Viscose is a very popular choice of fabric and has been around for generations - first coming into use in the late 1800s. This semi-synthetic material is often used as a silk substitute, as it has a wonderful drape and luxurious shine, so is definitely a fabric you shouldn’t overlook when planning your next dressmaking project.
Here at Fabrics Galore, as viscose fabric is one of the most popular dressmaking fabrics available, we would like to answer your questions about the different variations of the material, including its origins and sustainability credentials of the newer types of viscose. Therefore, we have put together this guide to highlight the different types of viscose fabric available.
What is viscose?
Made from wood pulp, viscose is a type of rayon which is neither truly natural nor truly synthetic, falling somewhere in between. Viscose production normally begins with wood pulp, and there are several chemical and manufacturing techniques involved in its manufacture. Although viscose resembles cotton from a chemical standpoint, it can also take on many different qualities depending on how it is produced. Because of this, viscose is incredibly versatile and is found in jacket linings, t-shirts, activewear, dresses, and tunics - just to name a few examples.
Types of viscose fabric:
This viscose blend is a modern take on the classic fabric, which works well for a variety of dressmaking projects, including tops, flowing skirts and loose fitting bottoms. Twill refers to the type of weave, which is a pattern characterised by diagonal ridges. The fabric is generally perfect for any garment that requires a flowy drape.
If you are looking for another viscose blend which has a gorgeous drape, viscose crepe is a wonderful choice of material. This fabric has lots of weight and drape to it, and often used to design garments such as blouses or vintage style tea dresses. One of the reasons why this blend is so popular is because it can help you achieve looks which are hard to do with natural fibres like cotton, even giving a slight stretch to the fabric despite it not being knitted.
Although drape fabrics can be slightly more difficult to work with as a beginner, viscose lawn would be the perfect choice of fabric to achieve that same finish, but without worrying about the fabric moving too much. It is soft and drapes beautifully but is not difficult to work with.
Viscose georgette is suitable for many different garments, including scarves, shirts, dresses - and can even be used in furnishing projects for upholstery and decorative purposes. With a grainy feel, this material is woven in highly twisted yarns and is highly durable, but still drapes beautifully. The viscose blend is a much cheaper alternative to the 100% natural fabrics on the market, but still provides a wonderful finish for any project you decide to take on.
With a soft and airy feel, viscose marocaine has a crepe-like feel which is ideal for tops and trousers, as well as all types of summer dresses. It’s a medium weight material which also has a lovely drape, with a slight creasing.
If you would like to create a gorgeous, yet durable look, with your next dressmaking project, viscose satin would be the ideal choice of material for you. Viscose satin is a light-to-medium weight fabric which is perfect for any luxurious garments, such as blouses and dresses. Satin, in general, is such a beautiful fabric and this viscose blend allows you to enjoy the finish even more, as it’s easy to use and affordable.
This type of viscose fabric is notable for its softness, amazing drape and a very subtle sheen which makes it amazing as a dressmaking fabric. Javanaise refers to the type of weave as it has a spun weft and filament warp which provides the sheen. This beautiful viscose is incredibly cool and comfortable to wear, as it is so lightweight and looks fantastic due to its superb drape.
Is viscose a sustainable fabric choice?
When making fabric purchases, many customers are very conscious of the sustainability of the materials they are using. As viscose is made from renewable plants the majority of the time, it can easily be considered a sustainable option which is environmentally friendly. However, the fast fashion industry has caused this material to be produced on a huge scale, so it is quite often manufactured cheaply using energy, water, and chemically-intensive processes.
Lyocell - a sustainable viscose fabric
As we strive for a more sustainable world, extra effort is going into the manufacturing of viscose and newer versions like Lyocell are increasingly popular. Lyocell is the umbrella name for new viscose fabrics like TENCEL™, Newcell and Excel. The “Cel” refers to cellulose fibres and “Ten” refers to tenacity. As a plant-based fibre, TENCEL™ is often manufactured from wood pulp of the eucalyptus tree which grows quickly in areas otherwise unsuitable for agriculture. Eucalyptus trees don’t need irrigation or pesticides to grow and its wood pulp can be turned into lyocell viscose without the use of toxic chemicals. So viscose fabric production is finally breaking away from its reputation of being heavily chemical dependent.
Qualities of Lyocell
Fashion brands like Zara are increasingly using Lyocell in their garments as it is a hypoallergenic fabric, does not cling and is 50% more absorbent than cotton so is very popular for athleisure wear and summer clothes.
At Fabrics Galore, we are pleased to be able to offer sustainable viscose fabric blends which offer a softer, drapier version of viscose. If you would like to learn more about our range of viscose fabrics, you are more than welcome to telephone us on 020 7738 9589. You can also sign up to our free newsletter, where you can discover our latest fabrics available at Fabrics Galore.