Every season, I’ve noticed, there’s a new “cool” fabric on the market. Last year was Brushed Poly jersey and Triblend jersey, the year before was Baby French Terry, Techno Scuba and Liverpool, et cetera et cetera. Just like fashion trends, the fabric world has these improved blends and fibers and weaves that elevate your sewing and broaden your horizons. A serger or overlocker has become derigueur for sewing knits, and even wovens (I certainly do!), and coverstitch machines are on most sewists’ Christmas wishlists. Why not? Stretch fabric is so much more comfortable to wear, more forgiving of small body changes and let’s face it, it’s everywhere. Today I’d like to introduce you to this year’s big buzz, Modal Spandex jersey. This post is sponsored by Brenda of Pretty Posh Prints, who has a preorder open from 6/11 to 6/15/2018 for this amazing fabric.
MODAL – The Fiber
Basically, Modal is an improved type of Rayon.
Rayon, or Viscose rayon, is a broad category of fibers that are manufactured from cellulose or wood pulp, and while it’s not entirely “man-made”, it isn’t “natural” fiber either. Unfortunately this manufacturing process comes with a measure of environmental pollution due to the caustic solvents used.
Rayon drapes well, dyes easily and is wonderfully absorbent and comfortable to wear, but ages quickly and poorly. It tends to pill and fade look worn within a few washes. Rayon-spandex blends tend to “grow” while wet, and while being worn, and yet shrink a lot in the dryer. This has made me quite wary of cheaper rayon, especially in the darker colors which tend to look greyed out due to the wear within a wash or two.
Modal is a type of rayon that is specifically produced from Beechwood fibers and trademarked by Lenzig AG, an Austrian company. The developmental process was tailored to reduce emissions and reclaim 95% of the chemicals used, which makes it much more environmentally friendly than rayon. Modal can be knit or woven fabric. It has high wet modulus and a long length fiber, as well as a more crystalline structure than viscose rayon. Today I’m giving you FIVE great reasons to snatch this fabric up!
REASON #1 – Modal Is Like Silk Without The Hassle
Modal fabric is exceptionally soft and has a lustrous sheen to it, and a texture similar to silk – often called “artificial silk”. It takes and retains dyes easily, resulting in intense, vibrant colors that don’t bleed in the wash. It is both absorbent and breathable, just like Silk, yet is easily machine washable and can go in the dryer unlike silk which does need more gentle handling. It’s much more affordable and is sourced from trees instead of silk worms, and thus a vegan fiber.
REASON #2 – Modal Does It Better Than Cotton
While cotton is soft and breathable, it is absorbent and tends to stay damp as the day goes on. Cotton fiber breaks down more easily in the wash, and its rough surface leads to hard water deposits which makes it feel more “crunchy” after washing repeatedly. Modal has a long fiber length and lower friction on the surface which helps it stay softer for longer. Modal also wicks away moisture instead of absorbing it, keeping you cool all day long – 50% more than cotton does!
REASON #3 – Modal Resists Shrinkage and Doesn’t Grow Like Viscose Rayon
The high strength of the modal fiber makes it particularly resistant to shrinkage. The long length fiber prevents pilling and wear due to friction, unlike the shorter fibers of viscose rayon and cotton. It doesn’t become misshapen in the wash, so you can dry it in the dryer unlike viscose rayon which should be laid flat to dry. The manufacturing process is friendlier to the environment, and Modal was designed to be all-around better than viscose rayon.
REASON #4 – Modal Is Breathable Unlike Polyester
I’m a huge, huge fan of double brushed poly. I’ll be the first to snatch up any polyester ITY I come across, just because it’s some of the most indestructible fabric I’ve come across. Vibrant colors, quick drying and easy to care for – who could ask for more? But come summer in Texas and I’m a sweaty, smelly mess in polyester by ten a.m. Modal to the rescue! Say it with me – it’s breathable and moisture wicking. It’s vibrant and machine washable. It’s cool to the touch. It’s the fabric you need this year, with the hottest May on record. I wouldn’t destash my polyester just yet, I’d just reserve it for flowy maxis or cooler climates. But with Modal making it’s way into fabric stores I would definitely keep an eye out for the prints, stripes and florals that are going to be hitting the market soon. Why not be stylish AND stay cool?
REASON #5 – Modal is Really Easy to Care For
100% modal fabric can be washed just like cotton – but always follow garment care tags. Chlorine bleach should be avoided as it tends to weaken the fiber, and instead use an oxygen based bleach like Oxyclean to lift stains. Stains should be treated immediately, using a paste of oxyclean and water on the stain and rubbing the fabric together to dislodge the stain, and then soaking the entire garment for two hours before washing as usual.
Dry modal clothing on low to medium temperature. Remove from the dryer when still slightly damp to prevent wrinkles on knit modal, and iron woven modal on medium-hot to make it look crisp. Always iron on the wrong side of the fabric! If the iron is too hot, you’ll burn the top fibers and have that “shiny” look that never goes away. I found a setting lower than wool is good enough, and if you’re steaming the garment do not touch the fabric with your scorching iron. You’ll thank me later.
For blends such as silk/wool and modal, follow the care instructions for the most delicate fabric in the blend.
Where to Buy MODAL
Pretty Posh Prints has a preorder opening June 11-15 2018, for some of the most popular colors. The Facebook group is here, and there’s a host of popular colors like black, slate, charcoal, olive, navy and more. I don’t know how you’re going to choose! I suggest you get them all!