What Are the Warmest Materials for Winter?

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Wool is often used for knitting because of its insulating properties.
Wool is often used for knitting because of its insulating properties. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

When you are making garments and decor for colder months you need to select the fabrics very carefully. To stay warm, you will need to choose a fabric that is insulating. Some fabrics are plush and look warm, but some of the warmest fabrics may not appear to be at first glance. Knowing some more about the warmest fabrics will help you to determine what is most suited for your project.

Wool

Wool is a natural fiber that is made from the sheared fur of an animal's coat. A variety of animals are sheared for wool. Sheep are the most common. Some other fibers would include angora/rabbit wool, mohair/goat wool, cashmere/goat down, vicuna/llama wool and camel's hair. They can range in texture from soft and smooth to rough and scratchy. In addition to its insulating properties, wool is absorbent. It can retain up to 30 percent of its weight in moisture. Wool is also prone to shrinking.

Worsted wool is smoother than other varieties.
Worsted wool is smoother than other varieties. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Fleece

Fleece is a versatile fabric that is soft with a deep pile. Fleece does not fray or unravel when cut, so it is easy to work with. It is comfortable and breathable, so it is often used for winter sports and garments. Fleece is a synthetic fabric often made from Polyethylene terephthalate, which is the same material used to make plastic bottles. Fleece is designed to mimic wool, but the fibers are knit instead of woven like wool. Fleece dries quickly and it doesn't shrink or bleed color. However, fleece can pill, which affects the way it looks. To avoid pilling, wash fleece alone and turn it inside out.

Fleece is moisture wicking, so it keeps moisture away from your body.
Fleece is moisture wicking, so it keeps moisture away from your body. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Flannel

Flannel is made from cotton, which is a natural fiber harvested from a plant. It is a woven fabric with a low, soft nap on both sides. It can be brushed to add softness. Flannel is used to make clothing and home decor items such as linens and blankets. It is also be used as a lining for garments because of its insulating properties. Flannel that is 100-percent cotton does shrink when dried.

Flannel often comes in plaid prints but can also be solid color.
Flannel often comes in plaid prints but can also be solid color. (Image: Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images)

Velour

Velour is a plush, knitted fabric made from a blend of cotton and synthetic materials like polyester. Velour has the soft feel of velvet but the give of spandex, which makes it ideal for active wear garments. The extreme softness of velour makes it preferable for home decor items as well. It is often used to cover pillows and for blankets.

Velour is popular for garments like sweatsuits and dancewear.
Velour is popular for garments like sweatsuits and dancewear. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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References

  • "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House"; Cheryl Mendelson; 2005
  • "Sew What! Fleece: Get Comfy With 35 Head-to-Toe, Easy-to-Sew Projects!"; Carol Jessop, Chaila Sekora; 2007
  • Fabrics: Wool
  • "More Fabric Savvy: A Quick Resource Guide to Selecting and Sewing Fabric"; Sandra Betzina; 2005
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