Tag Archives: poly fabric

60s Fashion=New Fabrics

We can’t talk about 60s fashion without talking about 60s fabrics. But first a quick trip through memory lane.
Fashion Trends of the 60s
Social mobility, daring fashion photography, easier travel abroad, the Vietnam war, new music of the Beatles and their much copied hairstyles, retro military and ethnic clothes, musicals, pop art and film all played a part in setting the fashion trends of the 60s. The era began with Jackie Kennedy in the early 1960s wearing her trademark pill box hat and three quarter sleeves. Then Courrèges created a new space-age inspired style. Courreges introduced shorter lengths and those boots! Mary Quant followed with mini-skirts and the introduction of panty hose,or tights. Emilio Pucci’s exotic psychedelic beautiful fabric prints was important as the fresh approach to fashion of Yves St. Laurent. Who can forget his Mondrian inspired dress?

The Fabrics
Many of the fashions of the 1960s existed because of the fabrics. Use of synthetic fibers introduced new fabric properties. When synthetics were mixed with natural fibres there was improved wear. The bright colors and textures were due to these new properties. Some fibers had been invented years earlier in the 1930s and 1940s, but it was only in the 60s that huge production plants for synthetic fibres sprang up globally.

Du Pont and ICI were the giants of synthetic manufacture producing a wide range of fabrics under trade names relating to Polyamide (nylon), Polyesters, Polyurethanes, Polyolefins and Polyacrylonitriles. Polyamide is nylon. It came under trade names such as Nylon 6, Celon, Enkalon, Perlon, Bri-Nylon, Cantrece and others. Polyester was known variously as Terylene, Dacron, Terlenka, Trevira, Kodel, Diolen, Tergal and Lavsan. Polyurethane is the generic name of the elastomeric family of stretch fibres like Spandex, Lycra and Spanzelle.

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Cotton Blend or Poly?

Aside from a burn test, which takes some set-up, time and effort, it is nearly impossible to tell from the feel and look of a fabric whether it is a cotton/poly blend or poly.  I recently found a quick and easy way to distinguish between the two.

Fiber-Etch, a liquid used in embroidery or cutwork embroidery, dissolves any plant fiber including cotton, linen, and rayon. Since this product removes plant fibers, it is also useful to determine fabric content. With blends of plant fiber fabrics, the blended fibers will remain. For example, a cotton/polyester fabric will, when this product is applied to a small area, remove the cotton fiber and leave the polyester fiber.

So cut a small sample, paint on the Fiber-Etch and watch to see what happens.  If it all disappears–it’s all cotton (or rayon or linen).  If some of it disappears, it’s a blend and if none disappears, it’s poly.

Here’s a video demo on how to use Fiber Etch.