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Fabric Guide

ACETATE
Often blended with rayon, acetate is a synthetic fiber used for luxurious fabrics such as taffeta and satin.

Two Swiss brothers, Drs. Camille and Henri Dreyfus, began chemical research in a shed behind their father’s house in Basel, Switzerland. In 1905, Camille and Henri developed a commercial process to manufacture cellulose acetate, a compound that seemed to offer a broad and untapped commeprcial potential.

The Dreyfus brothers initially focused on cellulose acetate film, which was then widely used in celluloid plastics and motion picture film. By 1913, Camille and Henri’s studies and experiments had produced excellent laboratory samples of continuous filament acetate yarn. The first commercial production of acetate fiber in the United States was in 1924 by the Celanese Corporation.

Most acetate garments should be dry cleaned.

ACRYLIC
Acrylic is typically used as a substitute for wool and is a generic name for a synthetic fiber derived from polyacrylonitrile. The first commercial production of the wool-like acrylic fiber in the United States was in 1950 by E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc.

Acrylic garments may be dry cleaned.
[see also MICROFIBER]

ANGORA
Angora rabbit fiber is a relative newcomer in the history of human civilization.

Although French Angora rabbits were initially kept as curious pets by royalty, it was the French, calling them “lapins de soie” (silk rabbits), who first saw the commercial possibilities of this luxuriously long silky fiber. And in Germany, the Angora rabbit was known as the “menschenheilkaninchen” – the mystical magical human healing rabbit — because of the reputed effectiveness of clothing made from its fiber to remedy the pain of arthritis and rheumatism by keeping muscles and joints warm and dry.

For proper care of angora garments, professional dry cleaning is recommended. Proper storage of angora sweaters and garments is also recommended.

BATISTE
Cotton batiste is a lightweight, sheer, delicate fabric in a plain weave. Similar to cotton lawn, but thicker. Batiste has a very delicate hand. It has a graceful drape, and is often mercerized to add luster.

Victorian-era summer and sash dresses were often made of batiste. Antique garments of this vintage were often trimmed with batiste pleats, ruffles, fringes, tassels, beads, and passementeries.

Batiste lace and garments may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique clothing and lace are available for museums and individuals.

BEADS AND SEQUINS
Since ancient times, when Egyptian kings wore ceremonial clothing decorated with sequins and beads, ornamented clothes have required a level of care consummate with their superior quality. Since 2900 BC, titles of “chief washer” and “washer to the pharaoh” are known.

Beaded and sequined garments may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique clothing is also recommended for museums and individuals.

BROCADE
Brocade is a lavish silk fabric with a raised design and a jacquard weave that often has gold or silver threads woven in. Brocade motifs may be of flowers, foliage, scrollwork, pastoral scenes, or other designs. Generally reputed to have been developed from the Latin name “brocade,” which means to figure.

Brocade may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique clothing and brocade are available for museums and individuals.

CALICO
A printed cotton cloth superior to percale. Calicoes were first imported into Europe from India during the Renaissance and have since been manufactured in both Europe and the United States. Calico was especially popular in America during the 19th century. Designs are often geometric in shape, but mostly exhibit designs of birds, trees, and flowers. Used in dresses, aprons, and patchwork quilts.

Most calico garments should be dry cleaned.

CAMEL HAIR
The under-hair of the Bactrian species of the Chinese and Mongolian desert camels is lightweight, lustrous, and soft. It ranges from a light tan to a brownish-black color. Although it costs less and wears better when blended with wool, all-wool camel hair is not as lustrous and is spongy. Used in coats, women’s suits, sports coats, sweaters, some blankets, and put in some Oriental rugs.

For proper care of camel hair garments, professional dry cleaning is recommended. Proper storage of camel hair garments is also recommended.

CASHMERE
Cashmere as a fiber has been known in the Western world since Roman times, but only came to prominence in the last two centuries as trade between East and West developed. Known as the fibre of kings, it was the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, who brought prominence to the fiber in Europe and a popularity that has been strong ever since.

Cashmere itself derives its name from the Kashmir goats of Tibetan origin, which are found in the mountainous regions around the Himalayas and Central Asia, most notably the regions around the Gobi desert. Knitted into sweaters and dresses, cashmere is often combed and sold in tops and noils.

CHENILLE
From the French word for caterpillar. Chenille yarns resemble a pipe cleaner or caterpillar. This fabric has a soft, luxurious appearance and texture. However, abrasion damage and snagging are common among chenille garments. Normal rubbing and friction on the fabric will initiate the condition. The necessary agitation of cleaning further aggravates the damage.

Machine washing, even on a gentle cycle, can cause excessive fabric damage. Used in millinery, rugs, decorative fabrics, trimmings, and upholstery.

Most chenille fabrics should be dry cleaned.

CHIFFON
Popular in spring and summer, chiffon is a sheer, lightweight, drapable, woven fabric originally made of silk but typically man-made today.

Most chiffon garments should be dry cleaned.

CHINTZ
The first slipcovers were made of chintz fabric that was discovered in India in the 1700s by a group of French decorators. Faster than you can say “insouciant,” society’s upper crusts were clamoring for chintz slipcovers to protect their expensive silk and brocade upholstery. By the 1950s, mini-slipcovers had become all the rage in American homes as ingenious camouflage for upholstered furniture. Chintzes tend to be loose patterns with large flowers and richly plumed exotic birds.

Used in draperies, slipcovers, dresses, and sportswear.

For proper care of chintz, professional dry cleaning is recommended.

CORDUROY
Corduroy is a distinctively recognizable ribbed fabric. Corduroy is often reported to be a French fabric, literally “fabric of the kings”. This appears to be an erroneous report. Corduroy instead appears to be a late-18th century English invention and initially worn by people of humble circumstances. Cotton corduroy was widely used by workers in the 19th century and became a popular children’s fabric by the early 20th century because of its warmth and durability. American boys commonly wore cord knickers to school in the fall and winter. British and French boys more commonly wore cord shorts. Some schools adopted school uniforms. The German Wandervogel often wore cord shorts, as French Scouts did later. Corduroy was eclipsed by denim after World War II, but is still popular for children’s clothing.

Uses include children’s clothes of all kinds, dresses, jackets, skirts, suits, slacks, sportswear, men’s trousers, jackets, bedspreads, draperies, and upholstery.

Most corduroy garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

COTTON
The word cotton comes from an Arabic word qutun or kutun used to describe any fine textile. Cotton is one of the oldest known fibers – some of the earliest fabric relics found in excavations of ancient civilizations have been cotton. Archaeologists found cotton fabric 5,000 years at Mohenjo Daro, an ancient town in the Indus River Valley of West Pakistan.

Around 300 BC, the army of Alexander the Great brought cotton goods into Europe, but the cloth was so expensive that only the very rich could afford it. In the early 17th century, the southern American colonies began growing cotton, and making a coarse cloth for their own use. The development of the cotton industry took a dramatic upward turn in the 18th century as Britain acquired colonies suitable for the growing of cotton and improvements in textile machinery made it possible to spin stronger yarns. In the early 19th century, the southern American states became the biggest single supplier of cotton to the now-thriving English textile mills. By the end of the 1920s, the United States was growing more than half the world’s cotton. Since then, many other countries have increased their production, with manufacturing being carried out chiefly in Europe and Asia.

Cotton garments may be dry cleaned.

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