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Fabric Guide

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Fabric Types

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Originally made of silk that came to the West from China via Damascus. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wore Chinese robes of crimson damask in order to prove to his dinner guests that he had been to the court of Kublai Khan in Cathay.


Damask is one of the oldest and most popular cloths to be found today. Very elaborate designs are possible. The firmer the texture, the better the quality.

Damask garments and household items may be dry cleaned.

Heirlooming and preservation of antique damask is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

In 1850, the California gold rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 20-year-old Bavarian immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of dry goods. Shortly after his arrival, a prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, “You should have brought pants!” saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last. Strauss had the canvas made into pants. Miners liked the pants, but complained that they tended to chafe. Levi Strauss substituted a twilled cotton cloth from France called “serge de Nimes,” which became known as denim.


Denim garments may be dry cleaned.

EMBROIDERY & MACHINE EMBROIDERYQueen Elizabeth I was a great admirer of embroidery and kept her women at it. Domestic embroidery was all the rage, whereas the work done before then had been done professionally. Much of the embroidery done in the queen’s time and later periods were done by amateurs and was very hard to tell from professional work! The records for the first charter for the Broderers’ Co. were destroyed in a fire, but we know it existed in 1430. The Queen renewed it, and they were fussy to say the least about the work turned out by its members.


We have a great source of information on embroidery done in the 17th century by the list of gifts given to Queen Elizabeth I. Slippers, hankies, gowns, covered cases, mantles, hats, cloaks, hose, belts, even embroidered covered buttons, tunics, scarves, sleeves (which were removable, charming idea!), collars, linen caps, occasional mittens and gloves, sweet bags, which were tied with gilt ties, strings, and tassels, hangings that surrounded her when she met with visitors were opulent and impressive, too.

Embroidered garments and items should be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique embroidery is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

Preferred fabric of the early-1990s grunge movement. A general term that describes a number of woolen fabrics woven in different weights of worsted. Usually soft and made of a plain or twilled weave slightly napped on one side.

E.T. wore a flannel shirt when visiting Earth.

Flannel garments may be dry cleaned.

