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What is overlapping? 



Overlapping occurs when something extends over or past another, overlap refers to the specific area shared created by this structure.


In biology, overlapping occurs when individual plates or scales slide or shift past each other such as the scales on a fish.  

Overlapping in biology 

Overlapping in textiles

In textiles, these overlapping structures can be observed in examples such as, smocking and pleating.  However, there are several techniques for creating overlapping textile structures including during the manufacturing process or post-production manipulation of fabrics. 


Perhaps the most common overlap surface in the textile sector is achieved using sequins or other types of embellishment arranged in an overlapping configuration. This technique involves securing a single point of pre-cut piece of rigid plastic film (or other material) to the surface of a cloth via stitching. Multiple individual embellishments are secured in the same way in a configuration that ensures overlap.


The primary use of these fabrics is aesthetic; the mechanism has more recently been applied to introduce switchable image or colour features determined by the visible side of the sequin. Stroking the surface of the textile changes the visible side of the sequin and the resulting visual appearance. 

Other techniques that can create overlapping structure include:  


a surface effect on a fabric formed by tufts or loops of yarn that stand up from the body of the fabric.  


a fibrous surface produced on a fabric or felt by raising in which part of the fibre is lifted from the basic structure   

Disco Dress

Overlapping aids

Resource Efficiency

Resource Longevity

Consider the pangolin…  

Scales protect fish and reptiles from attack by their predators which usually involves being grabbed with sharp claws or bitten. Mammals typically evade predators by fleeing. Therefore, being light and fast is a benefit when being stalked by a lion. However, the pangolin is one of very few mammals who have evolved a flexible dermal armour for protection against predators, such as lions. 

The pangolin dermal armour is composed of overlapping scales organised in a hexagonal pattern; each scale is positioned in the centre of said pattern both partially covering three lower scales and being covered by three upper scales. This means that, even when the animal is rolled into its characteristic ball during attack, the entire surface of his body remains covered and protected by the scales. 

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