You are on page 1of 12

A lot of you are probably familiar with some of the important characteristics of the common textile fibers.

However, others may not understand the difference between manufactured fibers. For example, do you know the advantages of say, acetate, acrylic and polyester? When working with or selling textile products, it is important to understand the characteristics of the fibers used in the fabrications you deal with. All fibers are not the same, and their properties and advantages can vary widely. o help you better understand fibers, the following summari!es the important characteristics and end uses of the ma"or fibers used in apparel and home fashion.

1. Acetate #ellulosic$based, from wood pulp or cotton linters. %& #haracteristics • 'uxurious appearance • #risp or soft hand • Wide range of colors( dyes and prints well • )xcellent drapeability and softness • *hrink, moth, and mildew resistant • 'ow moisture absorbency, relatively fast drying • +o pilling problem, little static problem • ,ost acetate garments re-uire dry$cleaning .& ,a"or )nd /ses Apparel$ 0louses, dresses, linings, special occasion apparel, Home Fashion $ 1raperies, upholstery, curtains, bedspreads Acetate is a 2dry clean only2 fiber. However, again, read the label, because many of the new acetate circular knits, which have been out on the market for a few years, are hand washable. *o far, there is no washable woven acetate available in the marketplace.

4& #omments here are a couple of important characteristics to keep in mind. Acetate takes color extremely well, and it5s also very soft and drapeable. For the past %6 years, #elanese has been blending acetate with a wide variety of fibers. hey have also been experimenting with different knitting and weaving techni-ues, which has resulted in the development of a variety of fabrics, that have become suitable for many markets. 7rior to these developments, the ma"or uses for acetate in apparel were as a liner in coats, "ackets, bla!ers, etc., and as a ma"or fabric in special occasion dresses, because the acetate velvets, crepes, taffetas, and satins were ideal for this market. 0ut because of the new fabric developments, acetate has been elevated up to the designer level with many ma"or designers like 8eorgio Armani and 9scar 1e la :enta using acetate in their lines. ;& #are

& . lustrous. . twice as strong as cotton • Hand$washable or dry$cleanable • #risp hand • ailors well • Absorbent • 1yes and prints well • 'ightweight to heavyweight • +o static or pilling problems • Fair abrasion resistant . <f laundering is indicated. draperies.& 3 3. > 'inen fabrics may need fre-uent pressing. napkins and placemats. a vegetable fiber. Linen +atural. %& #haracteristics • #omfortable • 8ood strength. > White linens should be dried in the sun. sheets. 0e sure to check the label. bedspreads. "ackets. skirts. 3 2. upholstery linens and decorative linens.. > #ircular knits should be laid flat to dry. 3 4& #are > *ome linens are washable. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label.ade from flax. dry cleaning is recommended for drapery linens. > 8enerally speaking. table linens. > 7ress while damp on the wrong side with a cool iron.& ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. > 1o not soak colored items. and linen apparel can be washed easily and become softer with use. *ome knits are washable. > Washable household linen. from angora goats. such as nail polish remover and perfumes containing such solvents. shirts. pants. suits. blouses.& Note= Acetate is adversely affected by acetone and other organic solvents. handkerchiefs. unless treated for crease resistance ?7ermanent press and soil release finishes are now being used effectively on @AB linenC4AB polyester tablecloths. if to help them to keep their whiteness.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ dresses. upholstery. strong fiber • 'uxurious • *oft hand . > 1o not twist or wring out the garment. while others are dry clean only.ost acetate garments should be dry$cleaned. separates.Home Fashion $ curtains. %& #haracteristics • 'ong. Mohair +atural. childrenswear. dish towels. use the following guide= > Hand wash in warm water with mild suds. if finishing the right side use a pressing cloth.

