UNDERSTANDING AND CARING FOR YOUR FABRICS
To understand textiles is to know how to care for your clothes. When you understand the characteristics of fabrics and how they work in design and style you will know what to look for when purchasing a garment, not only that, your clothing will last longer and maintain a brand new look for a long time
Textiles fall into different categories: Man made fibers, and natural fibers. It will be too detailed and tiresome to go into all the details of textiles and to be frank it is not necessary. The important thing is that you understand the effect fabric has on style and how to effectively care for your clothes so you get the optimum use.
The most popular fabrics are: wool, cotton, linen, silk, chiffon, lace, jersey, rayon, spandex (used for sportswear and swimsuits), metallic, denim. There are also blends of the above list fabric. Then you have the polyester and polyester blends.
Chiffon is a man made fabric suitable for formal and bridal wear. There are different weight chiffon the lighter more delicate and the crisp almost organdy like texture.
Lace is another man made fabric and has been around for centuries. In the past lace was only used for bridal dress and edgings. Today designers combine lace effectively with denim and other fabrics with splendid results.
Silk – way back in the day this delicate luxurious fabric was spun by worms, today however man has assisted these lil creatures with machinery and they have mixed this once pure delicately spun fabric with most fabrics including polyester. Silk has remained a popular fabric and is one of the most expensive. Silk scarves are a favourite in the wardrobe.
FABRIC & DESIGN
For a softer look, you have more options like: Cotton, Silk, Rayons, Chiffon, lace, jersey (although there are some jerseys that tailor well)
If you want a tailored look choose clothing made from Gabardine, Wool blend, Tweed, Polyester, Serge, Poplin
Taffeta and Organza will give a more crisp look.
The latest craze is denim. Denim has come a long way, it is not as stiff and uncomfortable as when it was first introduced, it is now wearer friendly and can be very versatile.
CARING FOR YOUR CLOTHES
When purchasing a garment it’s a good idea to check the fiber content label.
If you are a sewist, when in doubt check with the label on the bolt for the fiber content.
There are several type of fabric on the market today, however each fabric has a different characteristic and has to be cared for differently
If you follow the cleaning instructions on your clothing label you will get optimum wear and your garments will last for years and look good as new.
A few years ago I had this delicate chiffon dress that had watermarks so I took it to the cleaners to have it dried clean. The lady at the drycleaners told me “if we clean this for you it will be very costly, take your dress home soak it in luke warm water with some dishwasher soap for about half an hour then rinse and hang to dry”. I took her advise and it turned out beautifully. She told me to do the same process on my sweaters and other delicates. (Maybe she was upset with her employer and it was her last day on the job) whatever the reason I will be ever grateful for her advise.
You can also DIY dry cleaning at home. It will save you on your dry cleaning bill. You can clean your delicate wool sweaters in cold water. Put cold water in a basin and add a tablespoon of dishwasher liquid, allow to soak for half an hour, then squeeze a few times, rinse until water is clear, squeeze excess water out, do not rub or wring. Lay flat to dry.
You can follow the same process for chiffon, silk, lace, rayon, jersey and spandex. You can use warm water instead of cold for these fabrics and hang in the bathroom to dry.
It’s a good idea to invest in a steamer, especially for the jersey, chiffon or silk. Using an iron may stretch the fabric or you may not have a smooth finish,
If you are blessed to own one of the high tech washing machines, you can wash on the delicate cycle. Make sure to follow fabric instructions and the instructions on the washing machine.