First aid for fabrics and compositions

VIS, PES, EL...pardon? Have you spotted these abbreviations on our fabrics page too? Are you totally puzzled though as to what it all means exactly? Fabric compositions may seem like Greek at first sight. That’s definitely the case when you get started on a new sewing project. That's because often the first thing you need to figure out is the right fabric for your project. And that’s why we’re giving you this brief explanation of all the abbreviations here. That way you’re all ready for your next ‘fabric shopping’ trip. 

When fabric weights are mentioned, what that means is the density of the fabric's weave. You can figure out whether the fabric is thick or thin by looking at the length-width ratio, which is expressed in g/m2.

VIS – Viscose

Viscose is a synthetic fibre but is most closely related to natural cotton fibre. Like cotton, it also easily absorbs moisture due to its cellulose fibres, and which likewise makes it the perfect fabric for dying.  This airy fabric is also great for summer items such as the Riva jumpsuit. What’s more, the colour maintains its vibrancy. This glossy fabric has a subtle drape and is mostly frequently used in synthetic silk and lining fabrics. Viscose is also commonly used in fibre and fabric blends, for example, in crepe or jersey. It's a fabric that creases easily, so when washing set to a slow spin cycle and use a delicates programme. Is your fabric 100% viscose? Then whatever you do, don’t throw it into the dryer! 

PA – Polyamide/Nylon

Nylon (a type of polyamide) is one of the most successful synthetic fibres. This fabric is most famous in the fashion world for nylon stockings, which were introduced in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair – just two years after the fabric was invented. When used in clothing, polyamide is usually used in a blend for swimwear, lingerie, sportswear and coat lining due to its versatile functionality. Polyamide can also often be found in wool, cotton or viscose blends to create a stiffer fabric. Polyamide is heat sensitive. Be careful not to wash at high temperatures. Washing at temperatures up to 40 °C is recommended. A plus: you'll pull this fabric out of your washing machine virtually wrinkle-free. 

PES – Polyester

PES may just be the most well-known (synthetic) fibre. You might know it by its more common name: polyester. That’s because polyester can often be found in other fibre blends, such as wool, viscose or cotton. It also means that you'll spot it most in airy summer clothes like the Arlette skirt. Keep in mind: compared to cotton and viscose, polyester absorbs almost no moisture. However, that also means that it dries quite quickly. Don’t tumble dry polyester garments and iron as little as possible. The textile is delicate, so don’t wash at temperatures above 40 °C. 

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CO – cotton

The natural classic: cotton. It’s been used for centuries, is strong and breathtaking. Literally, because cotton is thefabric for absorbing moisture, making it perfect of those sultry summer days. However, that does mean that it takes a fair amount of time to dry. Would you like a bit more elasticity and no wrinkling? If so, opt for a blend that's mainly cotton, but has a smidgen of a synthetic thrown in, like polyester. Cotton can be ironed wet and tumble dried – washing instructions vary based on type. 

Did you know that corduroy was originally made of cotton? It’s absolutely perfect for making the Bertha trousers. 

EL - Elastane/Lycra

Keen on stretchy form-fitting clothing? Then elastane, also known as Lycra or Spandex could be what you’re looking for. You'll only find 100% elastane in the elastic bands in underwear, for example, but not in clothing. For clothing, this synthetic is always found in blends, where it makes the fabric more elastic and softer. Fabrics containing Lycra are perfect for making a pencil skirt like the Pina – it's easy to slide into andflatters your figure. Don’t tumble dry or iron elastane. Don’t wash at temperature above 40 °C.

LI - Linen

Had enough of cotton and polyester? This natural fibre made from flax may conjure up associations with an easily-creased fabric that lacks elasticity; however, linen also has several advantages. Linen not only looks chic and sophisticated – it’s also dirt-resistant. Not only that, but it’s soft on your skin and is a typically airy summer fabric that cool breezes can easily waft through, making it super comfortable. Linen is also produced more sustainably than cotton, which also makes it eco-friendly as well as high-quality. All these advantages should make you get over those wrinkles pretty quickly. A short Julia kimono is perfect for linen fabrics or maybe try a blend with a synthetic, for those who prefer a little stretch. Don't tumble dry linen and iron at a low temperature. Avoid steam. 100% linen garments can be washed up to 60 °C. 

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Arlette