3 4. accessories. socks.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ coats. carpet backing. Asics Eapan has developed a swimsuit made of a blend of polyolefin and 'ycra. and odor$resistant • High insulation characteristics • :esists deterioration from chemicals. good insulator 1yes well. %& #haracteristics • 'ightweight. resilient • *tain$. rot and weather Fast drying • High wickability • #olor fast. carpets. lining fabrics. throws. "eans. draperies.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ activewear. his is because. this is probably the one that is least familiar to you. suits. sportswear. since its development in$made. it5s also being tested is in the swimwear market. :esists fading . as the official swimsuit for the Eapanese 9lympic *wim eam. mildew. upholstery. it floats • *trong • Abrasion resistant.& #are . *o. upholstery.• • • • • . washing and drying need to be done at low temperature • +on$allergenic . polyolefin has been used almost exclusively in the home furnishings area and the high performance activewear market.ost stains can be readily be removed by wiping. underwear.& . ?*wimmers will try anything to cut a milli$ second off their timesF& . . this is a fiber that you may be seeing more of going forward. because colors are incorporated during fiber forming stage • *pills can be readily wiped up • *tatic and pilling can be a problem • <roning. socks. $mat and $pill -ualities. and mountain climbing apparel. sunlight$. loungewear. warms. And. 0ut. within the last year producers of this fiber have begun to make in$roads into the mainstream apparel market. wall coverings. rugs. for such things as backpacking. heir main reason for selecting polyolefin is that it5s the least absorbent of all the man$ made fibers. and it5s the only fiber that floats. <n fact. using lukewarm water and detergent. <t is now being blended with cotton for use in the denim market. static$. sweaters.& . Polyolefin(Olefin) .ost items can be washed or dry$cleaned.Home Fashion $ blankets. lightest fiber. Home Fashion $ indoor and outdoor carpets. 3 4& #omments 9f all the fibers. dresses. > . perspiration. canoeing. furniture and bedding construction fabrics.ost resilient natural textile fiber 'ightweight. brilliant colors +on$crush.

<f machine drying. /se a color safe bleach only. warm with a wool$like hand • 1yes to bright colors with excellent fastness • 9utstanding wickability • . soft. *o. .achine washable. it stretches over A66B. Acrylic .a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ articles where stretch is desired= athletic apparel. Although it has poor strength. belts.& #are > Hand or machine wash in lukewarm water. the excellent stretch of spandex compensates for the fact that it5s a weak$made. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. And. bathing suits. foundation garments. it totally revolutioni!ed the swimwear and foundations industry. iron rapidly and don5t leave the iron in one place too long. Spandex . /se a low temperature setting on the iron. > 1o not iron. socks. when it was first introduced in %DAD. > <f ironing is re-uired. and is 1u7ont5s brand name for its spandex fiber. G wrinkles . > 1rip dry. the excellent stretch of spandex compensates for the fact that it5s a weak fiber. *o. *$made.& 3 5. > :inse thoroughly. -uick drying • :esilient( retains shape( resists shrinkage. lotions or detergents • +o static or pilling problems . slacks. more durable than rubber • *oft.& 3 . ski pants. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. 3 4& #omments 'ycra is the most familiar spandex fiber. %& #haracteristics • 'ightweight • #an be stretched over A66B without breaking • Able to be stretched repetitively and still recover original length • Abrasion resistant • *tronger. it should be line dried or tumbled dried with gentle or no heat. the excellent stretch of spandex compensates for the fact that it5s a weak fiber. An interesting fact about spandex is that it was developed as a substitute for rubber. use low temperature setting. it stretches over A66B. > 1o not use chlorine bleach on any fabric containing spandex. %& #haracteristics • 'ight$weight. perspiration. it stretches over A66B.Although it has poor strength. hosiery. smooth and supple • :esistant to body oils. Although it has poor strength.& .> <f fabric is machine washed.

throws. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. cellulosic$based. sportswear. outdoor furniture. blouses.& #are 'yocell garments may be either machine washable and dryable or drycleanable. suits. Acrylic is comfortable to wear. <t is also machine washable and dryable. smooth or shake out garment and let dry on a non$rust hangar. :ead the . Lyocell . and a new brand name that you may have seen recently is encel:. pants. Although acrylic has traditionally been a fallCwinter$made.& . . upholstery. his fiber is cellulosic. > When machine washing. . :emove from dyer as soon as garments are dry. *weaters and circular knits should be dried flat. awnings. sportswear.& .onsanto5s product development department has recently developed some light weight circular knits and blends which lend themselves to trans$seasonal dressing as well. socks. and it is very similar to rayon in appearance. skirts. > <f ironing is re-uired.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ sweaters. *tatic electricity can be reduced by using s fabric softener in every third or fourth washing. cotton$like or blended appearance )xcellent pleat retention :esistant to moths.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ dresses. and it takes color beautifully. %& #haracteristics • )xcellent strength • Washable • *hrink$ and wrinkle$resistant • *oft hand • )xcellent drape • Absorbent • 1yes and prints well .achine dry at low temperature. it is easy care and is machine washable or dry cleanable. use warm water setting and add a fabric softener during the final rinse cycle. fleece. "ackets. he ma"or difference between lyocell and rayon is that lyocell is much more durable and has a much stronger wet strength. use moderately warm iron. . oil and chemicals *uperior resistance to sunlight degradation *tatic and pilling can be a problem . 3 4& #omments his is the newest cellulosic fiber.• • • • • Flexible aesthetics for wool$like. Het. rugsCfloor coverings 3 4& #omments Acrylic is a soft drapeable fabric which provides warmth without being heavy. with a wonderful resemblance to wool. > Wash delicate items by hand in warm water.& #are Acrylic garments may be washed or dry cleaned. childrenswearHome Fashion $ 0lankets. circular knit apparel. <t feels like wool.& 3 !. 8ently s-uee!e out water. > .

