|Textile Residues / Unspecified Composition
|Elastane / Spandex / Lycra
Acetate was one of the first man-made fibers, developed by two Swiss brother based in Basel, Switzerland. Initially focusing on cellulose acetate for use in motion picture film, the brothers Dreyfus developed a workable fiber in 1913. The first commercial acetate threads were spun in the United States in 1924 and trademarked under the name Celanese.
The material is derived from cotton or wood pulp cellulose, and through a process of acid treatments and hydrolysis, cellulose acetate is achieved. The compound is then dissolved in acetone and results in viscose resin, which is then pushed through a spinneret and emerges as filaments. In the final step of the process, the acetone solvent is evaporated through dry spinning, leaving the acetate fibers remaining. Synthetic fabrics derived from organic material have fallen from prominence, however, since the more recent emergence of readily available and less expensive petroleum-based synthetics.
Viscose and acetate fabrics are renowned for their slick and slippery textures and luxurious shine. Acetate for use in clothing is also known as rayon, and has the breathability of cotton blended with the supple feel of luxurious silk. Viscose, when combined with a variety of other components, is also used in medical devices as cellulose xanthe and as the translucent wrapping material known as cellophane.
The elegant drape of the material lends itself to beautiful accent pieces for garments as well as chic bedding and home décor. Acetate is often used in bridal party attire due to its splendid shine, while viscose jersey material is a wrinkle-resistant form of the material commonly found in athletic jerseys and other flowing garments. Care for the fabric is dependant on the specific variety, as some require dry cleaning while others are machine washable.
Linen is a lightweight and breathable fabric, used extensively in warmer climates. Linen fabric is traditionally made from flax, a finicky plant that requires a good deal of attention during its growth; for this reason (and because linen has no elasticity, making it more difficult to weave), linen tends to be more expensive than cotton.
The production of quality linen fabric is highly dependant on growing and harvesting procedures. The flax plant is either completely pulled out of the ground or cut close to the root, and the seeds are removed through a process called winnowing. Fibers are loosened from the plant stalk through the retting process, and are then ready for the scutching procedure. Scutching occurs between August and December, and involves removing the woody part of the stalk by crushing it between two rollers, leaving the fibers exposed. Shorter fibers are combed away, leaving only the long, desirable flax fibers behind.
The history of linen fabric is not nearly as well-documented as that of cotton and silk, though it is the oldest of all fabrics, and evidence of linen has been found in Swiss lake dwellings dating from 8000 BC. It may simply be that flax was taken for granted. After all, families in every country around the world had their own flax garden; it was just as natural an occurrence as fetching water from the well. However, the earliest mention of linen fabric comes from ancient Greece, where the evidence of a linen industry is shown on 4,000 year-old tablets. From there, the Phoenicians established linen trading throughout Eurasia and introduced flax cultivation to present-day Ireland. Evidence of linen’s durability is shown in its use in ancient Egyptian mummification; the linen wrappings of King Rameses II were nearly perfectly preserved after more than 3,000 years. Today, Western Europe, Ireland in particular, dominates flax and linen production in both quantity and quality.
Linen has traditionally been regarded as the “workhorse” of fabrics, relegated to use in household textiles like towels and aprons. However, since 1970, linen fabric production for apparel has increased from 5% to 70%. Though the feel of linen fabrics is less smooth than that of cotton, it is highly absorbent and far more durable. While this makes linen fabric perfectly suited for table coverings, bed coverings, curtains, and other household textiles, its durability, light weight, and breathability make it ideal for pants, shirts, and outerwear. Linen is also a favorite in the kitchen, its insulating and cooling properties making it ideal for oven mitts and napkins. Although the term “linens” now refers to any fabric that is used for bedding, towels or place settings, linen fabric will always be a superior choice for quality home décor, napkins, tablecloths and breezy summer wear.
Linen can be machine-washed and requires much less care than silk or cotton, though it does have a tendency to wrinkle. Ironing of linen should be done while damp, and only to remove wrinkles, never to dry the fabric; linen should be laid flat to dry. Linen can also attract mildew, so it should be dried thoroughly after washing and before storage.