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Natural fibers: Long vs Short Fiber’s characteristic

In this article, let’s talk about the length of natural fiber fabric, their different characteristics and how they affect your final product. Eventhough this is a basic information, but it is significant when selecting fabric for your design.

Types of natural fibers

Natural fibers are mainly made from natural raw materials, either vegetable or animal.

Natural fibers have specific lengths, and these differences are related to the characteristics and texture of the fabric.

Long fibers (filaments) are used to make shiny fabrics.

Short fibers are short fibers (spun), which are twisted into a single strand in a process called spinning. Since short fibers are made by combining them, they do not have uniform thickness and are used for clothing that requires soft texture, thickness, and warmth.

Silk – Long fiber

It is the only long fiber among natural fibers.

One cocoon, the raw material of silk, yields a single long fiber of 1,500 m. Silk is the only natural fiber with such a long fiber.

No other natural fiber is this long.

Silk, made from the raw silk from silkworm cocoons, is a material that is pleasant to the touch and has excellent heat and moisture retention properties.

Because of its elegant luster, it is often used for neckties and high-end clothing.

It has the disadvantages of being easily eaten by insects, and being susceptible to friction and damage.

SLK120 本絹羽二重12匁[生地] オークラ商事
SLK120 Genuine silk Habutai 12 mace


The length of a typical cotton fiber is about 28 mm.

Cotton is classified by fiber length.

Cotton with a fiber length of 21 mm or less is short-fiber cotton.

Medium-fiber cotton is up to 28 mm in length, and

and those with a fiber length of 28 mm or more are classified as long-fiber cotton.

Among long-fiber cotton, those with a fiber length of 35 mm or longer are called ultra-long staple fibers. Long-length cotton has a luster and a very luxurious feel.

Cotton is often used for products that directly touch the skin, such as T-shirts and underwear, because of its good texture and moisture absorption properties.

It is also highly durable, making it ideal for daily-use clothing.

1077730 ALBINI CORCORAN フライス[生地] 瀧定名古屋
1077730 ALBINI CORCORAN Circular Rib Takisada Nagoya


There are many types of wool, but merino wool is probably the most well-known fiber made by processing the wool of merino sheep. Fibers are 5 to 30 cm long, and the fibers are intricately intertwined and airy, making it warm.

It is an essential material for winter because of its high heat retention properties, but it is also used for summer clothing because of its humidity control function that absorbs and releases moisture.

3-6023 REDA ACTIVE プレーンウールポンチ[生地] 瀧定名古屋
3-6023 REDA ACTIVE Plain wool Takisada-Nagoya


Linen is made from the fibers of plant stems.

There are two types of linen (flax) and ramie (ramie) used for clothing. The fiber length is 2 to 3 cm for flax and 2 to 25 cm for ramie.

It is strong and has a hollow fiber center, making it excellent in moisture absorption and quick-drying, and it is widely used for spring and summer clothing. The fabric is hard and does not stretch easily, but this makes it difficult to lose its shape.

22409 フレンチリネン40sキャンバスワッシャー[生地] SUNWELL(サンウェル)
22409 French Linen 40s Canvas Washer [Fabric] SUNWELL


We hope you can choose the suitable fabric after this article.

The length of the fibers also has a lot to do with the characteristics and texture of the fabric. The texture also changes depending on how many strands are drawn together. 

For natural fiber fabric product list, please visit ApparelX Fabric List

Hi guys, this is Jane, the editor of ApparelX News. As a foreigner living in Tokyo, I hope my posts will help international readers get an overview about Japanese fashion industry as well as Japanese culture!