and for this reason it5s used in garments that take a great deal of hard wear. > o minimi!e static electricity use a dyer sheet when machine drying. *o. Although nylon is a very strong fiber. he most popular fabric blend used in swimwear today is nylon and 'ycra ?or spandex&. activewear. windbreakers. low moisture absorbency • #an be precolored or dyed in a wide range of colors • :esistant to damage from oil and many chemicals • *tatic and pilling can be a problem • 7oor resistance to continuous sunlight . use a moderately warm iron. intimate apparel. "ackets. :emove from dryer as soon as the garment is dry > <f ironing is re-uired. she may buy as many as two or three at a time in order to get herself through "ust one season. 9ther $ 'uggage. skirts.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ swimwear. ski and snow apparel. worn out swimsuits being returned because the fabric has wore out. . hat5s because the customer has learned through experience that most swimsuits. his is because she has come to know what to expect from these fibers. <n addition. sportswear. upholstery. 3 4& #omments +ylon is one of the strongest of all fibers. sleeping bags. umbrellas. in many cases. bedspreads. Het. hosiery. life vests. %& #haracteristics • 'ightweight • )xceptional strength • 8ood drapeability • Abrasion resistant • )asy to wash • :esists shrinkage and wrinkling • resilient. foundation garments.& 3 ". > /se warm water and add a fabric softener to the final rinse cycle. the 'ycra ?or spandex& breaks down from exposure to chlorine in pool water. like panty hose and swimwear. rugs.& . there probably aren5t a lot of old. when a customer shops for swimwear. childrenswear.achine wash and dry at low temperature. > o minimi!e static electricity use a dyer sheet when machine drying. blouses.ost items made from nylon can be machined washed and tumbled dried at low temperatures. tents. pleat retentive • Fast drying. if worn a lot. curtains.& #are . . > .$made. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. won5t last for much more than a season or two. draperies. Nylon . back packets. one of it5s unfavorable characteristics is that it has poor resistance to prolonged exposure to the sun. raincoats. > Washable lyocell has the strength and ease of care of other easy$care fabrics.label. Home Fashion $ carpets. pants.

3 4& #omments 9ne of the ma"or characteristics of rayon. *o.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ 0louses. . the fiber producers discovered that they could create washability in rayon by putting certain finishes on the surface of the fabric after it was knitted or woven. labeled 2dry clean only2. cool water. and are therefore 2dry clean only2. slip covers.& #are . *o. First the garment can shrink tremendously. but some types of fabric and garment construction are such that they can be hand or machine washed. also called viscose. it actually loses 46B to A6B of its strength. linings. draperies. 0ut this also added to the price. *o. because when rayon is wet.ost rayon garments should be dry$cleaned. today many rayons in the marketplace remain untreated. blankets. or a printed pattern may bleed. sportshirts. is washed. use the following as a guide= . "ackets. in order to get the maximum life out of your washable rayon garment. is the best. a risk is taken. sportswear. sheets. <t5s very important to read the labels. And.ost of the washable rayon garments today are labeled 2hand wash. upholstery. However. millinery.& 3 #.> <f ironing is re-uired. and one of three things may happen. cellulosic$based from wood pulp. work clothes. no pilling problems • Fabric can shrink appreciably if washing dry$clean$only rayon • Washable or dry cleanable. lingerie. %& #haracteristics • *oft and comfortable • 1rapes well • Highly absorbent • 1yes and prints well • +o static. use a warm iron. it5s best to hand wash and dripChang dry . *econd. that doesn5t mean that all rayons are washable. Home Fashion $ bedspreads. curtains. sometimes as much as two or three si!es.& . centers around the care of the fabric. drip dry or dry flat2. table cloths. And third. and make the customer aware that "ust because he or she may have purchased a washable rayon last week. it5s important that these directions are followed. slacks. hand washing. :ead the labelF . and tumbling of the dryer will beat the garment against the side of the washer and dryer. and shorten the life of the rayon garment. here5s also something important to remember when caring for the washable rayons. the garment may fade. For those of you who have been around rayon a lot. the fabric may lose its soft hand. For washable items.$made. you know that there are both washable and 2dry clean only2 rayons in the garments that you sell. eventually this causes the fiber to break down. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. he rayon that was once soft and drapeable may become stiff and harsh. dresses. Why are there both washable and non$washable rayons? 9riginally rayon was a 2dry clean only2 fiber. $ayon . like the label says. he constant agitation of the washer. And. suits. Anytime a rayon garment.

