Introduction

The handloom industry has the advantage of flexibility of small production quantities, being amenable to innovations, low investment, labour intensive and adaptability to market requirements.


In spite of such advantages, the handloom sector has become a sunset industry because of mechanisation, modernisation and sophistication of the textile industry. In the last 100 years, handloom textile has lost its market and beauty in most countries except in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand and Cambodia. It has declined to a great extent due to entry of power loom industry which produces similar cotton fabrics at a faster and cheaper rate. There is tremendous competition in the textile market between the mill-made or power loom fabrics versus handloom fabrics.


India has the world's largest installed base of looms. The southern states also have their huge share of weaving industries. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh house about 3, 20,000 handloom weaving industries. Most of these are situated in Chirala, Uppada, Venkatagiri, Madhavaram, Hindupur, Gadwal, Emmiganur, Puttapaka, Pedana, Kothapet, Mangalagiri, Pochamapali, Ponduru, Dharamvaram, Narayanpet, and Polavaram. Coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh also have numerous centres for weaving. Each centre produces a variety of handloom products with their unique skills and techniques. Around 32 sectors including transportation, financial services, marketing services, hotels and tourism are benefiting from the handloom industry.


The annual reports of khadi and handloom sector present a sorrowful picture of stocks worth Rs 70 crore piling up in the co-operative sector alone as marketability and consumer preference for hand-woven products failed to stand up to the glitter and price advantage of mill-made textiles. It is also reported that, the main reason behind this apathy may be attributed partially to higher maintenance cost to wash and iron handloom fabric. Other reasons could be rough appearance, texture and shorter durability.


To protect our handloom fabrics, there is a need to understand the difference in handloom and power loom fabrics and associate them in terms of quality. So, an attempt was made to assess and compare the structural properties of handloom and power loom cotton fabrics.


Methodology

Based on the survey, Koyalgudem area was selected to produce the materials required to study the impact of handloom and power loom weaving on the properties of fabrics. A balanced plain weave was more durable and had flat and tight surface. It was conducive to dyeing and finishing because of its uniform distribution of yarn and air spaces. Handloom and power loom fabrics suitable for dress material, shirt material and saris were developed in plain weave with similar warp and weft yarns of 2/40s, 2/80s and 2/120s from selected weavers and machinery at Koyalgudem, Nalagonda district, Telangana. Structural properties like geometrical, handle, comfort and mechanical properties of the handloom and power loom cotton fabrics were tested following standard test procedures laid down by AATCC, ASTM and BIS standards.


Results and Discussion

The test results were analysed and presented below.

Coding of woven cotton fabrics

For the ease and convenience of writing the results and discussion, the handloom and power loom woven cotton fabrics were coded and are presented in Table no. 1.


Table No. 1. Coding of Handloom and Power loom Cotton Fabrics

Fabric details

Codes

Handloom fabric with 2/40s count (Thick fabric- Dress material)

H1

Handloom fabric with 2/80s count (Medium fabric- Shirt material)

H2

Handloom fabric with 2/120s count (Thin fabric- Sari material)

H3

Power loom fabric with 2/40s count (Thick fabric- Dress material)

P1

Power loom fabric with 2/80s count (Medium fabric- Shirt material)

P2

Power loom fabric with 2/120s count (Thin fabric- Sari material)

P3

 

Geometrical properties

Geometrical properties refer to the basic structure of woven fabrics that have great impact on the other properties of handloom and power loom cotton fabrics. Properties such as fabric thickness, weight, thread count, cover factor, compression and dimensional stability of both handloom and power loom cottons are given in Table no. 2.


Table No. 2 Geometrical Properties of Handloom and Powerloom Cotton Fabrics

Fabric

Thickness (mm)

Weight (g/m2)

Thread count

Cover factor

Compression

Dimensional stability %

EPI

PPI

Initial thickness (mm)

Thickness at max pressure (mm)

Compre-ssion %

Warp

Weft

H1

0.44

143.1

44

36

15.06

0.44

0.37

15.91

3.6

3.1

H2

0.33

75.7

60

46

14.30

0.33

0.27

18.18

4.1

3.7

H3

0.24

63.8

68

58

13.92

0.24

0.19

20.83

2.8

2.2

P1

0.42

122.7

44

34

14.77

0.42

0.35

16.67

3.5

2.9

P2

0.33

85.2

60

44

14.09

0.33

0.27

18.18

2.9

2.1

P3

0.22

62.4

68

54

13.56

0.22

0.19

13.64

2.6

1.9

As evident from Table 2 highest thickness of 0.44 mm was found in handloom H1 fabric followed by powerloom P1 fabric with 0.42 mm thickness. Power loom P3 fabric showed least thickness of 0.22 mm followed by H3 fabric with 0.24 mm. Thickness of H2 and P2 cottons was found to be same (0.33 mm). A similar trend was observed with weight of respective cotton fabrics. The weight of handloom H1, H2 and H3 cotton fabrics was 143.1, 75.7 and 63.8 g/m2 and that of P1, P2 and P3 cottons was 122.7, 85.2 and 62.4 g/m2 respectively.


