Knits and open weave garments are susceptible to irregular stretching. Because garments made of acrylic fibers will stretch more easily than wool, wool knits may be a better investment. When not being worn, knits should be folded, do not hang as stretching will probably occur.
A fabric is subject to shrinkage if it has not been pre-shrunk or if it was stretched to get more yardage at a manufacturer. Examples are soft woolens, angora, drapery and upholstery fabrics. Leather and suede garments can also be subject to shrinkage. It is unwise to purchase garments that do not allow at least a little room for shrinkage.
Some garments are made of fabric with a pattern, design or color which is merely painted on or glued to the fabric surface. The surface print can be adversely affected or even lost with the gentlest care in dry-cleaning or in home washing. To identify a surface print, check to see whether the color or design totally penetrates the fabric, if it does not this garment will most likely require special care when cleaning.
Cotton knits are popular because they are fashionable, resist wrinkles, drape well and are comfortable in normal wear. Cotton knits are often not stable due to loose knit construction and lack of the resilience of the yarn and improper pre shrinkage. Some common complaints are stretching, distortion and shrinkage. Cotton knits can be dry-cleaned successfully but due to the absorptive properties of cotton, soil is not always removable because of the mild solvents used. Cotton knits should be dimensionally stable to withstand wet cleaning if necessary.
The dyes used on silk frequently bleed, resulting in color loss. Bleeding may occur in normal wear or in dry-cleaning and spotting. Perspiration will degrade silk fabric, perfumes and deodorants will adversely affect the color. Silk may chafe, split or shred in normal wear especially if the fabric is lightweight or if the garment is form-fitting.
Velvets are popular for cocktail or evening wear. The fabric pile may become flatted or distorted, especially in the seat and underarm areas. Acetate pile velvet is the least serviceable. Cotton, rayon and polyester fiber pile will resist flattening. Do not attempt any form of stain removal on velvet as the pile would become damaged permanently.
Metallic yarn fabrics (lame) are attractive but not very serviceable. Friction and mechanical action in wear may cause the fragile yarn to snap. Stains and perspiration may cause the metallic yarn to tarnish. Some metallic yarns are only surface coated and will dissolve in normal dry-cleaning.
Fading occurs when the fabric is exposed to sunlight or artificial light. The color loss is very gradual and often goes undetected until the garment is cleaned or washed. Dyes used on silks, acetate, leathers and suede’s are most susceptible to color loss or discoloration. Fading that occurs in home closets and on retail store racks is known as fume fading.