Types of Fur:BADGERAn extremely durable fur, badger is heavy, warm, and somewhat rugged. The long silvery guard hair covers a dense underfur, which should be white or tan.BEAVERMost beaver is American, but there is now increased beaver production in the Russia. Beaver can be plucked and sheared, or left natural. Sheared beaver is shorn to its amazingly deep, soft pile. Natural beaver’s lustrous guard hairs give it a completely different look and feel…rugged, warm, and durable.CALFAn infinite variety will be found in the markings. Natural colors include browns, whites, blacks, tans, and others. Many calf coats are dyed.CHINCHILLANow almost wholly ranch-raised, most chinchilla boasts lustrous slate-blue top hair and dark underfur, and more colors are becoming available. Fur is short, dense, and very silky to the touch.COYOTECoyote is a natural choice for women and men who desire warmth, softness, and durability. Colors range from pale gray to tan. The finest coyote is layered with long guard hairs over thick, soft underfur.FISHERFisher is the smaller North American cousin to the Russian Sable. The finest fisher are chocolate brown in color and native to the Northwest U.S. and Canada.FITCHColors range from ecru with black markings to an orange tone. In its natural state, fitch has long guard hairs over woolly underfur.FOXQuickly regaining the popularity it had earlier in this century, fox is available in a tremendous variety of natural mutation colors: silver, blue, white, beige, red, gray, and brown. With the proper care, a fine fox coat can be expected to wear 10 to 12 seasons. When selecting a fox, be sure the guard hairs are long and glossy and the soft underfur is thick.LAMBThis group of furs encompasses a wide variety of weights and textures, from flat and wavy to thick and curly. Once you’ve decided on the luxury of lamb, you can choose from dressy Karukal or Persian, broadtail, sporty Mongolian; soft, water-repellent Mouton; or dense, luxurious Shearling.LYNXThe rarest lynx is found in the Russia. It is highly prized and priced because of its exceptionally soft fur, subtle markings, and protected status by the Russian government. Only a limited number of pelts are sold each year.MARMOTWhether you choose dyed or natural marmot, you can expect the fur to be warm, thick, and fairly course. The best marmot has a bluish cast. Because it is often dyed, there exists a wide range of possible colors.MINKAmerica’s favorite fur due to the high quality in relationship to price. A fine mink coat will be dense but surprisingly lightweight. Guard hairs shine with an unmistakable luster, and the underfur is lush and soft. No other fur offers a larger selection of natural colors, ranging from whites and grays to rich browns and brownish blacks. Garments made from female animals may be higher priced than those made from male animals. The female pelt is narrower, smaller, and softer.MOLEDue to the large number of pelts that make up a mole garment, matching must be done carefully. Evenness in color and hair height are signs of a high-quality mole fur. Mole skins are always dyed.MUSKRATWith the northern and the Jersey, dense, well-matched skins are the ideal. The southern variety should have a pale color, and there should be uniformity of the sparse guard hairs.NUTRIASimilar to BEAVER, Nutria can be sheared or natural. When selecting sheared Nutria, pay particular attention to the quality of the shearing…the desired effect is plush and even. Natural Nutria should be uniform in color and texture,, with long sleek guard hairs and thick underfur. Ant Nutria may be dyed. Natural colors range from the bluish beige of ranched Nutria to the more delicate brown of wild Nutria.OPOSSUMUsually originating in either Australia or the U.S., the American is the longer haired of the two, with silver gray guard hair and dense underfur. The color should be uniform. The fur of the Australian opossum will be dense, plush, and short. The best is blue gray and especially soft with woolly underfur.RABBITRanch rabbit is available in a wonderful array of 14 natural colors. Silky texture and uniformity of color are the qualities to keep in mind for the finest garment. The colors and choices between shearing, grooving, and natural rabbit present a generous selection of warm, soft fur coats, jackets, vests, and hats.AMERICAN RACCOONIn contrast to the bulky college student’s coat of the 1920s, today’s fashions are sleeker, more understated, and much more sophisticated. The best raccoon furs come from northern Canada, where they develop long, silvery guard hairs over a dense, luxuriant underfur. May be bleached or dyed, or sheared to a silky, even texture, or left natural.SABLEOne of the rarest, most expensive furs, the finest sables are found almost exclusively in the Russia. At one time, every sable was considered property of the Czar. Even today the export of pelts is limited, and the export of live animals is forbidden. Each pelt is extremely light, long and narrow. Crown sable is brown with a blue cast. The golden sable has an amber tone. The finest sables have a silvery hair dispersed throughout.SKUNKA finely defined white marking and lustrous blue black coat give the fine skunk fur its tremendous visual appeal. Its tactile appeal comes from the silky texture. North American skunk and the zorina from South America are similar, except that the zorina has a flatter, silkier texture.SQUIRRELRussia, Poland, Finland, and Canada are the origins of the finest squirrel furs. Squirrel is heavily furred yet lightweight. Density and silkiness are the qualities that mark the really fine squirrel fur.TANUKIImported from Japan, tanuki is actually a member of the raccoon family. It may, due to its already close resemblance, be dyed to resemble a cross fox. Or it can be left as is…a glorious tribute to its own natural beauty.WEASELSimilar to mink, and perfect for the discerning buyer who wants the feel of mink in a shorter, more lightweight texture.Fur Storage:Professional cold storage is always recommended. The environment should be 58% humidity and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If storing the coat at home, use a broad hanger, and do not cover the coat with plastic. Plastic, which has no pores for air ventilation, will prevent the coat from breathing. This will cause drying of the skins and will prematurely age the coat.


For proper care of fur garments, professional cleaning is recommended. Proper storage of fur garments is also recommended.

A smooth, durable, twill-woven cloth especially of worsted, spun rayon or cotton. Clear finish, tightly woven, firm, durable, rather lustrous. Can be given a dull finish. Has single diagonal lines on the face, raised twill. Wears extremely well. Also comes in various weights. Inclined to shine with wear. Hard to press properly. Used in men’s and women’s tailored suits, coats, raincoats, uniforms, and men’s shirts.


Gabardine garments should be carefully dry cleaned.

Georgette is a thin silk or crêpe dress material. Usually done in silk but can also be found in manufactured fibers. It is characterized by its crispness, body, and outstanding durability. It is sheer and has a dull face. Georgette was named after Georgette de la Plante (c. 1900), a French dressmaker.

Most georgette garments should be dry cleaned.

Heirlooming and preservation of antique clothing is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

Gingham is a cotton or linen cloth, for the name of which several origins are suggested. It is said to have been made at Guingamp, a town in Brittany; the New English Dictionary derives the word from Malay ging-gang, meaning “striped.” The cloth is now of a light- or medium-weight, anil woven of dyed or white yarns either in a single color or different colors, and in stripes, checks, or plaids. It is made in Lancashire and in Glasgow, and also to a large extent in the United States. Imitations of it are obtained by calico printing. Uses include dresses, blouses, trimmings, kerchiefs, aprons, beach wear, curtains, bedspreads, and pajamas.


Gingham may be dry cleaned.

