Reading Passage 13 – How Fabric is Made

Keywords: Year 5+, informative text, 10 questions [6 MCQs, 4 short-answer questions], ‘Curious Kids’ articles, The Conversation.

Recommended time: 20 minutes.

The following passage has been sourced from a Curious Kids article from The Conversation. The article was written by Ken Aldren S. Usman and Dylan Hegh. The comprehension questions were written by me.

Read more to view the passage and the reading comprehension questions.

How is fabric made? – Saskia, age 5, Sydney

Hi Saskia, that’s a great question!

From clothes to curtains, towels and sheets, fabrics are everywhere in our daily lives. You might also hear people call them “textiles”.

People have been making fabric, or textiles, for a very long time. In fact, they’ve been doing it for almost 35,000 years!

Let’s first think about what a fabric is. The dictionary says fabric is a cloth made by knitting or weaving together fibres.

What is a fibre?

A fibre is like a strand of hair. It’s very long and thin.

Fibres can come from nature. Some common natural fibres are cotton, silk and wool.

A branch of cotton laid across a wooden table.
Raw cotton as it is found on the branch. Shutterstock

Humans have also found ways to make fibres ourselves in the past 150 years. We can use technology to turn oil into fibres. We can even make special fibres to make your raincoat waterproof, or make a soldier’s vest bullet-proof.

But how can these thin, hair-like fibres be made into something we can wear?

From fibre to yarn

First, we need to put the fibres together to make long strings of yarn. This can be tricky because many fibres are quite short, especially natural ones.

A cotton fibre is usually only around 3cm long. That’s shorter than a paper clip. Wool is usually cut from a sheep when it is 7.5cm long – about the length of a crayon.

We twist these shorter fibres together to make a longer yarn. The twisting makes the fibres rub together and grip to each other. This is called yarn spinning.

Yarn spinning

The first step of yarn spinning involves taking bundle of fibres, lining them up, them combing them like you comb your hair … or how you might comb a long beard! In fact, when we’ve combed them into a sheet, we call it a “beard”.

Hand holding raw wool spinning it into yarn.
Before we can make wool into fabric, it needs to be spun into yarn. Shutterstock

Next, the sheet is stretched into a long tube. As it stretches, it becomes thinner and thinner. Then we twist it to form a yarn. This delicate sheet of fibres may have been metres wide to begin with, but we twist it into a thin thread.

There are all types of yarn threads. They can be thin, thick, hard, soft, stretchy, or even ones you can’t cut! It all depends on the starting fibre and the machine settings.

Turning yarn into fabric

Once we have our yarn, we’re ready to make fabric. There are many ways do this, such as weaving, knitting or felting.

Weaving crosses the yarns over and under in a chessboard pattern. Knitting makes loops that pass through each other.

A woman weaves pink and yellow yarns into frabric using wooden poles.
Weaving yarn into fabric can be done by hand, or by machine. Shutterstock

Felting is when we get wool fibres wet and soapy. We rub the fibres together until they are all tangled up. Then we press the fibres into a flat sheet called felt.

Weaving, knitting and felting can be very slow if you do them by hand! These days we often use machines to speed things up.

How fabric is made

So we start with the fibre. Then we spin it into long strings of yarn. Next we weave, knit or felt the yarn into fabric. And that, Saskia, is how we make fabric.

Questions

  1. Which of these is not mentioned in the article as an example of something we could make from fibre?

a) Yarn

b) Bulletproof vests

c) Hair

d) Curtains

2. According to the article, what is a ‘beard’?

a) A type of facial hair

b) A sheet of felt

c) A sheet of fibre

d) Raw cotton, silk or wool

3. Which of these is not a type of fibre stated in the article?

a) Linen

b) Cotton

c) Wool

d) Silk

4. Arrange these steps into the correct order:

  • The yarn is woven, knitted or felted into fabric.
  • Fibres are twisted together.
  • Fibres are combed into a sheet.
  • Fibres are stretched and lengthened.

5. Knitting is ______________ that involves ________________.

a) A method of making fabric; looping yarn through itself

b) A method of making fibre; twisting the fibre tightly together

c) A method of making felt; rubbing the yarn together

d) A method of making fabric; crossing yarn over itself

6. Based on what the article tells us, which of these statements is true?

a) What fibre you use to make yarn is the sole reason why the yarn could be thin, thick, hard or stretchy.

b) Recently, humans have learned how to create yarn and fabric.

c) Cotton, wool and silk are the only common natural fibres.

d) It would be easier to make yarn from wool than from cotton.

7. Provide an example of a sub-heading from the article. Explain one reason why the author would use sub-headings in this article.

8. Why did the author use photos in this article? Explain one possible reason why.

9. Provide an example of a literary device used in the piece. Make sure to include a quote and the name of the literary device.

10. What are the three different ways yarn can be made into fabric? Briefly explain each method in your own words.

Informative essay prompt: How are clothes made? Outline the process of making clothes, from natural fibres to making fabrics.

Persuasive essay prompt: Everyone should learn how to make fabrics. Do you agree or disagree?

Creative essay prompt: You have discovered a new type of fabric that can be used to make clothes. It seems normal at first, like cotton, but soon you realize that this fabric might not be all it seems…

Check your answers here!

Note: This passage is from Curious Kids: how is fabric made?, an article from The Conversation written by Ken Aldren S. Usman and Dylan Hegh. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right. The questions are of my own creation.

Author:

A teaching student whose goal is to become a primary-school teacher! I'm currently working as an English tutor to almost 100 students (they're all wonderful!).

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