Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fabric term of the week: Polyester

MUTTS by Patrick McDonnell
Polyester has a bad rap, and some of it may be deserved. Particularly in clothing made of 100% polyester from the 1960s and early 70s, the fiber can be less than perfectly pleasing to the touch. However, it can be washed and worn and makes a good day-to-day wearable. Polyester-strengthened blends appeared starting in 1953, and you may not even always sense its presence. By around the mid 1970s, 100% polyester fabrics started to improve in quality.

This comes from the new VFG Fabric Resource. You can click on the links for the definitions of these terms in the resource.


The inventor of nylon, Wallace Carothers, first created a polyester fiber in the 1930s. However it was the Englishman Dr. J.R. Whinfield who first supplied a commercially viable product in 1941. Still, polyester was not commercially introduced until 1953 in the U.S., and 1955 in Britain. The first British trade name (held by Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.) was Terylene. DuPont was the first U.S. manufacturer, under the trade name Dacron. Many other manufacturers and trade names have existed and continue to exist today.

Polyester fiber is manufactured from a synthetic polymer in which the polymer units are linked by ester groups. The spun fiber makes a strong and washable, relatively inexpensive fabric— one that is abrasion-, fade-, wrinkle-, insect- and mold-resistant. Its most significant drawbacks as a finished fabric are its lack of absorption, its tendency to hold onto oil-based stains, and the difficulty to remove its pilling. Although it acquired a bad name through overuse in the 1960s and 70s, polyester fabrics can now be found with a wide range of aesthetic qualities. Frequently a component in blends, polyester is by far the most common fiber used for fabric today.
©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain

From my Etsy shop: Late 70s polyester jersey wrap dress by Mr. Suli - Toronto

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