& . > 0etween wearings. 8ently s-uee!e suds through the fabric and rinse in lukewarm water. > <f ironing is needed.achine$washable. %& #haracteristics • #omfortable • *oft hand • Absorbent • 8ood color retention. particularly where pleat retention is important 3 4& #omments his is the only man$made fiber discussed today which is not produced in the united *tates. %& #haracteristics • 'uxurious hand • )xcellent drapeability • :esilient • )xcellent pleat retention • Washable or dry$cleanable • +o pilling problem • #an have static problem . skirts. :ayon sweaters should be laid flat to dry. sportswear. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. 'otton +atural. <f finishing on the right side is re-uired.& 3 1%. a high temperature setting may be used. a press cloth should be used.& 3 11. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ dresses. > *mooth or shake out the article and place on a non$rust hanger to dry.$made. . robes. &riacetate . . > 7ress the article while damp on the wrong side with the iron at a moderate setting.& #are > 7leated garments are best hand laundered. prints well • .ost other garments containing %66B t riacetate can be machine washed. However. he ma"or difference is that triacetate is washable. > Articles containing triacetate re-uire little care due mainly to the fiber5s resistance to high temperature.> /se mild lukewarm or cool suds. dry$cleanable • 8ood strength • 1rapes well • )asy to handle and sew . both the appearance and properties of triacetate are very similar to those of acetate. rayon articles may be pressed with a cool iron. 1o not wring or twist the article.

it was a polyester microfiber. separates.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ Wide range of wearing apparel= blouses. there are also nylon microfibers that have become important in the pantyhose market.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ hosiery. towels. > However. cotton fabric can be treated with a wrinkle resistant finish to create a more resilient fabricCgarment. hosiery. childrenswear. <t can withstand high temperatures. intimate apparel. separates. or cold. *o they5re comfortable to wear. . Home Fashion $ curtains. sheets. And. rain and cold . Home Fashion $ curtains. fabric may need fre-uent pressing. shirts. towels. draperies. blouses. #otton will take much longer to dry than less absorbent fibers. %& #haracteristics • /ltra fine ?less than %. 3 4& #are > #otton can be easily laundered. table cloths. > A higher heat setting is needed in the dryer to dry cotton. throws. menswear. polyester and rayon. rainwear. nylon.. raincoat manufacturers have become big users of polyester microfibers. he label will tell you if this finish has been applied. upholstery. and acrylic microfibers. :ather. ties. skirts.& . sweaters. dry cleanable • *hrink$resistant • High strength ?except :ayon& • )xcellent pleat retention • <nsulates well against wind. For this reason. draperies. and then weave it or knit it into a very high -uality fabric constructions. suits. napkins. . 9riginally. when 1u7ont introduced the first microfiber in %DJD. neckwear. > *ince cotton fibers are fairly inelastic cotton fabrics may wrinkle easily. which allows perspiration to pass through.& #are . swimwear. outerwear. 9ne of the important characteristics of microfiber fabrics is that they can be woven so tightly that the fabric can5t be penetrated by wind. comforters. "ackets.icrofibers also have a wicking ability. activewear. Micro (i)er* . activewear. rain.& 3 12. and does not scorch easily ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. it is a technology that has been developed to produce an ultra$fine fiber. However. > Any good detergent can be used to wash cotton. sportswear. rayon microfibers. swimwear.icro$fibers is the only fiber that5s really not a fiber unto itself. table mats. pants. ?boiling water does not hurt the fiber&.& . scarves. dresses. today in addition to polyester microfibers. 3 4& #omments . finer than the most delicate silk • )xtremely drapeable • Iery soft. bedspreads.6 dpf&. > #otton can be ironed with a hot iron. blankets. dresses. luxurious hand with a silken or suede touch •$made= available in acrylic. sheets.

