Synthetic fabrics have been around for almost a century. They have gone from periods of extreme popularity to times of being treated like cheap, unpopular fabric choices.
Rayon was introduced in 1910 in the United States. It is used in home furnishings, clothing and tires. Rayon is a fiber made from cellulose (an organic compound).
Acetate has been around longer than most other synthetic fabrics. It is second only to Rayon. It is used for making cigarette filters, clothing and furniture. It has a smooth rich feel. Acetate, like rayon is made from cellulose.
In 1939 nylon came onto the scene in a big way. The American GI’s used the stockings made from nylon to trade for many things during the war. They were considered a valuable commodity. Today nylon is used in furniture, carpets, indoor and outdoor carpeting, seat belts, parachutes, ropes, hoses and tarpaulins. Nylon is an attractive fabric and has a strong, elastic quality. It is a synthetic polyamide and shares some of the same characteristics of spandex.
In 1950 acrylic was produced from a petrochemical substance known as acrylonitile (a chemical compound). It is used for making sails, clothing and industrial cloths This amazing fabric is used to reinforce concrete and stucco and as a replacement for asbestos (a hazardous, chemical resistant fiber).
In 1958, Olefin, a very light and comfortable fabric was developed. Because it is such a strong fabric is it used to make active sportswear, in cars and trucks, industrial carpets, ropes and home furnishings. Olefin is a long chain polymer fabric.
Polyester was first developed in 1953 under its real name (polyethelyneterephthalate). When it became popular the name was changed to the shorter version. Polyester is used in cars, tires, home furnishings, all types of clothing, sails and industrial fabrics that require strength and durability. It is stays fresh in all types of weather, is wrinkle resistant and holds a crease well.
In 1959 perhaps the much abused and scoffed at fabric of them all, spandex, came into existence. It is a strong durable fabric with a lot of elasticity. Spandex is often worn for its comfort qualities. It is also used in a lot of foundation articles, such as bras and girdles because of its ability to compress. Unfortunately it has gotten a bad rap because it does not look particularly well on anyone but the shapeliest of individuals.