Learn About: Semi-Synthetic​ Fabrics

In this new series on my blog, I explain about natural and synthetic fabrics. There is a category that fits in the middle, which I am going to write about here. I am talking about semi-synthetic fabrics. Those fabrics are made from a combination of a natural raw material with a synthetic material. The most common natural materials are wood pulp, beech trees, eucalyptus tree, and bamboo.
Today, I am explaining to you the advantages and disadvantages of the most common semi-synthetic fibers.

Rayon

is fabricated from wood pulp. It is combined with synthetic materials through a chemical process and then turned into fibers.
Rayon is:

  • Soft
  • Cheap
  • Smooth
  • Easy to dye
  • Comfortable
  • Highly absorbent
  • Versatile – It can imitate the feel and texture of silk, wool, cotton, and linen

The disadvantages of rayon are:

  • Bad quality
  • Pills easily
  • Wrinkles
  • Shrinks
  • Loses appearance and shape when wet
  • There are toxic dyes and bleach in the production process
  • Workers can be seriously harmed by the carbon disulfide used in the production
  • Because it comes from trees, it might contribute to deforestation problems

Rayon fabric

Viscose

is a type of rayon. Both rayon and viscose share the same manufacturing process but they differ in the materials used. Rayon can be made with cellulose from a variety of plants, viscose is made from wood pulp or cotton linter.
Viscose is:

  • Soft
  • Cheap
  • Breathable
  • Easy to dye
  • Smooth – Drapes beautifully
  • Feels like silk – Known to be a cruelty-free kind of silk

The disadvantages of viscose are:

  • Difficult to wash
  • Not durable – due to its high concentration of caustic soda
  • Prone to stretching and bagging
  • Loses appearance and shape when wet
  • Highly absorbent – Which may result in spots
  • There are toxic dyes and bleach in the production process
  • Workers can be seriously harmed by the carbon disulfide used in the production
  • Because it comes from trees, it might contribute to deforestation problems

Modal

is a type of rayon, made by spinning reconstituted cellulose, from beech trees. While rayon may be made of the wood pulp of a number of different trees, modal uses only beechwood
Modal is:

  • Soft
  • Shiny
  • Comfortable
  • Absorbent
  • Easy to care

  • Easy to dye

  • Smooth – Drapes beautifully
  • Feels like silk – Known to be a cruelty-free kind of silk
  • Breathable – Good material for sport clothes

The disadvantages of modal are:

  • Prone to stretching and pilling.
  • There are toxic dyes and bleach in the production process
  • Workers can be seriously harmed by the carbon disulfide used in the production
  • Because it comes from trees, it might contribute to deforestation problems

Modal fabric

Lyocell

is a type of rayon. Made by dissolving bleached wood pulp.
Lyocell is:

  • Soft
  • Absorbent
  • Expensive to produce
  • Shiny – Silk appearance
  • Very strong when wet or dry
  • Resistant to wrinkles
  • Easy to wash

  • Drapes well
  • Can simulate a variety of textures such as suede, leather, and silk
  • The production creates little waste

The disadvantages of Lyocell are:

  • Prone to pilling
  • Uses a lot of chemical in the production process
  • Difficult for dyes to bind to it – The dyes required are toxic

Bamboo

is a fiber that is extracted from natural bamboo. The production is similar to the one of rayon, but instead of using wood pulp, it uses bamboo.
Bamboo is:

  • Anti-static
  • Easy to dye
  • Soft – With a texture similar to silk
  • Breathable and absorbent – It keeps the skin dry and odor free
  • It has the ability to regulate body temperature
  • The production doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers
  • The plant grows very fast – It regenerates after being cut without the need of replanting (similar to lawn)
  • Biodegradable

The disadvantages of bamboo are:

  • Pills very easy
  • There are toxic chemicals in the production process
  • The fibers absorb a lot of sweat and can encourage microbial growth

Bamboo fabric

While the production of semi-synthetic fibers uses natural raw materials, the transformation to fabric and garments use many harsh, even toxic and chemicals in the processes. As you can see, all of the fibers have advantages and disadvantages. I personally find semi-synthetic fibers too harmful in general. I prefer to buy and wear garments from natural fibers as much as possible. This is a personal decision but whatever you choose, it’s good to know about the fabric of your garments. I hope you find this information useful and will help you to become more aware of semi-synthetic fabrics. If you want to learn more about natural and synthetic fibers, you can read my latest post about this subject here, and here.

With Love,

Alisson

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