A knowledge base for sewing and working with fiber blends.
Natural Fiber Blends
Best of both worlds, for instance, a cotton/linen is wonderfully soft and cool in hot climates. The wrinkles so common with 100% linen are fewer with this blend. Viscose*/linen has more drape than all linen. Linen and silk has a soft sheen that is not there with all linen and has a slight texture from the linen component. Wool and silk is more elegant than all wool, wool and lambswool or camels hair is softer and more delicate than all wool. Care instructions are tricky, but we usually suggest going conservative and complying with care methods that work for the most delicate fiber.
For information on how the addition of spandex to this fiber effects the outcome, click here.
*Viscose is rayon, generally when you see this as a fiber it is of European origin.
Traditionally a natural fiber company, in recent years SBDF has added some synthetic fibers to its line. We are seeing a higher quality of synthetics from European mills and are intrigued by the texture and hand that can be derived from these fibers. Advantages include washability and textural interest without the high cost of all natural fibers. In fact, many times surface interest is much more acute when synthetic yarns are used in combination with natural fibers.
We are using the plus category of fiber identification to indicate a mélange of yarns. Many of our European imports would not pass a burn test for 100% natural. When we pull each yarn and test, the additives are generally fancy yarns of rayon, nylon or poly. These are added to give textural interest and strength. If the fabrics are milled for import, it also helps the designer keep import fees down. If there is significant presence of a synthetic, we will do our best to spell it out. Otherwise we will use the plus category to indicate additional fibers.
Spandex (trade names include Lycra and Elastane, which is generally indicative of a European product) is added in small percentages to natural or synthetic fibers to provide comfort and increase wearability. Working with a woven that has spandex can be challenging if you do not first do some testing to be certain the fabric will work for the application you have in mind. First, for fit, you need to consider which way the stretch runs (lengthwise, crosswise or both) and adjust your pattern accordingly, using less fabric in areas of greatest ease to accommodate for the elasticity. Once you have used a stretch woven you will find the right adjustments for your favorite patterns. When deciding on style, consider using top stitching to control the bounce that you will get with details such as darts and tucks. The spandex softens the creasing and makes these tailored details less crisp. Just adding a bit of stitching to hold the line is a good solution.