A popular fabric that resembles natural wool to many, is actually a synthetic fabric that retains its color and shape well for a long period of time. It is pleasant to the touch, soft and beautiful material, which differs from wool in the possibility of dyeing in brighter and clearer shades. The most popular use is to create warm accessories and clothing such as hats, gloves and sweaters.
Acrylic – what is this material and how does it look
Acrylic is a soft, modern, lightweight material that is made from synthetic fibers. There are other names for this fabric, for example, itron, redon, krilor or orlon. You can combine all these complex names in one word – polyacrylonitrile.
The history of acrylic began not so long ago. It was first produced in the American company Dupont in the 40s of the XX century. Employees of this company sought to develop a new type of fiber, and by 1948 they managed to create a material called orlon. Thanks to this invention, scientists managed to slightly push back the nylon that was popular at that time. However, the orlon was difficult to dye, so the development of new fibers continued. In 1952, acrylic was born, which borrowed all the best from orlon, and was also much easier to paint.
The composition of the fabric may vary depending on the percentage of acrylic fibers in the composition: they are presented both in pure form and in combination with other fibers. Usually the addition of other materials gives the fabric new positive properties, for example, increase the service life. Acrylic fibers are added in a ratio of 100% to 5% in the production of popular materials. So, when creating a coat fabric, acrylic is often added to wool , angora or cotton . The more natural fibers in the composition, the more comfortable acrylic will be for daily wear. Mixed variations expand the scope of acrylic: in combination with polyester, such fabric qualities as strength and moisture resistance increase.
Acrylic manufacturers are based on natural gas, which is a key material from which acetylene (flammable gas) and hydrocyanic acid (hydrogen cyanide solution) are extracted. Without them, the production of acrylic fibers would be impossible. The essence of creating acrylic is a complex chemical reaction.
In production, acrylic is a continuous thread. The structure of such a finished thread further allows a completely smooth material surface and a clear weave pattern to be achieved. This is how acrylic fibers differ from wool yarn.
To achieve a more unusual texture, such a continuous synthetic fiber is cut into smaller segments, each of which has the same size – these pieces are called staples. The material made from staple yarn is visually very similar to natural wool, so sometimes acrylic fabric is also called “artificial wool”.
Despite the fact that acrylic is not a natural material, this quality fabric has many features for which it is appreciated:
Hypoallergenic. Synthetic clothing is often treated with prejudice precisely because of possible skin reactions. However, not everyone remembers, but it is wool that can cause allergies. And things that are created from acrylic are suitable for people even with sensitive skin, for example, children or allergy sufferers. This is an important characteristic of a durable and very unpretentious acrylic fabric.
Comfortable to wear, soft, delicate to the touch. Many people confuse acrylic with wool, and it is not surprising that they are similar not only in their ability to retain heat, but also in pleasant tactile qualities.
Wear resistance. Acrylic products can be dry-cleaned, as these fibers are insensitive to solvents. In addition, acrylic perfectly tolerates a variety of weather conditions, therefore, when creating outerwear, craftsmen prefer this particular material.
Presentability. Acrylic does not wrinkle at all and keeps its shape well, therefore it retains a decent appearance even after prolonged wear. Acrylic items always look neat. This feature is relevant for creating an evening look, when any flaw can spoil the overall impression of the image.
Hue durability. Of course, it all depends on the method of dyeing, but most often acrylic fibers lend themselves well to dyeing and retain their color vibrancy for a long time even after several washes.
natural fabric or not
Since acrylic resembles wool in many ways, some users mistakenly consider it to be natural. Acrylic is a synthetically produced fabric that is obtained through a complex chemical reaction from natural gas. The fibers of this material are strong and smooth, thanks to which professionals can create the most accurate likeness of wool from a uniform weave. This feature allows the use of acrylic for the widespread sewing of warm clothes, which can be difficult to distinguish from wool.
