Silk Shopping Spree

So this is the end of natural fibers series, but before I move on to chemical fibers, I would like you to take a shopping tour with me. Today, we will look at silk clothes. Of course, silk is rather expensive. If it’s not, it is probably second rate silk but can be nice to the touch as well. Take a look at what beautiful silk clothes I found and let’s go to silk shopping spree!

Dresses

silk dresses 1

One | Two | Three | Four

silk dresses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Pants

silk pants 1

One | Two | Three | Four

silk pants 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Skirts

skirts 1

One | Two | Three | Four

skirts 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Blouses & Tops

blouses 1

One | Two | ThreeFour

blouses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Blazers

blazers

One | Two | Three | Four

Scarves

scarves 1

One | Two | Three | Four

scarves 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

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Natural fibers: cashmere and fine wool

Fine wool is very soft, delicate and has a slight sheen. Animals that provide the wool are rare; therefore the clothes made of it are expensive. There are different kinds of fine wool: cashmere, mohair, alpaca and angora. I will elaborate a little more on cashmere.

cashmere

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Cashmere

This is really expensive wool that is obtained by combing or pulling out the 40-90 mm down from cashmere goats. The goats can be found mainly in China and Mongolia.

There are two kinds of cashmere wool: there is the one made of soft fibers but there is also the one made of other, more coarse fibers of the same goat. Soft cashmere is very expensive and it can cost over $250. The second type is sold in chain stores and is usually not that expensive. Nevertheless, I recommend buying even the second-grade cashmere scarf or cashmere sweater to see for yourself how amazing this fabric is. Besides sweaters I also own a cashmere cardigan and I will not stop at that, the softness of this fabric is a little addictive.

Cashmere can occur in different colors: grey, brown, white and sometimes black. It is divided into colors. The natural color of the fiber can be erased by dry cleaning; the fabric can then lose its softness but gain durability.

mohair

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Mohair

It comes from the hair of angora goats. It is very silky and shiny, and expensive as well. Mohair fibers are long, fluffy and light. It can be dyed easily. As with most wools, it is very prone to pilling. However, it is also durable, unlike other mentioned wools.

Alpaca

Alpaca wool is one of the most valuable wools in the world. It comes from hair of alpaca, which physically resembles a llama. It is hypoallergenic and the fibers are very soft and lustrous. Alpaca fleece is warmer and more durable than sheep wool fleece.

Angora

Angora wool comes from the hair of Angora rabbit (and not angora goat!). The wool is soft, silky and light. The fibers are quick to absorb steam, so if you have angora sweater, instead of ironing it, put it in the bathroom during and after the shower. The steam will cause the fibers to fall into the right place; they will not be in disarray anymore. Angora is most often used in winter accessories, such as ski or medical underwear.

angora

Advantages

Cashmere and the other mentioned types of wool are the most delicate and soft of all wools. They are also very light and have a slight sheen. The wrinkling is practically inexistent. They give an impression of luxury and elegance (because they obviously are luxurious as well as elegant).

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, fine wool is not very durable because of its delicacy (mohair is an exception). It wears through easily, although not as much if it is two- or three-ply yarn. Additionally, when the wool is made of short fibers, it can be very prone to pilling.

Maintenance

The maintenance is the same as in the case of regular wool. Click to go to the article about wool.

Side note

Wool blends are also worth buying, especially if it contains less than 20% of the additional fabric. It helps to minimize the negative qualities of pure wool.

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Natural fibers: wool

Wool comes from different kinds of sheep breed. The properties and quality of the wool depends on the sheep breed and delicacy. During shearing, it is important to be careful and not to cut the sheep or tear the fleece. Then, the fleece must be washed of impurities and dirt.

wool yarn

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There are a number of processes that can prevent some negative qualities of the fabric and enrich it, such as decatizing (to make the fabric stronger and smoother) or superwash (to make it smoother, silky and delicate).

There are different names for the textiles that you can find on your clothes’ labels.