Woven fabrics manufactured by using the Jacquard attachment on the loom. This attachment provides versatility in designs and permits individual control of each of the warp yarns. Thus, fabrics of almost any type or complexity can be made. Brocade and damask are types of jacquard-woven fabrics.

Joseph Jacquard recognized that weaving, although an intricate and delicate task, was highly repetitive. He believed that the weaving of complex patterns could be automated just as the manufacturing of simple patterns had. He conceived a system that relied on stiff, pasteboard cards with various patterns of punched holes. At each throw of the shuttle, a card was placed in the path of the rods. The pattern of holes in the card determined which rods could pass through, and thus acted as a program for the loom. This control system allowed for flexibility and various levels of complexity in the patterns and is considered a precursor to today’s computer.

Jacquard may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique Jacquard is also recommended for museums and individuals.


Jersey was first made on the island of Jersey off the English coast and used for fisherman’s clothing. Jersey has has lengthwise ribs (wales) on its right side, and its wrong side has crosswise ribs (courses). Very elastic with good draping qualities. Has special crease-resistant qualities due to its construction. Is knitted plain or has many elaborate tweed designs and fancy motifs, as well as printed designs. Can look very much like woven fabric. Stretch as you sew. Uses: Dress goods, sportswear, suits, underwear, coats, gloves, sweaters and hats.

Jersey garments may be dry

The origin of lace is difficult to locate in both time and place. Some authors assume that the manufacturing of lace started during ancient Rome, based on the discovery of small bone cylinders in the shape of bobbins. For firm evidence, we have to look back to the 15th century when Charles the Fifth decreed that lace making was to be taught in the schools and convents of the Belgian provinces. During this period of renaissance and enlightenment, the making of lace was firmly based within the domain of fashion. To be precise, it was designed to replace embroidery in a manner that could easily transform dresses to follow different styles of fashion. Unlike embroidery, lace could be unsewn from one material to be replaced on another.


Lace garments may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique lace is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

Silk or any textile fiber in which metallic threads are used in the warp or the filling. Lamé is also a trade mark for metallic yarns. Often has patterns all over the surface. The shine and glitter of this fabric make it suitable for dressy wear. The term comes from the French for “worked with gold and silver wire.” Uses: Principally for evening wear.

Derivation: French for “trimmed with leaves of gold or silver,” from the Latin lamina.

Most lamé garments should be dry cleaned.

Leather is one of nature’s most luxurious yet practical materials. One of the first things people do after looking at a leather jacket is touch it. The way leather feels to the touch is called the “hand feel” or simply “the hand.” As a general rule, the softer the hand, the better the leather quality.


There are many influencing factors that affect the quality of leather. Every hide has textural variations related to the animal’s genetic makeup, environment, and food supply. The resulting markings and wrinkles on a given hide should be considered part of the hide’s natural beauty and uniqueness. There are numerous types of leathers and leather treatment processes for tanning and finishing leather. The leather used in the garment industry is a byproduct of farming and food production. In the production of leather, each tannery has its own techniques and recipes for creating texture and color variations.

After the hides are tanned, dyed, and finished as desired, skilled craftsmen carefully select hides that match in color and texture. Each hide is cut by hand from patterns that represent the sleeves, collar, body, and other portions of the garment. These pieces are then sewn into a garment.

Professional leather cleaning is recommended when needed for leather garments. Unlike fabric, leather has natural oils that protect and preserve the appearance and life of a garment. Removing these oils reduces the hide’s suppleness. The chemicals used to clean leather frequently remove the natural oils as well as the undesired dirt. These oils must be restored by a professional leather cleaner.

The better the quality of a hide of skin, the less it has to be treated. In a premium quality hide or skin, the full natural grain is retained and exposed. One should see the “fat wrinkles,” the natural markings, and the feel or hand should be supple and natural to the touch. Transforming hides and skins into leather is done in three basic phases: pretanning, tanning, and finishing. Whatever is done to a piece of leather after it is tanned is part of the finishing process. This may include dyeing, rolling, pressing, spraying, plasticizing, lacquering, antiquing, waxing, buffing, snuffing, embossing, glazing, waterproofing, stain-proofing, flame-proofing, or any other post-tanning treatment. Full-grain leathers are color-treated only by transparent aniline vegetable dyes, which shade or color the skins without concealing or obscuring natural markings or grain character. Most furniture leathers have been treated with a coating of pigmentation to help even out the color.

Genuine, natural, unpigmented, and unplasticized leather will breathe and ventilate, thus wicking away body heat. If the surface of the leather has been plasticized, as is the case for most automobile upholstery, the leather cannot breathe and may become stiff and boardy.

