Monday, February 04, 2013

What IS this Fabric?



Crushed Velvet
As sellers, buyers, or collectors of vintage clothing, we’ve all picked up a garment and wondered, “What fabric is this?” That often leads to more questions such as, “What’s the difference between fiber and weave? Is this fiber natural or synthetic? What’s the name of this weave?” And so on. 

Well, there’s a fantastic new resource in the vintage fashion world that can help! The Vintage Fashion Guild’s Fabric Resource is the new “go-to” place for fabric identification.

A true “labor of love” from VFG trade member Maggie Wilds (denisebrain), this resource offers descriptions and photographs of various fabrics. Five years in the making, it was the result of Maggie’s desire to make a “significant contribution” to the Vintage Fashion Guild. With a little help from friends within and outside of the VFG, her goal was realized when the Fabric Resource went online in 2012. More fabrics will be added over time to this already-extensive resource, which currently features more than 200 entries.

Brocade
Resource listings are arranged alphabetically, and there are three different search methods you can use to identify a fabric: Fabric “Looks Like,” Fabric by Fiber, Fabric by Use. The first is especially useful to novices, since you don’t need to guess at what it is, but can use its appearance alone to start narrowing down the possibilities.

The Resource also features a section extremely helpful to the experienced and inexperienced alike—Determining Fiber.  This gives tips, including the “burn test,” on how to tell a fabric’s fiber or fiber blend. Distinguishing between fiber (what a fabric is made of) and weave (how it’s fashioned into fabric, its texture, etc.) is a key factor when dealing with vintage garments, since so many pieces carry no content or care labels. In the case of online buying and selling, this information helps sellers accurately describe an item and allows buyers to make a more informed buying decision. Many sellers aren’t fully aware of the difference between fiber and weave (e.g., silk and wool are fibers, satin and twill are weaves), and will find the Fabric Resource absolutely invaluable!

Twill Weave (note the distinct diagonal pattern)
Plain Weave
                                                                               
Check out the Vintage Fashion Guild’s new Fabric Resource, and next time you need to identify a fabric, make it your very first stop!

Jacquard Knit

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