Croft Mill

Facts about Viscose Fabric

First created by a French industrial scientist almost 140 years ago in 1883 as a low-cost alternative to silk, viscose has grown to become the third most-used textile on the planet. The process of making the fabric, sometimes referred to as 'rayon', was perfected and patented by British scientists in 1892, becoming widely available by 1905.

So, what is viscose, how is it made and what are its qualities? This edition of the Croft Mill blog will look in more detail at the wonderful world of viscose fabric.

As it is made using cellulose, viscose is thus a 'cellulosic fabric'. Around six million tonnes of cellulose fibre is produced every year for the textile industries, with Grand View Research forecasting that this is set to grow by at least 8% each year up to 2025.

Before it became widely known as 'viscose fabric', the material was referred to as 'artificial silk'; the term 'rayon' was not coined until 1924. The word 'viscose' is derived from the manufacturing process, in which a viscous liquid is used. Viscose is classed as a semi-synthetic fabric as it is neither completely natural like wool or cotton but also not completely synthetic like polyester or nylon.

Viscose fabrics begin as cellulose, a carbohydrate that is the primary component of plant walls. The cellulose used to make viscose fabric is sourced from a wide variety of plants and trees including sugar cane, soy, bamboo, eucalyptus, pine and beech. Dissolving the cellulose in various chemicals produces a solution of wood pulp.

Using a machine called a 'spinneret', the solution is spun to produce fibres, which are then made into threads. These threads are then either knitted or woven to produce a wide array of different types of viscose fabric.

Viscose is prized for its many qualities which include:

  • Versatility. The many different types of viscose that can be produced allow for an infinite variety of uses.
  • Breathability. Light and airy, viscose fabric doesn't stick to the body and so is perfect for creating nightwear, bedding and summer clothing.
  • Drape. Viscose fabric is famed for its delightful and elegant draping qualities.
  • Dye Retention. The material holds dye exceptionally well and so garments made using viscose stay bright and beautiful for a long time. 
  • Absorbency. The absorbent qualities of viscose fabrics make them ideal for crafting activewear and leisurewear.
  • Strength. Despite its lightweight, the fabric is very strong and durable. 

Here at Croft Mill, we have over 350 different viscose fabrics in a comprehensive collection of types including jersey, poplin, lawn, twill and challis, as well as a selection of Tencel and Lyocell. Please browse our website to discover the complete collection.

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