Warp thread count (EPI) of handloom (H1, H2, H3) and power loom (P1, P2, P3) cotton was recorded to be 44, 60, 68 respectively. Weft thread count (PPI) of H1, H2, H3 was found to be slightly higher than P1, P2, P3 fabrics. Cover factor of handloom fabrics was higher than in power loom fabrics. Cloth cover of H1 fabric was found to be highest with 15.06 followed by P1 with 14.77 and the least of 13.56 was observed with P3 fabric.


Even though the warp and weft yarn counts and reed counts remained same for handloom and power loom cotton fabrics, handloom cottons were found to be heavier and thicker with better cover factor than the power loom fabrics which might be due to less speed and force of beating during handloom weaving. Moreover, power loom exerts unique pressure which attenuates the fabrics produced.


Compression of cotton fabrics showed slightly different effects. Highest compression percentage of 20.83% was observed with H3 handlooms followed by 18.18% for both H2 and P2 fabrics. The least compression percentage was observed with P3 power loom fabrics (13.64%). It is also clear from Table 2 that highest shrinkage of 4.1% for warp and 3.7% for weft was observed with H2 cottons followed by H1 cottons with 3.6% and 3.1% for warp and weft respectively. Less shrinkage was found in P3 fabrics with 2.6% in warp and 1.9% in weft direction.


Dimensional stability of power loom fabrics was found to be better than handloom fabrics. This might be due to the even insertion or spacing of weft yarns in the power loom weaving. However, percentage dimensional stability of all the fabrics was within the acceptable industrial range of less than 5%.


Handle properties

Handle properties have great influence in converting fabric to garments. They affect the feel and appearance of garments and help assess the ease and relaxation of the material. The handle properties of grey handloom and power loom cottons are reported in Table no. 3.


It is clear from Table no. 3 that crease recovery angle of handloom H1, H2 and H3 cotton fabrics ranged from 72° to 91° and 81° to 99° for warp and weft respectively. Power loom P1, P2 and P3 cottons exhibited crease recovery angle between 80° to 92° and 86° to 98° respectively for warp and weft. Weft recovery angle was more than warp recovery angle in both handloom and power loom cotton fabrics. Generally, crease recovery of warp is more than the weft (Sarvani and Balakrishna, 2007). It is interesting to note that the crease recovery in weft way direction was better. This might be due to the use of similar yarn counts in warp and weft.

Table No. 3. Handle Properties of Handloom and Power loom Cotton Fabrics

Fabric

Crease Recovery

Flexural Rigidity (g.cm)

Drape Coefficient

Warp

Weft

Warp

Weft

H1

91

99

2.6

2.8

0.546

H2

90

97

1.3

1.1

0.487

H3

72

81

0.9

1.2

0.543

P1

92

98

1.5

1.1

0.485

P2

87

94

1.4

1.1

0.451

P3

80

86

0.9

1.0

0.616


Flexural rigidity depends on stiffness (bending length) and weight of fabric

Flexural rigidity of handloom H1 cotton fabric was higher with 2.6 g.cm in warp way and 2.8 g.cm in weft way compared to all other cotton fabrics. The lower flexural rigidity was found with handloom H3 and power loom P3 cottons. This might be due to the difference in yarn count among the fabrics used for different end uses.


The drape coefficient of handloom H1, H2 and H3 cottons was found to be 0.546, 0.487 and 0.543 respectively. Power loom cottons P1, P2 and P3 showed drape coefficient of 0.485, 0.451 and 0.616 respectively. The drape coefficient was found to be highest for power loom P3 cotton with 0.616 followed by 0.546 for H1. The least drape coefficient of 0.451was found with power loom P2 cotton. It is to be noted that cotton fabrics irrespective of yarn counts, showed higher drape coefficient.


