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THE ULTIMATE PLUS SIZE FABRIC GUIDE

Plus size equals stretch? Not at all. We’ve taken the common fabrics and textiles at navabi and listed their features. Here is our practical plus size fabric guide.


On a regular basis, our customers ask us which fabrics are the best choice for plus size figures. Elastic materials are popular for plus size fashion, but does that mean if you’re size 14 and up you’re only allowed to wear stretch? Of course not. Every fabric and every textile has its benefit, it just depends what you are looking for.


Cotton

Is a natural fibre favoured for its breathability – which means it’s cool to wear in the summer while warm in the winter. It’s hypo-allergenic and so is especially suitable for people with skin sensitivity. It’s also long lasting and easy care – it’s machine washable.



Linen

Is a natural fibre and is super breathable making it especially cool and comfortable to wear in the heat. It’s very durable and is twice as strong as cotton, it isn’t stretchy and tailors well but creases easily.



Silk

Is known for its softness and comfort and beautiful draping and lustre. A natural fibre, it dyes easily and so is especially known for its vibrant hues. While luxurious and soft, it is very strong and because it is absorbent it is warm to wear in the winter as well as cool in the summer. Depending on how it’s been treated, it may need to be dry cleaned, hand washed, or could be machine washable so you should always read the care instructions.



Ramie

Is a natural material made from the fibres of the Asian plant named ramie (also known as Chinese Grass). The structure and texture of the material is slightly more robust than cotton, yet the fabric made from ramie fibres is fine, lightweight and durable.



Leather

A distinction is made between nappa leather which has a smooth surface, nubuck leather with a finely buffed surface and suede which is made from the underside of the skin.



Faux leather

Is most often made of cloth with a plastic coating which is washable and easy to care for in comparison to genuine leather. Faux leather has reached such a high standard of quality that it is often difficult to tell the difference between faux and genuine leather.



Denim

is a cotton cloth, characterised by a diagonal weave called twill which is especially strong. It’s often but not exclusively blue and most associated with jeans, having its origin in men’s hard wearing workwear clothes in the 19th century. Today when used to produce jeans it is often combined with a little elastane which provides a little ‘give’, and it has also migrated beyond jeans and is a popular fashion fabric.



Chiffon

Is an extremely feminine fabric that is adored for its elegant, sheer appearance. The light, plain weave of the fabric gives it a soft and fluid drape. Chiffon can be made of either polyester or silk. It is not skin tight which is why it is also very popular for plus size designs.



Jersey

Is a knitted fabric that most often has an extremely fine surface which is distinguished by its high degree of elasticity. The wearability and softness of the fabric is what makes jersey so popular.



Wool

A natural fibre, wool is an insulator which means it is very warm to wear. It’s resilient and elastic and so garments can stretch comfortably with you, then easily return to their natural shape. It’s non-allergenic, so good for people with skin sensitivity, is flame retardant and even dirt and stain resistant. What’s more, it’s very biodegradable, so at the end of its life you can happily dispose of your garment knowing it won’t have an environmental impact.



Cashmere

Cashmere goats have an extraordinarily fine undercoat which protects them in their habitat in Mongolia and the Himalayas. The hairs from the undercoat are collected during the annual moulting season. Cashmere is extremely lightweight, fine, soft and lustrous.



Elastane

A synthetic, elastane is added in small quantities to fabrics to provide stretch and shape retention. It allows freedom of movement and delivers long lasting fit. Lycra is a premium branded version of elastane.



Viscose

Viscose used to be known as ‘artificial silk’ because like silk it has superb drape, is soft to the skin and can be dyed in rich colours. A man-made fabric, it’s made from wood pulp and blends easily. You will often find it blended with other fabrics to add softness, lustre or absorbency (it’s highly absorbent and so cool to wear in the summer).



Modal

Modal fibres can be compared to cotton or viscose. They are made of cellulose which has undergone chemical treatment to improve its properties. This gives modal a softer drape than cotton and makes it more durable than viscose.



Polyacrylic/acrylic

Has a wool-like feel and so is often made into sweaters. While providing warmth, it is lighter than wool, and as a synthetic is more inexpensive. It takes and retains colour well, can be soft, and depending on how it is made is machine washable. It is also used to make fake fur.



Lyocell

Is a synthetic fibre made from natural cellulose using a manufacturing process that is environmentally friendly. Much like cotton, the breathability and absorption of lyocell also makes it skin friendly. A registered trade name for lyocell is Tencel.



Polyester

Is something of a miracle fabric. A synthetic, it can be worn over and over without fading or losing its shape and is crease resistant. It works well in blends with natural fabrics such as cotton where it extends their life.



Polyamide

Is a synthetically manufactured fibre that has been significantly optimised over the past few years to improve its breathability and comfort when worn. The fibres are extremely durable and can be used in a variety of ways. Polyamide is a popular material for making activewear. Nylon is the trademark name for a chemical fibre that is composed of polyamide and is known for its exceptional elasticity.