Types of Leathers:BUCKSKINDeer and elk skins, having the outer grain removed.CALFSKINSkin from a young bovine, male or female.CATTLEHIDEGeneral term for hides before tanning from a bovine of any breed or sex, but usually mature; includes bullhide, steerhide, cowhide, and sometimes kipskins.COWHIDEHide from a mature female bovine, thick, very grainy, but durable.DEERSKIN/ELKSKINDeer and elk skins having the grain intact.GOATSKINSkin from a mature goat.HORSEHIDEHide from a horse or colt.LAMBSKINSkin from a lamb or young sheep. One of the softest leathers and therefore more expensive. Smooth, lightweight, and uniform, tight grain.NEW ZEALAND LAMBSKINVery soft lambskin, from a lamb or sheep grown in New Zealand. See Lambskin.PELTAn untanned hide or skin with the hair on.PIGSKINSkin from pigs and hogs.SHEARLINGWoolen sheep and lambskin tanned with the wool intact. Very warm and durable.SHEEPSKINSkin from a mature sheep. See Shearling.SHRUNKEN LAMBA tanning process that actually shrinks the hide, creating a more pebbly or puckered, grainy appearance.Leather Glossary:ANILINEThe type of dye used to give the initial color to a skin. Aniline dying is the process of putting skins into a drum and allowing the dye to soak completely through.BUFFEDLeather that has been abrased or sueded. This can also be referred to as snuffed, nubuck leather, or grain-sueded leather.BUFFINGProcess used to minimize surface imperfections; creates a more uniform skin appearance.EMBOSSED LEATHERUsually corrected grain, in which a pattern is applied by extreme pressure in a press to give a unique design or imitation of full grain characteristics. Sometimes leathers are embossed to make them appear to be another leather, such as embossing an alligator pattern into cowhide.FAT WRINKLEWrinkles in the grain of leather caused by fat deposits in the animal that creates beauty in the leather. Fat wrinkles are not visible in imitation grain leather.FINISHA surface application on the leather to color, protect, or mask imperfections. More specifically, all processes administered to leather after it has been tanned.FULL GRAINThe term used for the outside original skin or hide that has had the hair removed, but otherwise has not been corrected or altered. Full-grain leather possesses the genuine original grain of the animal.GLAZED FINISHSimilar to an aniline finish except that the leather surface is polished to a high luster by the action of glass on steel rollers under tremendous pressure.GLOVE LEATHERA term used to describe soft leather used for gloves, which is normally lambskin. The term is also used by some to define soft leather.IMITATIONA variety of materials that have been made to resemble genuine leather. The great bulk of these are rubber or plastic-coated fabrics. It is unlawful to use terms connoting leather to describe imitations.NAKED LEATHERA leather with no surface, impregnated treatment of finish other than dye matter that might mask or alter the natural state of the leather. Usually reserved for the finest-quality skins.NATURAL GRAINA leather that retains the full original grain.NUBUCKLeather that has been abrased to create a slight sueded-type nap, resulting in a soft feel that appears smoother than suede.OIL TANNEDLeather tanned with certain fish oils. Produces a very soft, pliable leather such as chamois.PATENT LEATHERLeather with a glossy-impermeable finish produced by successive coats of drying oils, varnish, or synthetic resins.SADDLE LEATHERVegetable-tanned cattlehide leather for harnesses and saddles, usually of a natural tan shade and rather flexible.SHRUNKEN GRAIN LEATHERA full, natural-grain leather that is shrunken to enlarge and enhance the grain of the leather.SUEDELeathers that are finished by buffing the flesh side (opposite the grain side) to produce a nap. Term refers to the napping process, and is unrelated to the type of skin used. Professional leather cleaning is recommended for all leathers and fabric garments trimmed with leather. Normal dry cleaning methods will not yield proper results. Since leather cleaning is a specialty, not found in every city, most neighborhood dry cleaners send their customers’ garments to professional leather cleaners who work on behalf of hundreds of dry cleaners across several states. Call one or more leather cleaners to determine which of your neighborhood dry cleaners they work with. Tell the leather cleaner you were referred by the Leather Apparel Association. The garment may then be dropped off at a local dry cleaner who will send it to a reputable leather cleaner.


Specialized care is recommended to retain the supple beauty and luster of leather.

Just as silk comes from the fiber to the silkworm’s cocoon, and wool from the fleece of animals, linen comes from the fibers of the stalk of the flax plant line usitatissimum, or “most useful linen.”


