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Choosing Ideal Dress Making Fabrics

Apr 3, 2008
In dress designing your basic material is the cloth which, by means of your artistic and creative genius, you intend to change into a glamorous costume.

There are a great variety of materials on the market
today. Each is especially suited for specific uses, each has certain advantages and drawbacks. Only experience will tell which will suit your purpose best. To help you choose what you need for your work following is a list of material types and

Natural Fibers, Animal, and Vegetable:

Wool - hair fibers of various animals. Warm, absorbent, and wrinkle resistant. Should be preshrunk before being cut. Wool should be steam pressed with a cloth, never apply iron directly on material. Wool blended with synthetic fibers tends to pull. Some wools can be washed. Others have to be dry cleaned.

Cotton - fluff from the matured seed pod of the cotton plant. Strong and long wearing. Is sometimes blended with other fibres. Can be treated to become wrinkle resistant. Should be preshrunk before cutting. Can be pressed with hot iron while damp. Most cottons are washable. Comes in a variety of finishes and weights from sheer to heavy, and crisp and stiff to soft and clinging. Woven or knit.

Silk - Unwound cocoon of the silk worm. Lustrous, naturally resilient, drapes well. Often blended with other fibers. Can be dry cleaned or washed. Should be pressed on wrong side.

Linen - fibers of the flax plant. Cool and absorbent. Wrinkles excessively unless treated with crease resistant. Washable. Should be preshrunk before cutting. Must be pressed while very damp.

Synthetic or Man-Made Fibers:

Rayon, Acetate, Triacetate - from cellulose. They come in a variety of finishes and weaves. Can be dry cleaned or washed. Must be pressed with a cool iron only. Cut edges tend to ravel very easily.

Acrylic, Modacrylic - Acrilan, Orlon, Dynel - from acrylonitrile. Warm, bulky, and light weight. Moth resistant. Washable.

Nylon - from coal and water. Tough and elastic. Moth resistant.

Polyester - Dacron - Used mostly in blends. Wash and wear type. Dries quickly. Cannot be eased in or shrunk during construction.

Metallic - Lurex, Mylar - Yarn made from metal foil covered with plastic film. Usually woven or knitted in with other yarns.

Before deciding on any fabric - there are certain points to be checked: Find out whether it has to be dry cleaned or whether it can be washed. Has it been preshrunk? Is it color fast? Is the grain straight and are the prints on straight grain?

All fabrics, after they have been loomed, are treated in various ways so that they will have special characteristics. They can be made moth proof, water repellent, crease resistant, fire proof, shrink proof, given insulating properties, and textured. Each of these processes have special process names and are labeled so for identification.

In addition to these materials there are also other materials used especially for shaping. They can be either woven or non woven. Shaping materials are used to give added support for correct fit and to add firmness and body to fashion details, as in tailored clothes and in bouffant fashions.

Trade names for these shaping materials which come in various weights for use with materials of corresponding weight are: Formite-Evershape, Pellon, Interlon, Veriform-Crisp, Siri-firm, and Sirisoft, Key back. Acron, Armo, and Hymo are hair canvas materials and are usually used in tailoring wool. Other materials used for this purpose are organdy, muslin, China silk, net, marquisette and a number of other materials. Shaping materials are available in widths of 25 to 49 inches.

Now you know the fabrics available, you can begin by selecting the one most suited to your needs.
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