Virgin or new wool

Those names refer to wool that has never been used before. It comes from the first shearing of a sheep and is for the first time processed and made into clothing. It has all the positive properties that other wools have. Such textiles are marked “pure new/virgin wool”.

wool sweaters

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Remanufactured wool

It is a fabric that comes from production scraps or used clothing. Its fibers are less elastic and shorter than those of virgin wool. Such textiles are described as “pure wool”.

Merino wool

It is the most valuable wool fabric. Those particular sheep live in a climate in which there are very high variations of temperature. This causes the sheep’s hair to shrink and expand dynamically and this quality stays even after shearing and processing the fibers. The fleece is is also very fine.

wool blanket

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Advantages

It is anti-static and very elastic, which means it will not wrinkle easily. It can absorb large amounts of water. This fabric is also resistant to getting dirty. It is great in winter as it evens out the temperature, and this way we will not feel too cold or too warm in it. What is more, the fabric has a slight sheen and is resistant to deformations. It can be dyed and it is flame resistant.

Disadvantages

When improperly cared for, it can shrink and have tendencies to pilling. It dries slowly and is not resistant to abrasion. Moreover, it can cause allergies.

woolmark

To make sure that you buy the highest quality wool clothing, look for the Woolmark sign (the picture above). It means that the Woolmark Company thoroughly checked and guaranteed the quality of this wool. It is used to describe 100% pure new/virgin wool. There are also signs that mark the Woolmark Blend, which means that the fabric must contain at least 50% pure new/virgin wool. Wool Blend, on the other hand, means that the fabric must contain at least 25% pure new/virgin wool.

Maintenance

You should wash the fabric manually in cold (30°C/86°F) water or in the last resort, in the washing machine that has such option. Use special washing liquids for this kind of fabric. It can be dry cleaned with a special chemical substance. After washing, get rid of excess water by putting, for example, the sweater on dry towel and roll it in the towel.

Do not dry the clothes in the sunlight or near radiators. Also, do not tumble dry. Under any circumstances, do not dry the clothes hanging; they should always be in lying position, otherwise they will stretch.

Ironing is possible in 150°C/300°F and it is best to use steam. Another option is to put damp towel over the clothing and iron it this way.

Do not use chlorine.

As usual, look at the maintenance label first to find out if you need to do something differently. If you cut off the label, use the instruction above.

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Natural fibers: silk

Welcome to the second part of natural fibers series. In this article I will cover silk, which is a natural animal fiber. The fiber is obtained from the cocoons of the mulberry silkworm (sericulture) or of the oak silkworm (wild silk). The mulberry silkworm caterpillar pupates by means of double thread, which measures up to 2500 meters (or 8200 ft) and that is how it builds its cocoon. Out of such cocoons the silk fiber is extracted.

Typical silk textiles are chiffon, satin and damask.

silk cocoons

Advantages

There are many positive qualities of this fabric. It is shiny, delicate and pleasant to the touch. I am sure you would not expect that it is also very durable and elastic; it can stretch to 30%. It is anti-static because it always contains some moisture and usually does not wrinkle (the only exception is when silk is very delicate and smooth). It absorbs a fair amount of moisture without feeling wet to the touch. Finally, it is considered to be cool but at the same time it retains the warm air well during cold weather. Those properties make this textile perfect to wear in the summer months as well as in the colder weather.

Disadvantages

It wrinkles when damp, for example because of the sweat. The fabric can change its color due to exposition to the sunlight or artificial light. Sweat, deodorants or perfumes may also cause discoloring. Despite the fact that silk is durable, elastic, etc., it has to be taken care of properly and delicately, which may sometimes be upsetting.

Personal note: the quality of the fabric is very important. I am convinced that you will not get high quality silk at a bargain price. I used to have a pure silk blouse from Mango and it wrinkled a lot, and after the first wash (I washed it by hand) it was very rough to the touch. However, when looking at Michael Kors silk blouses, I noticed that even when I squeezed the fabric very hard, it did not wrinkle. It was also amazingly soft. This is just a warning for you to be careful where you buy silk clothing, and not an advertisement of MK.

silk lingerie

Silk maintenance

Washing the fabric manually is recommended. You need to use mild detergents when washing it and do not rub the fabric. Always wash in cold temperatures and add a very small amount of white vinegar to the last rinsing (it helps to keep the color intact). Never dry it in the sunlight and do not tumble dry. It is best to dry clean it if you own colored silk or very delicate and sensitive clothing.