To produce linen, textile flax is not cut, but pulled from the ground to preserve the long, full length of the fibers. Today, the lengthy process that yields our beautiful modern linen yarn is still described in quaintly archaic terns. Retting and turning is a soaking process wherein natural enzymes break down the pectins that bind the fiber bundles and release the individual fibers. Scutching in a mechanical turbine is the overall process that extracts the fibers. Rippling removes and retrieves the seeds. Drafting and breaking involves passing layers of parallel flax stalks through increasingly finer and faster toothed rollers to separate the textile fibers form the short fibers of “tow” and the woody waste matter or “shives.” Hackling describes the “combing” of “hands” of line flax. Drafting and doubling, or carding, draw out the long or short fibers respectively for spinning into yarn that is ready for weaving, bleaching, dyeing, and finishing into cloth or twisting, polishing, and finishing as thread.

Today, most manufacturers of linen items especially interior furnishings, recommend dry cleaning. Why dry clean a natural-fiber fabric? The underlying reason is not the linen, its self, but the dyes, finishes, interfacing, lining, buttons, trim and thread used in construction. The latter is especially a concern with garments.

DraperiesDry cleaning is recommended for cleaning linen draperies. Selecting a reputable dry cleaner, especially one who does the work on-site, provides the best opportunity for your draperies to receive a thorough, professional cleaning.WallcoveringsKeeping linen wallcoverings looking clean and fresh can be as simple as an occasional vacuum, using the brushless attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Because linen is anti-static, wallcoverings of linen do not attract dust. When staining occasionally occurs, use a good waterless stain remover or waterless shampoo. Choose cleaning products especially developed for fine fabrics.Upholstery and CarpetsDry cleaning is the recommended method for cleaning upholstery and carpets. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a reputable, professional dry cleaner in your area.


For proper care of all linens, professional dry cleaning is recommended.

The family of lightweight, rugged, stretchy fibers containing at least 85% polyurethane. Polyurethane is atype of “plastic” material that is very similar to rubber in many respects but has many superior characteristics and none of rubber’s “bad” habits.


First patented in 1954 by DuPont (U.S.), spandex fibers were improved significantly during the mid and late ’50s until they began to displace elastic (rubber) in corsets, girdles, bras, and such around 1960.

Spandex is three to six times more powerful than elastic on a weight-to-weight basis, and unlike elastic, spandex is highly resistant to abrasion, ozone, oils (including skin oils and applied lotions), and detergents. And also unlike elastic, the fibers of which must be relatively thick to be strong enough to be used in modern high-speed knitting machines and must be covered with another material such as cotton or nylon (an expensive process) to be suitable for use in clothing, spandex fibers are thin, strong, and light, and can be knitted directly into fabrics in their raw state.

Most lycra garments should be dry cleaned.

The first microfibers were developed in Japan over 20 years ago. One of the best-known of the early microfibers is Ultrasuede®, which is made of polyester microfibers. It became economically possible to use microfibers in the 1980s, with DuPont introducing their first, also made of polyester, in 1989.


For as long as microfiber technology has been around, ultra-microfiber technology has been, too. These are fibers that are less than 0.1 denier (a unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarn is measured). Several different processes can be used to make these fibers, all involving the splitting of a larger fiber into many smaller ones.

DuPont’s microfiber, which was introduced in 1989, is a variety of polyester that has extremely thin filaments. It is tough and resilient, and can be manufactured to extremely fine tolerances, many times thinner than other synthetics. It is this strength, precision, and absolute sheerness, as well as its phenomenal absorbency, that give rise to so many applications, including an amazing ability to clean and dry surfaces. Microfiber (specifically polyester) as the sole constituent of a cloth will wear and shed fiber with use, so it is best utilized in combination with nylon. Many uses; used in bras, dockers, pillowcases.

Microfiber may be dry cleaned.

The angora goat is one of the oldest surviving animals known to man, and is said to have originated in the mountains of Tibet, homeland of the pious Tibetan monks. Mohair, the fleece of this delicate creature, is famous for its softness, brilliance, and receptiveness to rich dyes, facts that make its history traceable to ancient times.

The angora goat is named after Angora in Turkey, better known today as Ankara, the capital city. The word mohair is derived from the ancient Arabic word mukhaya meaning “cloth of bright goats”. The Angoran people attributed the beauty of the fleece not to climatic conditions, but to the power of the Hadji Bayram Veli, a holy man, and weaved the fleece into silk-like cloth to be worn by sultans.

Dry cleaning for mohair is always recommended – especially if the garment has interlinings or shoulder pads.

From the French Mousseline, from Mussolo, Mosul, a city in Iraq (Mesopotamia). A smooth, delicately woven cotton fabric, used for dresses and curtains. Coarser cotton fabrics used for shirts and sheeting are sometimes also called muslins.


