Thursday, September 5, 2013

Then and Now - Swimsuits From the 1930's

If I go to a fabric store to make a purchase, often the clerk will make a comment about how difficult Spandex type fabrics are to work with.  They slide all over the place and stretch when you don’t want them to stretch and they slide off the table before you can even get them pinned.  Right?  Not for me.  I love the fact that they as so forgiving.  If you cut something just a tiny bit off, you can maneuver the fabric to fit correctly.  And just look at the comfort for the wearer.  

Here are a few facts that I found about the beginning of the amazing stretch fabrics.
The era of manufactured fibers began with the development of rayon in France in the 1890s. Rayon is derived from a natural cellulose and cannot be considered synthetic, but requires extensive processing in a manufacturing process, and led the less expensive replacement of more naturally derived materials. A succession of new synthetic fibers was introduced by the chemicals industry in the following decades. Acetate in fiber form was developed in 1924. Nylon, the first fiber synthesized entirely from petrochemicals, was introduced as a sewing thread by DuPont in 1936, followed by DuPont's acrylic in 1944. Some garments were created from fabrics based on these fibers, such as women's hosiery from nylon.  Then there was the introduction of polyester into the fiber marketplace in the early 1950s.

and then there is my beloved Spandex

Spandex -

In 1942, William Hanford and Donald Holmes invented polyurethane together. Polyurethane is the basis of a novel type of elastomeric fiber known generically as spandex. It is a man-made fiber (segmented polyurethane) able to stretch at least 100% and snap back like natural rubber. It replaced the rubber used in women's underwear. Spandex was created in the late 1950s, developed by E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. The first commercial production of spandex fiber in the United States began in 1959.


 Check out suits from the very early days and look at the suits from the early 1930’s and just think about the lack of comfort when wearing an all-cotton type fabric with absolutely no stretch. 

And look at the suits of today - weather they are skimpy or full coverage, sassy or conservative, for a child or an adult, most all swimwear is made from comfy stretch.

Oh Yeah !  We've come a long way - haven't we?

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