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All About Fabrics

Can you accurately identify fabrics by burning them?

Not always, as many fabrics are different blends, but you can use the following as a rough guide. if your ‘pure silk’ burns and melts, then it is certainly not silk. Pure cotton burns steadily with a smell like burning leaves, and leaves soft ash. Linen takes longer to ignite, and the unburnt cloth hardens as the flame approaches. Both fabrics can be blown out easily. Pure Silk is not so easy as cotton to extinguish, and burns with a smell like scorched hair, leaving ash, which easily disintegrates. Synthetics such as Acetate, Acrylic, Nylon and Polyester burn and melt, leaving a harder ash. Rayon burns rapidly, and leaves only a slight ash. If you do this, always use tweezers over a safe container, egg. a metal bowl with water and don't let children experiment, as nasty burns can result from some synthetics which burn and melt, dripping on to unsuspecting fingers.

What does the “Super” mean as in “Super 100’s” wool?

This is a term originally created by the British Wool Textile Export Corporation. It refers to the degree of fineness, or more precisely, the length of fiber that can be spun from a pound of wool, i.e, the finer the wool, the greater its length per pound. It is now measured by thickness in Microns, a micron being a thousand of a millimeter. As a comparison, a human hair is about 50 microns in diameter, and the average sheep wool about 25 microns.

The higher the ‘Super’ rating, the finer the cloth, and the more expensive it becomes.

What does ‘Worsted’ mean?

Worsted is a system of spinning that uses long tightly twisted fibers, which are combed to lie parallel. The result is a strong, smooth and versatile fabric that can be made in a variety of weights according to the climate. For example, lightweight worsted wool is a very good choice for suits and trousers in warm climates or during summer. The name comes from Worsted in Norfolk, England where it was first made.

Does Egyptian Cotton come exclusively from Egypt?

Although Egypt still produces some of the world's finest cotton, hybrids of the original Egyptian species are now grown in a number of countries, including the USA, and also called ‘Egyptian Cotton’ There is currently no hallmark or guarantee of quality or originality other than experience, feel and touch. Egyptian Cotton is absolutely one of our favorites, and we only stock the highest quality available.

Why is Egyptian Cotton so highly praised?

Egyptian Cotton, especially that produced in the Nile River Valley, is one of the world's best, with long, fine fibers measuring up to 2 inches long, which contributes to its very high quality. It is strong, resilient, elegant, and very comfortable to wear.

What is ‘Mercerized’ Cotton?

This is a process named after John Mercer, who discovered it when he treated cotton with caustic soda, observing that it increased its affinity for dyes, resulting in faster colors, and a more uniform appearance. 

What is combed cotton?

Combing is a process often combined with Mercerisation. It removes all short fibers , and renders a smoother, more comfortable texture.

What's the difference between Cotton and Linen?

Cotton is made from the seed pod of the cotton plant, and linen is manufactured from the stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are stronger than cotton, and linen fabrics make excellent suits, shirts and dresses as well as bed sheets, tablecloths etc.

Where does Gabardine come from?

It does not come from a specific country. It is a term given to a tightly woven hard-wearing fabric, mostly a wool twill, often blended with rayon or cotton. Because of its durability, it is ideal for suits and jackets.

Why is a T Shirt so-called?

We had to look this one up! We are told the name originated from a US Navy undergarment issue, which was introduced in the 1880's. This was a waist-length/half sleeve garment, which when spread flat, formed a perfect letter "T".

Does Cashmere come from Kashmir?

No, it comes from the soft undercoat of the Kashmir goat, indigenous to Mongolia.

Is Cashmere the most expensive cloth?

No, this title belongs to Vicuna, which comes from the fleece of small wild animals of the same name. They belong to the llama family, and roam the high slopes in the central Andes, mostly above 5000 meters. Vicuna is the finest, softest animal fiber in the world, and the most expensive.

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