Natural, manufactured or man made? A guide to our fabrics and yarns.
JAM’s goal has always been to create stylish, natural fiber childrens garments which are comfortable, durable, soft and easy to care for. These goals frequently pull in opposite directions.
Soft means fine and fine means fragile. Natural fibers are often trickier to care for than synthetic ones and can’t be washed at high temperatures or carelessly tumble dryed. Understanding where the fiber comes from and what makes it special can help to prolong the useful life of clothes.
We compiled a list of fibers used across our collections. Read on to know your Merinos from your Rayons and your Cottons from your Nylons!
Natural fabrics and yarns mean just that – they come from nature and are derived from plants or animals.
Natural Fibers of Plant origin
Cotton – is a natural and hence biodegradable fiber of plant origin. It’s main positive qualities are its durability, softness and hypoallergenic properties. It is also absorbent and breathable. Like other natural fibers, cotton can be prone to shrinkage, which is particularly true for the knits but is less of an issue for the wovens. JAM London’s Sara Girls Dress is made of Libery’s Tana Lawn 100% cotton fabric. This fabric is really a gem – it hardly crinkles and is really fine, yet durable and strong. fine, cool, comfortable and durable, with brilliant reproduction of colours and prints.
Pima Cotton and Egyptian cotton are species of cotton with an extra long staple (or fiber). They are truly a luxury class of fibers, superior in softness and strength which can be spun into finer yarns and hence finer fabrics. Pima Cotton can be more expensive than Merino wool. In our collection Pima cotton is used in Alex T-Shirt among other styles.
Linen is a durable fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant. Its high air permeability makes it particularly well suited to making summer garments. We love linen for the slightly uneven texture of the fabric and use it across our children’s collections both in summer and in winter. Linen does crinkle easily but we always try to go for lighter weights so a gentle steam should be enough to make most of our linen designs crease free.
Natural Fibers of Animal Origin
Silk is a natural protein fiber produced by silkworms. It is one of the strongest natural materials and a great insulator, able to keep you warm in the cold weather and cool when it’s hot. Silkworms feed on mulberry leaves, so silk is a highly renewable resource with a lower carbon footprint and environmental impact than many other fibers. We don’t use silk widely in our collections as it often needs dry clean care.
Cashmere is an animal fiber forming the downy undercoat of cashmere goats. It is luxuriously soft, strong and has excellent insulating properties as the goats have adapted to the extreme changes in weather conditions in their habitat. Unfortunately, a recent surge in demand for cashmere and a corresponding surge in production has led to overgrazing, causing a strain on the environment. We do use cashmere in our garments, and some of this cashmere comes from the most respected Italian spinners such as Carriagi as in our Mila Cashmere Cardigan. One way to reduce the environmental impact from this luxury fiber is to take good care of your cashmeres so they last and can be passed on!
Merino – Merino woolcomes from the Merino breed of sheep and is truly a superior type of fiber. It is strong, breathable and a lot softer than many other types of wool, which also makes it a good choice for people who suffer from hypersensitivity to coarse yarns (often mistaken for an allergic reaction). Merino is widely featured across our collections – for example Boat Jumper and Mila Jumper. All our Merino garments can be machine washed on a wool setting, not to be mistaken for delicates or silks settings.
The grey area – natural or synthetic? Manufactured!
Viscose, Rayon, Bamboo and the like are a group of fabrics which do have a plant origin. The cellulose used in their production can come from tree or bamboo pulp. However, it would be wrong to classify this group of fabrics as “natural” due to the extensive processing the cellulose undergoes to create the final product. This type of fabric can be more appropriately classified as “manufactured”. One of the main advantages of cellulose based fibers is the wide variety of finishes and hence fabrics that can be made of cellulose – ranging from silky to stretchy to wooly. And this means a wide range of garments – from knits to dresses to shirts and trousers!
Synthetic and man made
Nylon/Polyamide is a man made polymer – contrary to the natural polymers like silk and wool. While some types of Nylon are biodegradable and some can be recycled, we generally try to avoid using it along with other man made fibers. It’s main advantage is the enhanced durability it can provide.
Mettalic yarns, such as one sold under the brand Lurex are made by applying a thin layer of metal to a plastic man made fiber. It is featured in some of our garments to add a sparkle to the knitted girls dresses or jumpers. Metallic fibers vary in coarseness, and thickness. We often put the purl side of the mettalic knit on top and use the smoother knit side on the inverse. Our Ballerina dress has Lurex knitted into the top.