Fabric 101 – Synthetic Fibers

Fabric 101 – Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers are man-made and produced in a lab, typically made from plastics. Although there is nothing natural about synthetic fibers, they do serve a purpose. When combined with a natural material, even the smallest amount can contribute to increased durability and overall longevity. Synthetic fibers are less expensive, easy to clean, and can be manipulated to look like a natural fiber.

Polyester is known as a very stable yarn, as the strands are bonded together. Polyester yarns are used extensively in both the apparel and home furnishings industry. There is also industrial grade polyester fibers, which are used anywhere from car tire reinforcements to conveyor belts. It’s kind of crazy to think that the same fiber reinforcing the wheels on your car, may also be woven into your sofa.

  • Highly stain-resistant — only disperse dyes can be used to alter the color of a polyester fabric
  • High water, wind, and environmental resistant qualities
  • Less fire resistant and can melt

It is common for a polyester fiber to be spun together with a natural fiber, such as a cotton-poly blend. In this case, the fabric will be strong, wrinkle and tear-resistant, and shrinking will be reduced.

Nylon is resilient fabric with a silky texture. It is typically resistant to stains and holds color extremely well. Although it is a strong fiber, we typically see it used to blend with other fibers. The nylon fiber is a continuous filament, so it does not breath very well.

Acrylic was created as an alternative to wool, and now also cashmere. Acrylic is surprisingly soft and comfortable, and extremely durable. These fabrics hold color very well, resisting stains, wrinkles, and shrinkage.  Acrylic is actually harder to clean than wool, and it can pill over time.

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