Performance with beauty
describes the potential of microfibers. They are very fine fibres compared to more conventional forms which gives them unique and desirable properties. To provide a measure for comparison, microfibers are half the diameter of a fine silk fibre, one-third the diameter of cotton, one-quarter the diameter of fine wool, and one hundred times finer than human hair.
So what is so special about very fine or microfibers? The many fine fibres packed together create a depth and a body to fabrics from which they are made. Fabrics have luxurious drape. Although fine and lightweight, they don’t exhibit a flimsy quality. The many tiny filaments or fibres can slide back and forth and manoeuvre around within the yarns in a fabric allowing the fabric to flow and drape freely, yet still possess body.
Properties of Microfiber Fabrics
Microfiber fabrics are generally lightweight, resilient or resist wrinkling, have a luxurious drape and body, retain shape, and resist pilling. Also, they are relatively strong and durable in relation to other fabrics of similar weight.
Because microfibers are so fine, many fibres can be packed together very tightly. The denseness results in other desirable properties. With many more fine fibres required to form a yarn, greater fibre surface area results making deeper, richer and brighter colours possible.
Also, since fine yarns can be packed tightly together, microfibers work well in garments requiring wind resistance and water repellency. Yet, the spaces between the yarns are porous enough to breathe and wick body moisture away from the body. When comparing two similar fabrics, one made from a conventional fiber and one from a microfiber, generally the microfiber fabric will be more breathable and more comfortable to wear. Microfibers seem to be less “clammy” in warm weather than conventional synthetics.
One caution related to synthetic microfibers is heat sensitivity. Because the fiber strands are so fine, heat penetrates more quickly than with thicker conventional fibers. As a result, microfibers are more heat sensitive and will scorch or glaze if too much heat is applied or if it is applied for too long a period. Generally, microfibers are wrinkle resistant, but if pressing is needed at home or by dry-cleaners, care should be taken to use lower temperatures.
Caring for Microfibers
Microfibers can generally be cared for in a manner similar to that of conventional fibres made from the same fibre type. For example, fabrics made from polyester and nylon microfibers can probably be machine washed and tumble dried similar to fabrics made from regular polyester and nylon fibres. Polynosic or high wet modulus rayons are machine washable while viscose rayons perform best when drycleaned. Rayon microfiber should be cared for depending on whether it is a polynosic or viscose-type rayon. The fibre properties, not the fineness of the fibre, usually dictate recommended care. Always follow care labels on ball bands or garments.
A few cautions should be noted regarding microfibers. Because they are very fine or small diameter, heat penetrates the fibers more quickly than thicker fibers. As a result, glazing, melting or scorching can occur quickly. This is a particular concern with heat sensitive fibers such as polyester or nylon. Use a cool iron, if pressing is necessary, and do not leave the iron on the fabric too long. Also, avoid using too much pressure as shine and ridges may develop on the surface.
Static may develop in fabrics from synthetic microfibers, especially during dry winter months when heating systems are turned on and the humidity is low. Fabric softeners in the rinse cycle of the washing machine may lessen the problem. Paper dryer sheets can be used; however, temporary spots from excessive heat in the dryer may form on the microfiber. The delicate finish of microfiber fabrics and the amount of fiber surface make the spots noticeable if they develop.
As with all fine garments, avoid jewellery that is rough or jagged. It can cause pulls, snags or general abrasion to garments. Although microfibers in a yarn are strong, the individual fibres are extremely fine and could abrade easily.
Enjoy microfiber garments in your wardrobe. They have a luxurious silk-like hand. Generally, microfibers are durable and should provide good wear if used appropriately and cared for properly.