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