Muslin garments, quilts, and household items may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique muslin is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

This manufactured fiber is very strong and is resistant to both abrasion and damage from many chemicals. It is elastic, easy to wash, and quite lustrous. It returns easily to its original shape and is non-absorbent. It is fast-drying, resistant to some dyes, and resistant to moths and other insects, water, perspiration, and standard dry-cleaning agents. Uses include hosiery, knitted or woven lingerie, socks and sweaters, rugs and carpets, tents, sleeping bags, duffle bags, racquet strings, fishing lines, sails, tire cord, machine belting, filter netting, fish nets, laminates, and ropes.

Nylon may be dry cleaned.

First made in New Bedford’s Wamsutta Mills in 1876, a closely woven, smooth-finished, plain or printed cotton cloth used primarily for bed sheets.


Percale garments may be dry cleaned.

Polyester began as a group of polymers in W.H. Carothers’ laboratory. Carothers was working for duPont at the time when he discovered that alcohols and carboxyl acids could be successfully combined to form fibers. Polyester was put on the back burner, however, once Carothers discovered nylon.


A group of Brittish scientists–J.R. Whinfield, J.T. Dickson, W.K. Birtwhistle, and C.G. Ritchie–took up Carothers’ work in 1939. In 1941, they created the first polyester fiber, called Terylene. In 1946 duPont bought all legal rights from the Brits and came up with another polyester fiber, which they named dacron.

Polyester was first introduced to the American public in 1951. It was advertised as a miracle fiber that could be worn for 68 days straight without ironing and still look presentable.

In 1958, another polyester fiber, called Kodel, was developed by Eastman Chemical Products, Inc. The polyester market kept expanding. Since it was such an inexpensive and durable fiber, many small textile mills emerged all over the country–many located in old gas stations–to produce cheap polyester items.

Polyester experienced a constant growth until the 1970s, when sales drastically declined due to the negative public image that emerged in the late 60s as a result of the infamous polyester double-knit fabric!

Today, polyester is still widely regarded as a cheap, uncomfortable fiber, but even now this image is slowly beginning to change with the emergence of polyester luxury fibers such as polyester microfiber.

Polyester is sometimes referred to it as plastic because of its tendency to melt under the iron, and also because of the stiff, warm hand that garments made of polyester tend to have.

Polyester may be dry cleaned.

A plain-woven fabric usually of cotton, with a corded surface. Has a more pronounced filling effect than broadcloth. It is mercerized and has quite a high luster. It may be bleached, dyed (usually vat dyes are used), or printed. Heavy poplin is given a water-repellent finish for outdoor use. Originally made with silk warp and a heavier wool filling. Some poplins are mildew-proof, fire-retardant, and some given a suede finish. Used in sportswear, shirts, boys’ suits, uniforms, draperies, blouses and dresses.

Most poplin garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

Averil Colby’s Quilting (London, Batsford, 1978) cites one of the earliest examples of quilting as a “carved ivory figure of a Pharoah of the Egyptian First Dynasty, wearing a supposedly quilted mantle, c. 3400 B.C.”


More history of quilting can be found in the popular literature of the Middle Ages, where references to quilts abound, usually in the form of bed quilts. Certainly some of the most colorful examples of quilting and needlework are found in the paintings of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a time when quilting became a decorative art form as well as a means of keeping warm.

In colonial America, families settled in remote regions where supplies were often scarce. Women were expected to make clothing for the family, and very often they wove and spun the fabric themselves. Every scrap became valuable, and every fabric scrap was used. Many young girls made quilt tops in preparation for their eventual marriage, using fabrics imported from England, a rare and precious commodity.

The Industrial Revolution changed quilting dramatically. Printed fabrics were more readily available, and houses were better heated, diminishing the need for heavy quilts. Victorian ladies turned patchwork into a new form, the crazy quilt. Irregular pieces of silk and velvet were heavily embroidered to turn into lap covers.

Today, quilting has reached the level of art. In addition to beautifully hand-sewn traditional patterns, many quilters use their quilts as political or personal statements. Pictorial quilts, abstract quilts, and watercolor quilts have reached a level of sophistication never seen before. Many quilters also combine different fabrics or dye their own fabrics to create truly original works of art.

Quilts may be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique quilts is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.


Although rayon is a man-made fiber, it is a fiber that is made up of a base of cellulose, or plant fiber, either wood or other vegetable sources. Material used to make rayon, or viscose, generally comes from manufacturing waste; i.e., wood chips and cotton lint. These materials are chemically liquefied and spun into filaments. Rayon and viscose have the same properties, but are differently manufactured (we will say “rayon” to mean both). Rayon has a very soft hand, and drapes well, but is not resilient and does not hold its shape in a garment. This fiber also tends to have a high luster. It is often blended with cotton.

