Friday, October 4, 2013

Saturday School Strikes Again!

Some people spend their Friday evenings going out and being social* and having a life; I spend my Friday night scanning and studying my textiles class notes. Now that we're past all the natural fibers and on to the man-made materials, I find myself intrigued by all the possibilities of polymer science. Oh to be a high school senior applying to college again! I would totally rethink things. In the meantime (and in the absence of a viable professional student career option), I'll have to content myself with this class.

There was much more about lyocell, but I didn't illustrate it. Lyocell, or Tencel (TM), is actually so similar to rayon that the FTC didn't even recognize it as a separate fiber until the 1990s. According to our prof, due to things about patents, it's only been manufactured by one company in the US, which makes it very expensive, but the patent should be expiring soon, so hopefully we can look for cheaper lyocell soon? The sample she showed us really were wonderfully soft and buttery! The part I appreciated most, though, was that lyocell is made in an environmentally friendly manner, where the extrusion process is done in an enclosed system, meaning less pollutants in the environment, plus ease of reclaiming the chemicals for reuse. StephC of wrote about it last year, so you can check out her blurb for more information about sewing with it. 

I've seen bamboo rayon camis at Walmart (of all places!) and they definitely feel lovely, but haven't seen much in plain fabric form. [EDIT: News flash! If you haven't seen Amy's blog post about sewing with bamboo rayon jersey, go check it out! It looks deliciously soft in her pictures.]
I think my favorite doodle is the "scavenger in the wash" one. I've definitely experienced this with my formerly white nylon slips, which are now a dingy gray after being washed with our dark blue towels too many times. Fortunately for a past project of mine, this quality means that nylon is also the only artificial fiber that can be successfully tea-dyed, due to its unique chemical structure. Nylon is also known as polyamide, i.e. a hydrocarbon chain that has a bunch of amide functional groups hanging off of it. Amide groups are basic, while tea is acidic, which means that the tea molecules will bond nicely to the nylon in an acid-base neutralization reaction. For more information, take a look at Dharma Trading's helpful page about acid dyes.  

I know a lot of seamstresses are natural-fiber snobs, but honestly, I'm not one of them. Polyester has come a long way since the leisure suits of the 70s, and our prof showed us some very nice ones that beautifully mimic a number of natural fibers. Due to advances in fiber spinning/extrusion, it's possible to actually make breathable synthetic fabrics by manipulating the dope solution and the fiber cross-sections.  

Acrylic sweaters are the norm at places like Ross, while wool and cashmere are more of a Nordstrom price range. Since California really doesn't get much of a winter, I'm okay with that. Just make sure not to over-iron your acrylic, or else it'll get all flat and limp. 

I'd never heard of modacrylic or olefin, so I was on the edge of my seat for this part of the lecture! I know, I know, some people get excited about Thor 2 coming out (oh wait, that's me too), but I get excited about learning new things! I was especially pleased to be able to put a name to olefin, since I've encountered it in so many places (those priority mail bags! those couch underside covers! those onion net bags!) but never knew what it was. Also, it's totally obvious that I have no idea what snowboarding gear looks like. 

I had no idea how they made those metallic strips that one finds in cheap Halloween costumes, but now I know! 

We also talked about viscose/HWM rayon and acetate/triacetate, but I didn't illustrate those bits because I was in a sleepy pocket and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Ah, the realities of a three-hour long night class at the end of a long workday! But hey, if my mom could do it, so can I.

*Even if I were to go out and socialize, it would probably end up being like this or this.


  1. Yay more cat notes! You really could publish them! So much fun!

    (btw, I don't know if you didn't get the picture attached or my computer just won't load it no matter how I refresh the page, but I only see the caption for "modacrylic or olefin" - no illustration above it.)

    ~ Brooke

    1. A few days later, and now the picture is showing up. =)

  2. OMG, your illustrations are To.Die.For. Hilarious! I wish I could "doodle" even a little bit as well!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your drawings , as well as the descriptions of the fibers! I enjoyed reading them!

    Rose in SV

  4. Oh, I love these. So adorable and informative at the same time. I'd also love it if you could put up your notes on viscose/HWM rayon and acetate/triacetate even if they're not illustrated. I'm love to learn about them, too!

  5. I had to share a bit of serendipity. I read your post this morning and the link you posted back to 3 Hours Past. I had to run to the local Jo-Anns and found this really soft drapey pink fabric. Don't you know it was Lyocell. I happened to have multiple coupons so now it's mine. I love the info you've been sharing and the cats just make it even better!

  6. Cute Notes! It's a funun way to be a part of the class and learn new things without being there. Thanks for educating yourself and sharing with us!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your notes with us. This is so fascinating.

  8. I love your notes. I tried emulating your note-taking style in a meeting last week. Let's just say I need some practice drawing cats. Thanks for another fascinating post!

  9. I love these lessons!
    I'm in my first year of fashion at college and we aren't learning anything like this. We had one fiber identification lab where we lit little swatches on fire and that was it. I'm not getting much out of my classes since I already know how to sew, so these notes are like knowledge vitamins. Thank you for posting them! The cat drawings are great.

  10. This is such great information! Love your sketches, they're just perfect. Currently taking a sewing class, but as of first meeting no info like this. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. These posts are so entertaining and informative! Even if you might wish to rethink things, something tells me that you're an exceptional teacher.

  12. These little drawing are just so adorable!

  13. What amazing info! Do you really do these doodles in class? Surely not!

    By the way, it's a little far away now, but F&S have bamboo jersey. I got a bunch about a year ago, and it's still sitting on my shelf waiting to be something awesome. It seems like it has really fantastic recovery, so I'm guessing there's plenty of lycra in there too.

  14. very interesting info, love your catsplanations and am going to use them for my next boring meeting where I have to talk notes. It's really cool to read all this info on different types of fabrics. I learned some from Claire Schaeffers fabric guide, and some from experience, but this goes much more into the why and how of fabric charicteristics.


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