Figure Skating Fabric Guide
You've undoubtedly noticed that figure skating apparel is made with a wide variety of fabrics. Why is that? Why are so many different materials used / needed to make figure skating outfits? Is there one material better than another? What is the difference between a chiffon and georgette skirt, anyway?
Below is a brief summary of the different types of material used by manufacturers to construct dresses, skirts, pants, tights and other figure skating apparel.
AcrylicAcrylic fabric is favored for a variety of reasons - it is warm, can be quite soft, holds color well, and is both stain and wrinkle resistant while remaining lightweight. It can be highly elastic and yet keep its shape. It has moisture wicking ability in that the fibers pick up the moisture off the skin, transport it to the garment's outer surface where it can evaporate. As a result, the skin remains dry and the wearer feels comfortable.
CoolmaxMondor's skating tights always have a coolmax gusset. Just what is that? Well, Coolmax fabric is a performance fabric engineered with special technology to wick moisture and accelerate drying. This has the physiological benefits of maintaining lower skin temperature and reducing perceived physical exertion during exercise. It is soft, breathable and moisture wicking, making it great for high-active sports.
It is machine washable and dryable (dries quickly).
ChiffonChiffon is a lightweight plain-woven fabric with mesh like weave that gives it a transparent appearance. Synthetic materials which can easily be dyed into different colors like nylon and polyester are most commonly used to make this fabric. However, it may bleed color the first few times it is washed and can fade if kept in water for a long wash cycle.
GeorgetteGeorgette is a lightweight, crinkled, sheer fabric, displaying an overall bouncy look. It is easy to dye and has a dull-rough texture. While Chiffon gives a pretty and flowing look, Georgette is used for the same purpose but for a more opaque appearance. It has a tendency to drape well, is lightweight and easy to handle. It is considered a stronger material than chiffon because the fibers are twisted during construction. However, it still adviseable to take care when washing by using a light detergent. Exposure to sunlight can cause it to fade.
Lycra / Spandex
Spandex is a flexible, breathable synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity which makes it well suited for sports apparel. It has the ability to expand from four to seven times and yet return to its original size without losing its integrity. This unparalleled elasticity gives the material strength, suppleness, and the ability to withstand typical wear and tear. It is often combined with other man-made or natrual fibers to provide a comfortable fit, stretch and mobility.
Lycra is the proprietary brand name for Invista's (formerly DuPont) version of Spandex. Spandex is the most common name used in North America but in Europe, the perferred name is Elastane.
NylonNylon is a synthetic fabric which is exceptionally strong, abrasion and wrinkle resistant. It neither stretches nor shrinks, but is a resilient fabric whether wet or dry. It also has a low moisture absorbency and is lightweight, warm, smooth to the touch and quick drying. It has a lustrous appearance and is mildew resistant and flexible. For these reasons, it is commonly used in the production of skating tights and pants.
Polar FleecePolar fleece provides superior comfort, warth and durability. It contains air pockets that capture body heat, yet the breathability of the fabric allow moisture to evaporate while increasing air flow. Polar fleece is easy to care for. To extend the life of the garment, it should be turned inside out before washing in cold water and line dried.
PolyesterLike Nylon, Polyester is a synthetic fabric that tends to be wrinkle resistant, lightweight, smooth and quick drying. It is a strong fabric that is abrasion, stretch and shrink resistant as well as resistant to mold and mildew. It is easy to wash and also tends to be very UV resistant.
SupplexSupplex offers the soft, smooth touch and feel of Cotton but with Nylon's high strength and durability. This advance fiber technology makes Supplex flexible, lightweight and around 33% softer than standard Nylon. As opposed to Cotton which creases, shrinks and fades in color, Supplex is anti-abrasive, breathable, holds it's shape, waterproof, fast drying, and retains its color. When combined with Lycra / Spandex, it can provide a comfortable fit with freedom of movement making it suitable for Yoga, Ballet, Gymnastics and Skating.
VelvetVelvet is a woen, pile fabric that can be made from any type of yarn. The term 'velvet' actually refers to the weave of the cloth as opposed to the content. Because of how it's sewn, velvet is a heavy durable fabric with a strong sheen and a soft, plush texture. It absorbs dye well and dirt can be removed easily with a soft, bristled hair brush. Stains can be removed with a small mixture of warm water and dish detergent.