As for ironing, do it without steam, because it can cause stains. The temperature of ironing should range from 120°C /250°F to 150°C/300°F.

Do not use chlorine.

As usual, I have to remind you that it is best to read the label first. You don’t want to ruin your expensive and beautiful clothing.

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Linen Shopping Spree

Today I’m taking you on linen shopping spree. It was a lot of fun picking out the clothes for you, although also a little frustrating because I wanted to choose only 100% linen clothes. However, I did not succeed, so there is linen with additional fibers as well. Actually additions are not so bad, they can improve the properties of the fabric, such as wrinkling.

100% linen, unlike cotton, is not perfect for every occasion. You must remember it wrinkles, so it will not be appropriate on very formal events. That is why choosing linen clothes with additions of other fabrics can be beneficial: not only will you feel the coolness that linen gives, but also it will not wrinkle that much. I found amazing dresses that I share with you below and my favorite is number 5. Enjoy!

Dresses

linen dresses 1

One | Two | Three | Four

linen dresses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Pants & shorts

linen pants

One | Two | Three | Four

linen shorts

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Skirts

linen dresses 1

One | Two | Three | Four

linen dresses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Blouses

linen blouses 1

One | Two | Three | Four

linen blouses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Jackets

linen jackets

One | Two | Three | Four

Thanks for going on this shopping spree with me. I hope you enjoyed it and I invite you to visit more often. Next article coming soon – this time about silk!

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Cotton Shopping Spree

Shopping spree post is a little summary of what I wrote about in the previous articles. As it turns out, it is worth buying cotton and linen clothes. And of course, it may be nice to have bamboo, coconut or ramie additions in the fabric. Those natural fibers are great for summer.

To summarize, cotton is great for everyday clothing: t-shirts, denim, sleepwear, socks. Below I prepared some collages with clothes made of cotton. It wasn’t particularly easy, I must say, because I also wanted the clothes to be pretty but I hope the effect is worth your time. I wanted to choose something from almost every price range and for women. It was hard to find only 100% cotton clothes, so I included blends with some acceptable fabrics that I am to write about in the future, for example rayon or viscose. Come with me on the cotton shopping spree!

Dresses

dresses shopping spree

One | Two | Three | Four

dresses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Pants & shorts

cotton pants

One | Two | Three | Four

cotton shorts

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Skirts

cotton skirts 1

One | Two | Three | Four

cotton skirts 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Blouses

cotton blouses 1

One | Two | Three | Four

cotton blouses 2

Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Jackets

cotton jackets

One | Two | Three | Four

That is it for now. I hope you enjoyed it! The coming articles are going to be about natural animal fibers, which means silk, wool, cashmere and other amazing fabrics.

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Natural fibers: bamboo, ramie, jute, coconut

This is a rather condensed article about other natural fibers mentioned in the title. Bamboo, jute, ramie and coconut do not occur in clothes that much especially compared to cotton and linen. They are often just an addition. However, as I always say, it is worth to know something about them, just so you know what to expect of them.

Bamboo

bamboo natural fibers

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Cellulose from bamboo is used to produce viscose, which should be called viscose rayon or bamboo viscose on the label. The manufacture of this textile does not differ much from viscose production, which is why technically bamboo should be placed in artificial fibers section and not in natural fibers.

Bamboo textiles are widely used in socks, for example. Producers of bamboo viscose often advertise their products as ecological and antibacterial and the actual bamboo fibers do have those properties. However, after the manufacturing process, those qualities are lost, which means that the clothes and accessories made of bamboo viscose are not antibacterial, hypoallergenic or ecological. The properties of this textile will fall between the properties of cotton and viscose.

It is worth remembering that manufacturing process puts bamboo textiles in chemical, artificial fibers section.