the durability of the blended fabric improves and. upholstery. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. wrinkle resistant. floor coverings. 3 4& #omments his is probably the fiber that you5re most familiar with. like all the other man$made fibers. "ackets.& 3 14. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. nylon and polyester microfibers are machine washable. because of the over$ saturation of polyester . Polye*ter . fiber fill. Sil+ +atural. > <f ironing is needed. shirts. of all the man$made fibers. some consumers have ac-uired a kind of negative perception about the fiber. but also for consumers. stain removal can be a problem • *tatic and pilling problems . animal fiber ?silk worm&. rainwear. in some cases. draperies. his is true. <n addition. > /se warm water and add a fabric softener to the final rinse cycle > . %& #haracteristics • *trong • #risp. not only for manufacturers and designers. dresses. use a moderately warm iron > .& . suits. when polyester is blended with other dry$clean only fibers. %& #haracteristics • *oft or crisp hand • 'uxurious . /nfortunately.ost items made from polyester can be dry$cleaned.& 3 13. sportswear.& #are . 0ut. excellent pleat retention ?if heat set& • Abrasion resistant • :esistant to most chemicals • 0ecause of its low absorbency. if the percentage of polyester is high$made.ost items made from polyester can be machine washed and dried. machine dryable or drycleanable > Follow the instructions for washing fabrics consisting of these individual fibers.6 to 46 years ago. new developments in polyester are beginning to create a new attitude towards the fiber. the fabrics can even be made washable. blouses. what5s exciting today is that.> Acrylic. bedding.achine dry at low temperature setting and remove articles as soon as the tumbling cycle is complete. or rayon. Hou are aware that it5s the best wash$and$wear fiber.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ essentially every form of clothing. acetate. soft hand • :esistant to stretching and shrinkage • Washable or dry$cleanable • Kuick drying • :esilient. childrenswear Home Fashion $ curtains. separates. like wool. . lingerie. pants.

& 3 15. /se a damp sponge for knits and finer fabrics. > 0rush wool to remove surface soil.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ sweaters. upholstery. Home Fashion $ carpets. :ead the labelF > 1ry cleaning is generally preferred. childrenswear. draperies. pants. skirts. soft hand • Iersatile • 'ightweight • 8ood insulator • Washable • Wrinkle$resistant • Absorbent • )asy to dye . no pilling problem 9nly fair abrasion resistance 7oor resistance to prolonged exposure to sunlight . . blankets. pants. silk should be sealed against light.$hour rest between wearings.& . upholstery. > Fold knits. suits. draperies. 3 4& #are 9nly pre$washed silk is washable. scarves. with mild soap and lukewarm water. "ackets.& .• • • • • • • 1rapes and tailors well hinnest of all natural fibers 1yes and prints well Hand$washable or dry$cleanable 'ittle problem with static. %& #haracteristics • #omfortable • 'uxurious. since laundering detergent and dyes in other clothes may adversely affect silk fabric. > :efresh wool garments -uickly after wearing or unpacking by hanging them in a steamy . Animal fiber. dresses. "ackets. > #hlorine bleach should never be used on silk. air and insects.ool +atural. scarves. Home Fashion $ curtains. careful handwashing is permissable. pants. coats. loungewear. > For items without linings and without embellishments attached. > For washable silk. skirts. 3 4& #are > 8ive wool garments a .. ties. Hang on shaped or padded hangers. <n general. ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. > For long$time storage.a"or )nd /ses Apparel $ dresses. wool fibers will shed wrinkles and return to their orginal shape > )mpty pockets. remove belts and hang with closures !ipped and buttoned. hosiery. shirts. blouses. blouses. follow the care instructions carefully. leaving lots of space.

dry the garment at room temperature away from heat.& . ?For specific instruction refer to the garment5s sewn$in care label. > <f wool gets wet. /se the wool setting. Avoid pressing wool totally dry. > :emove spots and stains promptly. brush with the nap. press on the reverse side of the fabric.oisture from the steam will remove wrinkles. <f there5s a nap. 7revent imprinting inside detail by placing a piece of brown paper or tissue paper under folds. and especially before storing. .bathroom. 'ower and lift the iron. When necessary to press on the right side. > Leep moths away by storing wool with fresh cedar blocks. use a press cloth to avoid a shine. don5t slide it back and forth. > 1ry clean once a season?or when stained&. seams or darts.When ossible. > Always steam when pressing wool.