The drapability of power loom P3 cotton was found to be stiffer even though the flexural rigidity was low as compared with other samples. This might be due to the compact weaving and even spreading of weft finer yarns. However, uneven weft weaving of handloom fabrics has shown better drapability and recovery from creases or wrinkles.


Mechanical properties

Mechanical properties express the performance of the fabrics. The mechanical properties of grey handloom and power loom cotton fabrics are furnished in Table 4.


Table 4. Mechanical Properties of Handloom and Power loom Cotton Fabrics

Fabric

Tear strength (N/tex)

Pilling (Grades)

Warp

Weft

H1

67.6

64.2

5

H2

48.8

33.2

5

H3

56.6

49.4

5

P1

74.2

61.6

4

P2

36.8

33

4

P3

69.6

51

5


Tear strength of warp power loom P1 cotton found to be highest with 74.2 N/tex followed by 69.6 N/tex for P3 power loom cotton. The weft tear strength was highest for handloom H1 with 64.2 N/tex and lowest for power loom P2 with 33 N/tex. The higher resistance to tear strength of powerloom P1 and P3 fabrics might be due to uniform and compact weaving.

Pilling resistance of handloom H1, H2 and H3 cotton fabrics was found to be excellent with grade 5 indicating no pill formation on the surface of the cottons. Power loom P1 and P2 cottons were graded 4, as slight pill formation was observed on their surfaces, which might be due to more and speedy abrasion during power loom weaving.


Comfort properties

Comfort properties of fabrics help to assess the liveliness of the material to the body in terms of absorption and breathability. The comfort properties of grey handloom and power loom cotton fabrics are displayed in Table 5.


Air permeability of handloom cotton fabrics ranged from 34.34 cm3/cm2/s to 92.35 cm3/cm2/s and that of power loom cotton fabrics was between 36.42 cm3/cm2/s to 98.12 cm3/cm2/s. Power loom P3 showed higher air permeability of 98.12 cm3/cm2/s followed by handloom H3 cotton with 92.35 cm3/cm2/s. The lowest permeability to air was observed with H1 (34.34 cm3/cm2/s) followed by P1 (36.42 cm3/cm2/s). It can be stated here that cotton fabrics with higher cover factors showed lower air permeability and vice versa. The interstices of the fabrics narrow down reducing the air spaces. Therefore lower air permeability was found.

 

Table 5. Comfort Properties of Handloom and Power loom Cotton Fabrics

Fabric

Air permeability

(cm3/cm2/s)

Water permeability

Wicking

Thermal Conductivity (CLO)

H1

34.34

80

0

0.79

H2

90.04

70

0

0.74

H3

92.35

70

0

0.64

P1

36.42

80

0

0.82

P2

48.77

70

0

0.81

P3

98.12

70

0

0.71


Handloom H1 and power loom P1 cotton fabrics showed slight resistance to water permeability by just wetting the face of the specimen and were rated as 80. However, handloom H2, H3 and power loom P2, P3 cottons were graded 70 as they exhibited partial wetting of the specimen face beyond spray points.


All the grey handloom and power loom cotton fabrics did not show any wickability even after 10 minutes and were graded zero. The grey state of the cottons failed in capillary action of water resulting in non-wetting and non-wickability in both warp and weft directions. It is to be noted here that the fabrics were not finished. As all the fabrics selected for study were in grey state, they had not undergone any preparation process to remove the cuticle and other impurities and improving absorption.


The thermal conductivity of handloom and power loom cottons are presented in tog values. The thermal resistance of handloom and power loom cottons ranged from 0.64 to 0.79 and 0.71 to 0.82 respectively. Handloom H1 and power loom P1 cotton fabrics exhibited higher thermal insulation of 0.79 and 0.82 respectively. The thicker fabrics showed higher thermal resistance and less conductivity to heat and vice versa.

Generally, it is noticed that the lower the yarn count, the higher the thermal resistance, lower the air permeability and lower the water permeability. Higher compactness and cover factor might have blocked the air spaces within the fabric structure of H1 and P1. The thermal conductivity of power loom fabrics was higher than in handloom fabrics irrespective of the type of the fabric which might be due to uniform weaving. Lower yarn count (cotton) facilitates lower thread count in fabrics due to yarn thickness and influence the air and water permeability.


Conclusion

This study exhibited improved geometrical, handle, comfort and mechanical properties of handloom cotton fabrics over power loom fabrics. Even though the warp and weft yarn counts and reed counts remained same for handloom and powerloom cotton fabrics, grey handloom cottons were found to be heavier and thicker with better cover factor than grey power loom fabrics.


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