Acetate fabric

Detailed information and insights about acetate fabric as a textile material - its properties, uses, advantages, potential drawbacks, composition, manufacturing process, and care instructions.

acetate ribbon

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. It is also somewhat crisp.

What is acetate fabric?

Acetate fabric is made of cellulosic fibres – spun filaments of cellulose (regenerated cellulose fibers). The cellulose is made of the wood of non-edible plants or cotton linters. It also may have silk, cotton or wool fibers. These are combined with acetic acid to produce the lustrous fabric, in a very complex chemical process. It was discovered in the early part of the 20th century and commercialized from the 1920s (to be exact in 1924, by Celanese Corporation).

Properties of Acetate fabric

PropertyFeatures of Acetate
Fiber SourceSynthetic fiber derived from cellulose, usually from wood pulp or cotton linters.
TextureSmooth and silky to the touch. Maybe crisp.
DrapeExcellent drape and flow.
LookHigh sheen and glossy appearance.
BreathabilityModerate breathability.
Wrinkle ResistanceProne to wrinkles and creases.
Moisture WickingDoes not absorb moisture well, can feel clammy when wet.
DurabilityNot very durable
Heat ResistanceMelts and shrinks when exposed to high heat or open flames.
Static ResistanceGenerates static electricity
CareProne to damage from heat and chemicals. Care like delicate fabric.
Environmental ImpactSynthetic fabric, so production involves chemical processes, which can have environmental concerns.
Properties of Acetate fabric

How to know if you have Acetate fabric for sure?

If you want to test your acetate fabric for authenticity use some nail polish remover on it – acetate fibers dissolve in the acetone nail polish remover (Found this on the book 101 sewing secrets by Singer).

Uses of Acetate fabric

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. A lot of ready to wear gowns have acetate linings. Graduation gowns are almost always made of Acetate fabric.

store bought clothes made of acetate fabric

Different types of Acetate fabrics

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 main types of acetate fabrics are Satin Acetate, Acetate jerseys, Triacetate and modacrylic fabrics. Acetate satin, Acetate taffeta and acetate jerseys are widely used for making garments.

There are many specail fabrics with acetate fibers that you never knew was acetate – velvets, brocades, lame (a metallic fabric), moire, Peau de Soie (a silk look alike fabric). Alpaca Rayon is a blend of acetate and rayon. Many ribbed weave fabrics can also be made of acetate like Barathea, bedford cord and many embossed and burn-out fabrics.

Advantages of Acetate Fabric

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

Acetate does not shrink. 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 not so environmentally friendly. So I do not know whether it is an advantage or disadvantage. 


Disadvantages of Acetate fabric

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 lots of 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.

More Faq on acetate fabric

Is acetate fabric stretchy?

No, Acetate fabric is not stretchy. Acetate fibers are made of cellulose acetate, which is a regenerated form of wood pulp. It doesnot have the stretch-and-recovery ability of fibers like spandex.

Is acetate fabric expensive?

Acetate is considered an inexpensive fabric – it is used as a cheap alternative to Silk because it is a little shiny and is smooth and has a nice enough drape. It is because it is inexpensive that you can buy a lot of party gowns made of acetate in shops for very less money. They may not be the best or last very long, but you will be able to afford them.

Is acetate fabric suitable for hot weather? Is the fabric breathable?

No, it is not a fabric suitable for hot weather. Acetate fabric is not breathable. You may feel uncomfortable in this material, when compared to a fully natural fabric.

Is acetate fabric durable?

No, it is not very durable. The specific problem that I dislike about acetate is that it can get brittle with age, especially along fold lines. And the fiber there can get damaged and broken. It also melts fast in high temperature. Other problems are shrinkage, pilling and fading.

Is the fabric suitable for outdoor activities?

No, acetate is not much breathable, nor is it durable. It is somewhat thin and prone to cuts and damage So these two things make it not suitable for outdoor activities. You can choose so many other durable fabrics for your outdoor activities.

Is the fabric suitable for children’s clothing?

Yes, if you are looking for a shiny fabric for a party dress and it will be having a cotton lining. Other wise, no. It is not my favourite loungewear fabric.

Does Acetate wrinkle?

Yes, it does wrinkle. It is a little stiff and thin fabric and hence it develops wrinkles fast and hold on to them.

Related posts : How to wash and care for acetate clothes; Fabric name list  – names of 100+fabrics; Acrylic fabrics ; Synthetic fabrics.; Best lining materials 

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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