Textile Notes: Different fabrics, different properties

 

Fashions fade, style is eternal.

-Yves Saint Lauren

Photo source: own painting

Based on their fiber and chemical structure, different fabrics show different properties; in terms of colorfastness, wash fastness, wrinkle resistance and etc. In other words, they show different behavior when you dye them, because they absorb dye differently or when you fold and wait, some of them wrinkle more than the others. To understand the idea behind, I recommend you to read last 2 posts, which cover the fiber types.

So let’s look in details!

Natural:

  • The most common fabric: Cotton

It is soft, so you feel comfortable in it.

Breathable. This means you will be cool in summer and warm in winter when you wear a cotton dress.

Machine washable. Easy care!

A disadvantage: wrinkle easily.

  • Linen

Stronger than cotton.

More breathable than cotton.

These 2 properties make it a great choice for bed sheets and summer clothes.

However it is not elastic and it wrinkles easily.

  • Every woman’s dream: Silk

Everybody knows that it is soft and comfortable. It is “silky” !

Interesting fact: It is the strongest natural fiber!

Easy to dye because of its high absorbency.

Not easy to care. Avoid the sunlight. Dry cleaning is always recommended.

  • Wool (cashmere and mohair are 2 different types of wool types of wool)

Most of them are soft.

Scratch and might cause allergies.

Breathable and the best choice of winter.

It is flame resistants.

Dirt resistant. So you do not need to wash them after every use.

Strong.

Should be careful while washing, you may cause garment to shrink. Dry cleaning is always recommended.

Synthetic:

  • Acrylic

It is light and soft.

Dyeing an acrylic fabric with a bright color is easy if you choose the right dye type.

It is flexible and wrinkle-resistant.

Oils, chemicals and sunlight do not affect this fabric like they affect the natural fabrics.

Easy care.

However, most of the time it is not comfortable to wear and it causes static.

  • Polyester

It is extremely strong and stretchable.

Thus it does not wrinkle and does retain the shape. It is a good choice for harsh outdoor activity apparel.

It is also not breathable like Nylon. So it is not a popular choice in hot temperatures.

Easy care. It dries quickly

  • Spandex

It is extremely elastic. It resists force better than rubber.

Strong and light.

Dyeable. (It does not need to be black).

Easy care. But be careful with chlorine-bleach.

  • Rayon

Quick Definition: Rayon is a regenerated cotton fabric. It means it is manufactured; however it is made from cellulose, which is a natural source, and it  has cotton properties.

It can imitate the feel and texture of silk or wool.

It is soft and smooth.

It is comfortable.

It wrinkles easily (like cotton, right!)

Be careful!! It does not melt but BURN. So always hand wash! ***

  • Nylon

 It is strong and durable.

Elastic. Stretches easily.

Dirt and chemical resistant.

Lighter than most of the fibers.

However it does not breath and does not absorb moisture. Thus it is not comfortable to wear in hot weather.

Machine washable and dry quickly. However it wrinkles easily.

Ironing might be an issue, be careful to keep it from melting. High heat might cause melting.

Blended Fabrics: These fabrics are the result of combining 2 different yarns together. The result will have the properties of both fibers and most of the time the characteristics will be improved. The blending ratio varies based on the properties you want (such as 67/33, 70/30, 50/50, 45/55, 52/48, 80/20 etc). There are many examples of this type of fibers and the most popular one os poly/cotton blends:

Combining Polyester and Cotton. As mentioned above, Cotton is comfortable(+), but it wrinkles(). On the other hand Polyester does not wrinkle(+) but not comfortable like cotton(). So, it is not a rocket science: the blended fabric will be a wrinkle-resistant. comfortable material. Voila!

65% polyester and 35% cotton is very common (65/35 poly/cotton).


Let’s take a look at H&M ‘s Cotton, Wool, Silk and Polyester products to see the difference:

100% Silk: Silk Top

100% Cotton: Cotton Cardigan

70% Wool, %30 CashmereCashmere-blend Sweater (this is an example of blended fabrics)

100% PolyesterBlouse

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