Have you ever been to a clothing store and seen shirts textured with slightly raised bumps or fibers that look like bits of lint but intentionally so? This type of material uniquely referred to as slubbed fabric, is hardly a new trend but rather, the remnants of times past when natural materials needed to be processed and spun before being sewn into clothing items.
Slubbed fabrics typically occur in natural materials such as wool, cotton, or silk when they are processed and spun with imperfections and varying thicknesses, giving the final garment an organic textured look. Nowadays, modern technology has made the slubbing effect controlled and possible in both natural and synthetic fabrics.
Aside from its interesting name, slubbed fabrics represent the history of garment making and can happen accidentally or intentionally to give the fabric a tactile, organic look and feel.
History of the Word Slub?
According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary, the word slub dates back to the early 1800s and is defined as a soft, thick, and uneven section in yarn or thread. It is also defined as drawing out and twisting sections of the fabric slightly to create a textured appearance.
How Does Fabric Slub?
Historically, slubs occurred in natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, linen, and silk. By nature, these fibers are not likely to be even in texture or thickness. This unevenness would become evident when these fibers were spun together to make finished fabrics.
Nowadays, modern machinery can fabricate the slub effect on synthetic materials like acrylic and polyester fabrics to give it a natural aesthetic.
Is Slubbed Fabric Popular?
As with many fashion trends, slubbed fabric is no exception to cyclical popularity. Historically, slubbed fabrics were deemed as low-quality or defective, making them unpopular.
With the rise of minimalist, organic-looking fashion, and increased consumer awareness of the imperfections caused by natural fibers, the slub effect rose in popularity. It is not uncommon to walk into any fashion store without seeing basic t-shirts made of slubbed fabrics.
Where natural fibers are prevalent like linen and cotton (in Asia for example), it is not uncommon to find traditional and formal clothing made of slubbed fabric.
This trend also became popular in home décor with drapery, upholstery, and other household fabrics being made with the slubbed effect. The ability of modern machinery to create this effect in synthetic materials made it a readily accessible fabric texture.
What is the Difference Between Slub vs. Plaited Fabric?
Slubbed fabric is a single piece of fabric that is made from natural materials such as cotton, wool, silk, or linen which are then spun revealing inconsistencies in texture, thickness, and softness. Synthetic fabrics can also be given the slub effect with modern machinery. Slubbed fabrics are used to make shirts, casual clothing in certain cultures, formal attire in other cultures, upholstery, drapery, and other household fabrics.
Plaited fabric is made using strands of yarn to create braids by passing each strand over and under the other strands in an alternating sequence. Once the strands are woven together, the finished product produces a whole fabric. You can typically find plaited fabrics on garment accessories like shoelaces or in home décor like blankets.
Slub cotton simply refers to cotton that has revealed its slight imperfections and inconsistencies when spun or twisted and turned into a garment. The result is a unique piece of fabric that appears to have subtle lumps.
Is Slub Cotton Breathable?
Overall, cotton is known to be breathable, but because of the added texture and variance in thickness to certain fibers in slub cotton fabrics, it can feel slightly heavier or thicker than regular smooth cotton fabrics.
You should also consider whether or not the slubbed cotton fabric has been dyed in any way as the thicker parts of the fibers were likely to absorb more of the color which can slightly add to its weight and thickness, affecting breathability when compared to smooth cotton fabrics.
Slub Cotton vs. Pima Cotton?
While slub cotton reveals inconsistent textures and thicknesses in the fabric of finished garments, Pima cotton can be considered it’s opposite. Pima cotton is considered to be the highest quality cotton available, exemplified by its long silky strands that come together to create a strong, smooth textured fabric or textile.
While both options are comfortable, Pima cotton is known for its resistance to color-fading, softness, and longevity in your wardrobe.
While fashion trends cycle through the seasons and centuries, one fabric that has held a steadfast presence globally is slubbed fabric. The varying textures in slubbed fabrics give it an organic and comfortable charm that can be used in garments and textiles.