Rayon is very receptive to dyes, but it is not always washable in water.

Most rayon garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

A strong cotton fabric constructed in satin weave and having a lustrous face. Sateen is usually made of cotton, or sometimes rayon.


No dry cleaning is preferred for longevity of this fabric.

Satin has been a staple in wedding gowns for centuries. Satin originated in Zaytoun, China, which is now Canton. It became popular in Europe in the 12th century, in Italy in the 13th century, and in England in the 14th century.


Satin, because of its construction and fiber content, is one of the most luxurious fabrics manufactured. Satin is most often made from low-twist filament yarns. It is usually constructed by floating the warp or lengthwise yarns over four filling or horizontal yarns. The long floats give the fabric luster.

Silk is the premiere choice of fiber content for bridal satin fabrics. However, silk satins are more expensive than satins containing acetate or polyester. Satin is found in apparel, lingerie, draperies, drapery lining fabrics, and upholstery fabrics.

Types of Satin:


Crepe yarns, or highly twisted yarns, are used in the filling (horizontal) direction of the fabric, and the smooth, low-twisted filament yarns are still used in the warp.


This type of satin is created using slub (yarns with thick and thin areas) yarns in the filling direction.


A high yarn count satin that contains fine yarns. This type of satin has a crisp body to it. It is commonly used in bridal gowns. April Oakley, designer at Wild Ginger Software, Inc., designed and made her own wedding gown using a silk duchesse satin. April highly recommends this type of satin for wedding gowns because of the body it gives without a lot of weight. Duchesse satin can be found in couture wedding gowns.


A heavy stiff satin used mainly for footwear.

Most satin garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

Satin garments garments and household items should be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of wedding gowns is also recommended.

This fiber is not a hair, but a filament spun by the silkworm to form its cocoon. It is said that these strands were discovered in ancient China when an empress was shown a cocoon, which she accidentally dropped into her tea. When it was fished out, the resin that holds the cocoon together had dissolved, and the cocoon unwound into a single, strong continuous strand. Whether this is true or not, silk has been cultivated in China for centuries.


Cultivated silk is very fine and smooth, with a soft hand and a pearly luster. Its drape is exceptional, lending a “watery” movement, especially to finely woven silk fabrics. Wild silk, often called tussah or raw silk, is coarser, with a more linen-like look and texture. Both cultivated and wild silk are used in yarn and fabric production.

Silk is very receptive to dyes, but also fades very easily, especially when hand-washed as opposed to being dry cleaned. Silk does not conduct heat and is a very good insulator and is soft against the skin. It is the strongest of natural fibers, but it lacks elasticity, and garments knitted out of silk tend to stretch. It has been blended with other fibers like wool to improve its elasticity and to make it more affordable.

Most silk garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

Differences between Leather and SuedeSmooth leather or grain leather refers to the top outer layer of the animal’s skin. The only difference between suede and leather is the finish that is applied to the skin. The most common types of hides used in garment manufacturing are lamb, cow, and pig. Nubuck is created by lightly buffing the top grain until it takes on a very fine nap that appears smoother than suede.


Suede is generally the underside of the hide rubbed to make a velvety nap. Suede may also be split from a thick hide. The top surface of the new layer looks like suede but is not as soft.

Professional suede cleaning is recommended when needed for suede garments.

A crisp lustrous plain-weave silk or rayon. Taffeta originated in Iran (Persia) and was called “taftah” (a fine silk fabric). In the 16th century, it became a luxury for women’s wear. Taffeta is made in plain colors, fancy prints, watered designs, and changeable effects. It is smooth with a sheen on its surface.

Most taffeta garments should be dry cleaned.

Taffeta garments should be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of wedding gowns is also recommended.

Typical toile de jouy motifs often tell a story, including in them vignettes of rural life, historical events, military victories, as well as mythical and (most often) pastoral scenes. In 1779, copper printing plates were introduced and allowed for the very precise, detailed drawings you see today.


Toile fabric is named after The Manufacture Royale de Jouy (Royal Factory of Jouy). Jouy-en-Josas is a little town near Versailles southwest of Paris. “Toile” means canvas or cloth, and “Jouy” represents the abbreviated name of the village, Jouy-en-Josas.

Toile should be dry cleaned. Heirlooming and preservation of antique toile is also recommended.


