Cotton, polyester and blended fabrics
von Marie Reike am Aug 31, 2022 | Lesezeit: 10 mins
Haven't we all stood in the shop or in front of the washing machine with the label on our new clothes in our hands and wondered how to wash them?
This is usually clear to us with fabrics such as cotton, and also with polyester, but with new wool, elastane, rayon and the like, it may no longer be a matter of course. Consequently, the question arises: What are these tissues anyway? Here is an excursion into the different materials from which the pieces that you can find in our shop are made.
What is cotton?
Cotton is made from plants, making it a natural fiber . Cotton, as the name suggests, washes on "trees". Well actually more of a shrub, but these shrubs grow as tall as real trees in some cases. (1,2)
Since cotton is a plant, the cotton must first be harvested from the bushes. The tufts of cotton are separated from the bush and then have to be separated from the remaining seeds and leaves. (1)
Once the cotton has been harvested, processing continues. Here, the fibers are first pressed into bales and then sent to a cotton spinning mill. Arriving at the cotton mills, the cotton bales are spun into cotton yarn. (1)
Then there is one final step, mercerizing. During mercerization, the cotton thread is treated with caustic soda. The caustic soda swells the cotton and makes it smoother. (1)
The cool thing about cotton: You can wash it super hot and dye it super easily! This makes it not only super hygienic, but also super versatile. (1)
If you look into any of your jeans products, you should see a high percentage of cotton on the label! In most cases around 100%.
What is polyester?
Polyester is almost the opposite of cotton. Polyester is a chemical fiber consisting of, let's get a little wild, polyethylene terephthalate. That's a long time for PET, the same material that PET bottles are made of. Polyethylene terephthalate is so popular because it is very robust, it has high tear and abrasion resistance. (1)
But polyester isn't just for use on its own. Polyester can also be combined with other fibres, cotton or wool. The result of the combination is stable and at the same time elastic fabric. Like cotton, polyester is easy to dye. (1.4)
Fabrics made from polyester include satin, chiffon and lurex. (5)
What is polyacrylic?
Like polyester, polyacrylic is a synthetic fiber . However, polyacrylic has a different appearance compared to polyester, it is bulkier. It is more similar in shape to wool and is often used together with it. (1.6)
What is polyamide?
Another poly fabric? Yes! Another poly! Polyamide is another synthetic fiber from which the well-known women's stockings/tights and various sportswear are made. Because polyamide is the fabric that many of you also know as nylon ! In the meantime, however, there are more polyamide fabrics than just nylon. (1)
What is elastane?
Elastane is a synthetic fiber that allows fabrics to stretch. It is added to fabrics to increase their stretchability, as the name suggests. You might know names like Lycra or Spandex. These are brands that sell elastane. (1.7)
What is fleece?
Fleece is a fabric made from polyester (1.8). The PET fibers for the fabric can also be obtained sustainably. For example from recycled PET bottles and other recycled plastic products (1).
This means that fleece can be produced sustainably. Of course, this isn't a must. The only way to be sure that the fleece sweater is sustainable without doing a lot of research is to buy it second hand. Like here: Fleece .
What is Cord?
Cord does not necessarily consist of the same fibers. Fibers used in the production of corduroy are: cotton, polyester, lycra and elastane. Cotton is the main component of corduroy. (1)
The look and feel of the cord fabric are created by the specific processing of the fibers . Because corduroy is a hollow weft fabric. This means that corduroy is made with one thread more than other fabrics, and it is precisely this thread that is cut open during processing and ensures the specific feel of the corduroy fabric. (1.9)
Similar to velvet, corduroy has the property that the fabric feels different depending on the direction in which you stroke it . This is due to the specific stitch direction . (1.9)
what is velvet
Velvet is also made of different materials. This includes cotton, but also silk and other synthetic fibers . The special surface structure of the split material is due to the additional threads that are incorporated. These small protruding fibers are called pile. (10)
What is silk?
Now it's getting really fancy! Silk is made from the cocoons of a caterpillar. This caterpillar is called, how could it be otherwise: silk moth. But as if that wasn't special enough, it needs a specific species of silk moth, namely the mulberry moth. Like cotton, silk is a natural product due to its natural origin.(1,3)