If you see a shiny nice looking fabric that looks like silk, but you know it is not silk, it maybe acetate. Acetate fabric is an inexpensive alternative to more luxurious fabrics like silk and rayon. The fabric looks as shiny and lustrous as these fabrics and feels as soft and lightweight.
The Acetate fabric is made of spun filaments of cellulose. It also may have silk, cotton or wool fibers. Acetate is used to make wedding gowns, nice party dresses and other occasion wear, ties, knitwear, lingerie, scarves, lining, graduation wear, furnishings, curtains, umbrellas etc.
Satin Acetate ribbons are ribbons woven from acetate thread in a satin weave and they are used a great deal for decorative purposes – floral arrangements, bouquet wraps, Christmas bows etc. These are strong somewhat stiff ribbons with a heat fused edge that prevents fraying and is available in a lot of colors.
The advantages of this fabric in dressmaking include, other than its luxurious feel and glossy looks, the ability to hang well and the availability in all colors. Another advantage of the fabric is its resistance to shrinkage. It dries fast after washing and there is also no pilling on the surface. It cannot be attacked by moths, nor would it get stained with mildew stains.
It is made of a man made fiber so it is biodegradable, so that is an advantage;- you can say it is an eco-friendly fabric, because it is made from processed wood pulp. But then making the fabric involves a lot of processes that are no so environmental friendly. So I do not know whether it is an advantage or disadvantage.
Acetate clothes are all marked Dry clean only. This is because of its lack of strength. If you put it in the washing machine for washing or into the dryer, there is no guarantee how it will come out.
Do not use Acetate fabric for anything which will undergo wear and tear. It is used to make things which do not have to be washed or worn often – like a party dress, prom dress or a costume. This is because it is not a very durable fabric and lacks the real strength you need in a fabric that can resist wear and tear.
It can fray easily at the seams especially if it is an item of very tight-fitting clothing. And with repeated washings or if stretched beyond its endurance. You can dry clean it to maintain its appearance.
There are some other disadvantages as well – The color fades fast if kept exposed to light and other pollutants; it wrinkles badly and it does not stretch much.
But if you want a cheap fabric and do not mind about the quality of the fabric, acetate is very suitable – because it is somewhat like silk in looks – shiny in appearance and soft in feel.