October 18, 2011

Difference Between Fibers, Weaves & Fabric

"So this dress is really pretty, probably silk, or satin maybe". I hear it for the millionth time and I wonder - Why is fabric so confusing to people? It was confusing to me too, at first, but perhaps due to my home-ec teacher grandma, I learned at an early age that:

Fiber + Weave = Fabric

We talk to lots of vintage collectors online, and even seasoned vintage folks can be confused by this, or simply unaware of it. I understand, and I want to help if you're among the mystified.

Here's how it works. Fibers are like ingredients. Weaving them is like cooking. Fabrics are like the recipes, because they're both the instructions to weave them, and the end result.

Just as tomatoes can become marinara sauce or ketchup or many other things, silk (the ingredient) can make satin (the recipe), or taffeta, or a wispy pongee. It just depends on what it's whipped up into.

A silk fabric will behave and wear very differently than a polyester fabric, regardless of what fabric it is. It's important for us vintage hounds to know, not only for investing in quality but also in terms of caring for these beautiful old clothes.

Until next time, happy hunting! And write if my analogy doesn't work for you; I'll try to cook up another... ;)