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Selecting Outerwear Fabrics

by Linda Beer, Sundrop Outerwear Textiles


SHELL FABRIC forms the outside layer of the garment. The shell fabric you select will depend upon the qualities you need in your garment. Of course, you may decide to throw technicalities to the wind if you see a color or pattern too delightful to resist.

STRETCH FABRICS are favorites for aerobic wear. Cotton LycraTM spandex is breathable and has a a soft hand. It is not recommended for swim wear, as it absorbs a great deal of water when wet and deteriorates in pool chemicals. Nylon LycraTM spandex is a great alternative to cotton LycraTM spandex as is does not absorb water, retains its shape when wet, provides support, and is very durable, Nylon LycraTM spandex is most often used in swimwear, cycling wear, and aerobic wear.

LINING is the layer of fabric that is closest to you in garment. Polysilk, 100% polyester lining, is breathable, durable, slippery, and has a fiberguard that keeps the insulation from bearding through. Mesh lining increases the breathability of garments by allowing more vapor to escape. WickawayTM and Polar TecTM will line and insulate your garment at the same time.

INSULATION provides warmth and forms the layer between the shell fabric and the lining. The higher the loft, the warmer the insulation. Synthetic insulations provide the most warmth for their weight and are the best choice for outdoor garments, as they retain their insulation qualities even when wet. Cotton insulations are nice for city wear but should not be used for outdoor garments as cotton becomes a cooling fabric when wet.

A mail order catalogue with a full line of outerwear fabrics is available from Sundrop Outerwear Textiles New fabrics available include: luscious Berbers in various colors and patterns; Cool Tech in a variety of prints and plains; Polar TecTM Stretch; an eclectic mix of hand-dyed fabrics, batiks, and tapestries and hard-to-find high-fashion fabrics including faux leather, natural cotton Fox fibres and Lustre Suede.

Other articles online by Linda Beer:

Polar Fleece Facts

How to Shorten a Vislon Separating Zipper

Easy, Almost "No-Sew," Polar Fleece Blanket

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