Ecological note: bamboo textile production is not very ecological because of the large amounts of very strong chemical solvents that are used in the manufacturing process. However, it is more ecological than viscose and cotton.

Ramie

ramie

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Ramie is a perennial nettle plant and it can be harvested for about 25 years. It is mostly grown in the Far East, in China. It is often considered to be the “Far East linen”.

The advantages of ramie textiles are similar to cotton and linen. It is soft to the touch with a silky shine, very durable and chemically resistant. It does not become yellow after exposing it to the sun too much. Ramie absorbs fair amounts of water and it doesn’t rot. Last but not least, it has smooth and even fibers, and it can be dyed easily.

Generally ramie can be washed in 95°C/200°F and ironed in the highest temperatures. However, you need to remember this applies to 100% ramie textile and most of the time you will encounter only additions of ramie. In that case, read the label first.

Jute

jute

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Jute fibers are very woody and extremely strong. It is used mostly to manufacture packaging textiles, ropes, mattings and twine. Jute products have a little bit of luster, especially mattings. It is a cheap and very versatile fiber.

Ecological note: jute fiber is 100% recyclable and biodegradable.

Coconut

coconut

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Coconut fiber is also called coir and it is made of coconut husk. The fibers can be white or brown; white fibers come from immature, green coconuts and brown fibers come from mature coconuts.

Coconut fibers are very durable, elastic and resistant to rubbing, which makes them great in the production of ropes, nets, mattresses, brushes or doormats. They are also resistant to dirt.

Of course, there are more vegetable, natural fibers which I will not discuss here, such as sisal, manila hemp, kapok or kenaf fibers.

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Natural fibers: linen

Linen fabric is produced of a flax plant, which has light blue or white flowers. It should be grown in maritime or moderate climate. The 80-120 centimeters long plant is usually pulled out with the root, in order to preserve its length, or cut close to the root. Fibers are extracted from the stalk of the plant.

flax flowers

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There are several stages of making a linen fabric, which I will not go into details with, because it is not necessary. The way that the fiber is processed is inefficient and very laborious, which may be why linen clothing is rather expensive.

Linen fibers are quite similar to cotton fibers, as they are mostly made of cellulose. Compared to cotton, however, they have smoother surface. In addition, it is rigid and inflexible.

Advantages

First and most important advantage of linen is that it is an excellent fabric for summer. It is cool to the touch, which is why this fabric has cooling properties. As mentioned before, its surface is smooth, so it has a natural shine. It is very hygienic because of its resistance to boiling. It does not have the tendency to pilling, nor to pick up static. It also does not get dirty easily.

Compared to cotton, it is more durable and strong. It also can absorb fair amount of water without feeling too sticky to the body. Similarly to cotton, it does not cause allergies.

linen fabric

Disadvantages

I am sure you know the most irritating disadvantage of linen: it wrinkles very, very easily, because it is not elastic. That is why I recommend clothes with some additions of other fabrics, such as cotton. It will help a little bit with wrinkling. Some people say that wrinkling is a special charm of this fabric. However, when the fabric always wrinkles in the same place, its threads can eventually break.

What is more, it does not stretch at all (low elasticity) and does not keep the clothes’ shape very well.

Ethical note: the production of linen requires rather large amounts of water (to wet the fibers). It is slowly changing to other methods that don’t need such huge amounts of water, though.

Quality note

You may notice in some clothes that they have characteristic small knots in the fabric. They are rather normal and not considered a defect. They do not mean that the quality of the fabric is low, especially when found on linen sheets, bedding or furnishings. Still, the small knots do not appear in the finest linen fabric.

Linen Maintenance

The maintenance of this fabric is quite easy. White linen can be washed in 95°C/200°F and colored in 60°C/140°F. Whitening with chlorine bleach and drying in tumble drier is possible. You can also dry clean it.

You can iron linen clothes in high temperature up to 220°C/428°F, and it is easier to iron when the fabric is damp.

As usual I need to remind you that it is best to read the label for laundry and maintenance instructions, and the above are just guidelines.

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