The most effective way to check the authenticity of the material is to experiment with burning a small piece of cloth. In the case of wool, when set on fire, the burnt part will be rubbed into ashes. Since acrylic is not a natural material, when burned, it will melt, emit a characteristic sour smell, accompanied by black smoke. In addition, it will be impossible to grind it into ashes.
Softness, comfort to wear. With these properties, acrylic resembles wool.
Heat preservation. Acrylic has low thermal conductivity, so in such products you will be warm even in the cold season.
No risk of exposure to dust mites or moths.
High color and print fastness. Acrylic fibers lend themselves perfectly to dyeing, the brightness of the shades is preserved even after numerous washes.
After contact with moisture, for example, during washing, acrylic products dry quickly, do not lose their shape, do not stretch or wear out even under the influence of various chemicals.
Acrylic has a lot of positive qualities, but it is impossible not to mention the disadvantages, which can be an important factor in the purchase decision.
The fabric is highly electrified during wear or drying at high temperatures. This problem can be solved by using antistatic sprays.
If you dry the acrylic product for too long, the thing may become too hard and unpleasant to the touch. The same applies to a long stay in the open sun: acrylic loses its inherent softness and tenderness under the influence of light. Therefore, be careful when caring for acrylic, it is better to avoid purchasing this material for sewing a children’s wardrobe.
Prolonged wear can lead to the appearance of pellets on the surface of the fabric.
Low air exchange. You will be warm in an acrylic product, but due to poor air exchange performance, perspiration may increase.
It is difficult to remove greasy stains from acrylic canvas, as they are especially easily absorbed into the fibers.
Tailoring of casual clothes and accessories: suits, sweaters, hats, scarves and knitted dresses. For the production of these things, not pure acrylic is often used, but mixed options, for example, acrylic fibers in combination with natural fibers of wool or cotton. Acrylic can also act as a lining for insulation or to increase the wear resistance of the product.
Textiles for transport, furniture, home: upholstery for armchairs, sofas, various carpets, curtains, children’s toys, knitting yarn.
Overalls, workwear or outerwear: warm and durable acrylic withstands various physical impacts.
Covers, awnings, banners, signs: since acrylic retains its shape and color perfectly even in harsh weather conditions, it is loved to be used to create products that have to spend a lot of time outdoors under the influence of a wide variety of temperatures.
Despite the fact that this is a rather unpretentious material in operation, there are several recommendations that will significantly extend the life of an acrylic product:
It is acceptable to use dry cleaning services, as acrylic is resistant to chemical attack.
Avoid frequent contact with water, do not wash more than once every two weeks.
Do not allow washing in too hot water, the optimum temperature is no more than 30 degrees when it comes to machine washing.
It is preferable to wash the item by hand. At the same time, do not wring out or twist the products after washing. It is enough just to lay them out horizontally on a smooth surface and wait for them to dry.
Ironing is not worth it, as things do not wrinkle. However, if there is an urgent need, choose the minimum heating mode and use additional matter, such as mesh or gauze.
Even the softest and most delicate acrylic pieces can easily become uncomfortably hard if not cared for properly, so avoid overdrying or prolonged exposure to bright light.
Despite our universal recommendations, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before performing any manipulations.
Acrylic products can be subjected to different types of washing: hand, machine and dry. So that things do not look worse or lose their smooth and pleasant to the touch surface, manufacturers do not recommend choosing a too hot mode in the machine. It is better to turn off the spin or set it to the minimum speed. Permissible washing temperature up to + 30°С.
To prevent creases, we advise you to put very few things in the drum, for example, two or three in a bag or thin pillowcase.
Select the manual wash mode.
To maintain softness, it is better to wash with the addition of conditioner in a special section for rinsing.
To prevent the thing from deforming, we recommend washing acrylic products by hand. If stains are present, they should be rubbed with soap in advance and left for 15 minutes or soaked in non-cold water with detergent. At the last rinse, antistatic is poured. Squeeze with light crushing movements and lay out horizontally on the dryer.
For more detailed washing recommendations for acrylic, it is better to study on the label. Many manufacturers recommend dry cleaning and indicate the temperature regime of ironing.