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The Story of Acrylic (Fibers)

The Story of Acrylic (Fibers)

I know this might seem weird and most associate the term "acrylic" with puffy paints, I know I do!   I promise, this story has much more spunk than neon colored paints.  Acrylic is a great fiber that is often substituted for wool, cotton, or cashmere.  It is so soft and is great if you have any allergies or adversions to wool.  Science does play a part in the soft fibers that acrylic is made up of and well as the story behind it!  Friends, here is the story of acrylic (fibers)!   

 Woven acrylic fibers

Woven acrylic fibers

 A fiber can be called "acrylic" in the US, if the polymer contains at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer (um not that we have to remember that, but thanks to our friends in science).  DuPont created the first acrylic fibers in 1941 and trademarked them under the name Orlon.  

 Orlon Advertisement

Orlon Advertisement

It was first developed in the mid-1940s but was not produced in large quantities until the 1950s. Strong and warm, acrylic fiber is used for sweaters, linings for boots, and gloves.  It is manufactured as a filament, then cut into short staple lengths similar to wool hairs, and spun into yarn.

 Orlon suit pictured

Orlon suit pictured

Acrylic is lightweight, soft, and warm, with a wool-like feel, and can often mimic other fibers, such as cotton.  Some acrylic is used in clothing as a less expensive alternative to cashmere, due to the similar feeling of the materials. Some acrylic fabrics may fuzz or pill easily, though there are low-pilling variants. Acrylic takes color well, is washable, and is generally hypoallergenic which is an added bonus!  Garments such as socks, hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, and home furnishing fabrics are all made with acrylic.  If you do not like to wear real fur, acrylic is a very stylish alternative and a fraction of the cost.  

 Orlon ad from 1950s

Orlon ad from 1950s

Acrylic is the "workhorse" fiber for those who knit or crochet, acrylic yarn is typically priced lower than its natural-fiber counterparts.  What?  That's right, acrylic is cheap and durable.  How's that for great value and strength?  I know it is not as fancy as cashmere or wool but it is a great fabric to wear.  

 Acrylic scarf

Acrylic scarf

The first time i touched an acrylic scarf, I couldn't believe it's soft comfortable texture and not to mention the price tag.  Acrylic is a mere fraction of the price and feels just as great.  You might be wondering why everyone isn't crazy for acrylic.  The reason is that most prefer the luxurious fibers and do not realize that there is another option.  Everyone likes options, right?  Give acrylic a chance and you might be pleasantly surprised.  

 

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