top of page

Fibres & Fabrics: Type of Animal Fibres & Its Nature

Before I start with dye process, I will take time to feel and touch the fabric material. It is important to know and identify your material. In the natural dye process, certainly, I have to learn more about the character of my material.

Before a painter paints a masterpiece, a canvas needs to be stretched, plan type of texture he prefers and preparing all the necessary tools to start painting. This applies the same to the dyer where the first thing you need is to know your fabric and its character.

Fabric and fibre have various type:

- plant base

- animal fibre

- man made

Animal fibres

The animal fibre contains protein since it is composed of a protein in the form of amino acids. This includes human hair as well as our skin. I noticed each time when I use Indigo dye and dip my hand, the most area will stain and last long is the fingernail. Probably, our nails contain high protein and amino acids.

Different animal fibre, contains a different amount of protein and acid amino. For instance, wool will have different shades to compare with alpaca. ( I've never dye alpaca material before this and would like to try one )

The list of protein fibre-wool base are as below:

- angora ( Angora Rabbit species )

- mohair ( Angora goat species)

- cashmere ( Kashmir goat )

- cashgora ( hybrid goat )

- camel

- dog hair/ human hair/ and another type of hair

- goatskin ( this material is used in Malaysia to make 'kompang'- music instrument usually use during wedding occasions.

If you reading this and would like to share your protein base fibres to be dyed with natural pigment, please email me and let's meet! (please find my email somewhere in 'about me' page)


I would advise you please buy consciously when now you know all protein fibres are extracted from ANIMAL. So, please consider your purpose or need to even start thinking to buy all these materials; plant or animal-based fibre.


Silk is a protein-based fibre. This type of fabric need suitable temperature. Some silk will damage if you expose it to a temperature higher than 80 Celcius. Hence, it is advisable to send your silk garment for dry clean or hand wash to keep your silk smooth and silky.

left to right: wool and cotton yarn. Both dyed with Indigo- 1 dip/shade

Silk, wool, alpaca or any animal fibres are better to be scoured in warm water (50c) to which a neutral detergent has been added. Neutral detergent is best use so it is easy to wash out of the fibre and being neither acid or alkaline. You must handle the fibres gently at each rinsing or dyeing stage to avoid felting.

Scouring is a process of pre-wash the fibre before you can start to dye them. Most of the fleece contains starch and bleaches preventing the dyes, mordant or binder from penetrating the fibres. The areas reached first by the dyes will be a darker shade; an oily or starchy area will receive less dye and the result will be uneven.

For a general wash, it works the same concept as the scouring process. If you have a leather belt, jacket or anything that is animal-based fibre, just make sure you do not introduce a shocking temperature to the material. For example, rinse them in 86 Celcius and then soak them in cold temperature after that. Just imagine when you want to shower. You don't straight away jump in the bathtub with hot boiling water. You will burn your skin!

I hope I share some basic and extra information for you to appreciate more your animal-based fibre garment. The best part of this fibre, the longer you keep them, the better it gets and definitely, give you the classic and vintage look. So take care of your garment and treat them well!

53 views0 comments
bottom of page