A fine starched net of silk, usually for veils and dresses. First made by machine in 1768. Has a hexagonal mesh and is stiff. Comes in white and colors, and is very cool, dressy, and delicate.

It is a stately type of fabric when used for formal wear and weddings. It is also used for ballet costumes and wedding veils. The word “tulle” is for Tulle, the town in France where it was first made.

Tulle is difficult to launder. Taffeta should be dry cleaned.

Heirlooming and preservation of wedding gowns is also recommended.

In 1970, Toray Industries scientist Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto invented the world’s first microfiber. A few months later, his colleague Dr. Toyohiko Hikota, succeeded in developing a process that would transform these microfibers into the fabric Ultrasuede®.

Ultrasuede® is often combined with materials (for lining,etc.) that don’t stand up to a washing machine.

All Ultrasuede® fabrics should be dry cleaned except for one shade of clear white used for some garments. Check your manufacturer’s care instructions for details.

A soft plush fabric with a close, dense pile. Velours is the French term for velvet. A cotton fabric that has a deeper pile than velveteen and is heavier in weight. It is commonly used in upholstery and draperies.


Most velour garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

A double action loom is used to make velvet. Two layers of fabric are woven at the same time and the space between them is interlaced with connecting yarns. The two layers are cut apart as they come off the loom, creating two pieces of fabric with an upright pile surface. Finishes are often applied to velvets to keep the pile erect and resilient, to secure the pile or to give the fabric body.


The most common type of velvet is a plain weave with a cut pile. It is soft, comes in deep, rich colors and is typically used in formal or eveningwear. Velvet is also commonly used in interior design applications from curtains to upholstery to accent pillows. A common type of upholstery is cut velvet, which has a pattern cut out from around uncut loops of pile. Crushing the velvet pile can produce two additional types of velvet, crushed velvet and panné velvet.

Crushed velvet involves the fabric being mechanically twisted while wet. Applying heavy pressure to the pile in one direction produces panné velvet. Crushed velvet is also found in interior applications but is often used in apparel as well. For upholstery purposes crushed velvet can have a coated backing applied to provide stability. When being used in apparel the texture of the crushed velvet creates a beautiful luster effect and the direction of the pile can also be used to provide various looks from the same piece of fabric.

Finer, plain weave velvets can only be dry cleaned. Most knit velvets must also be dry cleaned. If not cared for properly, velvet can yield a host of problems including a loss of pile, piling, flattening, matting, tufting and shrinkage. In addition, crushed velvet can lose its design and become distorted.

Most velvet clothing and household items should be dry cleaned.

A pile fabric that generally has a shorter pile than true velvet. A fabric with a low-filling pile made by cutting an extra set of filling yarns woven in a float formation and bound to the back of the material at intervals by weaving over and under one or more warp ends. “True” velvet has a short, closely-woven pile and is typically made of rayon, acetate, silk or a blend of these fibers. Velveteen is similar to velvet, but has a shorter pile and is usually made of cotton or cotton/polyester blend. Velveteen should be dry cleaned.


Heirlooming and preservation of antique velveteen is also recommended for museums as well as individuals.

Voile is a cotton fabric, also wool and called “Voilé de laine”. Voile is a thin semi-transparent dress material of cotton, wool, or silk. Sheer and very light weight. Usually made with cylindrical combed yarns.


To obtain a top quality fabric, very highly twisted yarns are used. Voile drapes and gathers very well. The clear surface is obtained by singeing away any fuzzy yarns. Has a hard finish and crisp, sometimes wiry hand. Uses: Dresses, blouses, curtains. .

Most voile garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

Wool is the ‘big daddy’ of natural fibers, and is the most common and least expensive of all the natural fibers used for knitting. It comes from sheep of which there are many different varieties, and it can come in the form of coarser wools, such as Icelandic Lopi, to the very fine and soft wools, such as Merino. Wool is receptive to dyes and has excellent insulative properties, making it comfortable to wear in both warm and cool climates due to its remarkable ability to absorb moisture.


Wool was probably the first animal fiber to be made into cloth. The art of spinning wool into yarn developed about 4000 B.C. and encouraged trade among the nations in the region of the Mediterranean Sea.

The first wool factory in England was established in 50 A.D. in Winchester by the Romans. In 1797, the British brought 13 Merino sheep to Australia and started the the country’s Merino sheep industry.

There are 40 different breeds of sheep in the world producing a rough estimate of 200 types of wool with varying standards. The major wool producers in the world are Australia, Argentina, China and South Africa.

When exposed to a lot of handling and heat, combined with excess moisture, however, wool does shrink up and “felt”, so care must be taken when hand washing.

Most wool garments and household items should be dry cleaned.

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