Learn all about what is modal? Some have called it the underwear fabric while others have called it the world's first revolutionary fabric. Sure, this opening sentence sounds like a line from a poorly written blockbuster trailer but it's true. Over the years, modal has become so popular that consumers and fashion brands have coined different names for it. But what is modal and why exactly is this fabric becoming increasingly popular? Well, in this article, we will break down everything you need to know about this revolutionary textile option. Want to know more about modal, how to use it and how it compares to other fabrics? Read on.
What Is Modal?
Modal is a semi-synthetic fabric, crafted from beech tree pulp, that is usually combined with other synthetic or natural fibres to produce a soft, durable material.
This breathable and absorbent fiber is quite similar to rayon, another plant-based textile material however, it goes through an additional, thorough process that makes it slightly more durable than traditional rayon.
It also has a silky smooth touch which makes it one of the most luxurious fabrics on the market. As such, it is more expensive than other fabrics such as viscose and cotton and is mainly found in high-end clothing apparel or outfits.
Brief History of Modal
Modal emerged onto the textile scene over 50 years ago and ever since then, its popularity has not waned. It was originally developed in Japan in 1951.
Most of the modal used today by fashion brands, clothing companies, and end-users are produced by Lenzing AG, an Austrian company that began producing it in the 1960s. Since modal was first created, it has remained on top of the competition in the fashion industry, thanks to its impressive stretchiness and softness.
what is Modal Made From?
Its production process involves spinning reconstituted beech tree cellulose. Usually, the cellulose is soaked in several chemicals such as carbon disulfate and sodium hydroxide to create cellulose xanthate, also known as viscose.
Here is a quick breakdown of all the steps involved in the modal production process:
- The beechwood tree is chopped, chipped, and then broken down into a pulp.
- The cellulose extracted from the pulp is then made into sheets and soaked thoroughly in a sodium hydroxide bath.
- Subsequently, these sheets are broken down into smaller pieces, which are soaked in carbon disulfate to produce sodium cellulose xanthate.
- The cellulose xanathe is soaked in a sodium hydroxide bath again and then turns fully into a liquid solution.
- It is pushed through an extruder to produce fibers.
- These fibers are soaked thoroughly in sulfuric acid to produce yarn which is then used to produce what we know as modal fabric.
What Is Modal Used for?
Modal is most commonly used as an effective alternative to cotton or silk. It is also popular among sportswear brands. For instance, it can be used to create bike shorts, swimwear, and even yoga pants.
Modal fabric's popularity in the sports industry can be linked to its durability and superb elasticity. What's more, it is also very easy to clean, making it a great choice for people who don't like to wash clothes too often.
Properties of Modal Fabric
Modal fabric has quite a number of properties that make it everyone's personal wardrobe favourite. To begin with, it has an ultra-comfy feel that makes it easy to wear. If you have sensitive skin, this fabric may be a great choice as it is quite mild and gentle on the skin.
It is also very flexible and breathable. Anyone can wear this fabric for hours without feeling overly hot or suffocated. As such, it is suitable for wear even in temperate conditions.
Another unique quality of the this fabric is its impressive elasticity and stretchiness. It can stretch almost twice its size without slacking or losing its elasticity. Imagine having a pair of yoga pants made from modal fabric. You'd never have to change them!
Just like silk, modal doesn't crease or shrink easily. As such, you can easily toss it into the washing machine on laundry days without having to worry about ruining the fabric.
What is Modal Pros and Cons
Thinking of incorporating modal fabric into your wardrobe? This fabric comes with several benefits and some drawbacks too.
What is Modal Pros
- It is water absorbent: This fabric absorbs water and other liquids very easily. In fact, it is 50% more absorbent than cotton and this makes it the perfect fabric for making outfits for sporting activities.
- Highly durable: Thanks to the tight weave and long fibers used in producing the modal fabric, it is very strong and durable. As such, it is commonly used to make garments for everyday use.
- It is eco-friendly: If you're passionate about the environment and ecosystem, then you would definitely love this fabric. It is crafted from regeneration plants and the production process generally involves fewer chemicals than other forms of rayon.
- Colors fast and easily: Since it is generally water-absorbent, modal fabric absorbs dye easily, regardless of the color. Even better, you don't have to worry about the dye bleeding out during wash days.
- It doesn't shrink: Unlike traditional rayon and several other types of rayon, this fabric does not shrink when tossed into the washing machine.
- It doesn't crease: With modal fabric, you don't necessarily have to iron every other day. This revolutionary fabric still stays wrinkle-free with minimal ironing.
- Soft: Modal is incredibly lush and soft to the touch. It leaves the wearer feeling super comfortable at all times.
- It is stretchy: Modal fabric comes with immense flexibility and stretchiness which makes it an ideal choice for athletic wear, t-shirts, and everyone's all-time favorite - yoga pants.
What is Modal Cons
In some cases, modal fabrics have been known to cause allergic reactions in wearers. As such, before you use or wear this fabric, it's important to ensure that you have no allergies that may be triggered by the fabric.
This fabric doesn't retain heat either and as such, is a terrible choice for people living in cold weather or conditions.
However, these cons aren't necessarily a drawback, especially if you have no skin sensitivity or you live in a city with temperate weather conditions.
How to Care for Modal
The first thing to note about caring for this fabric is that it is completely machine washable. However, it is best to wash by hand to lower the chances of shrinking. If you decide to wash with a machine, you should use a mesh wash bag to protect your clothing items from damage.
You can always use a dryer for your modal fabric if you need to. If you do decide to use one, ensure that the dryer stays at a low to medium temperature.
Just like most fabrics, it is not advisable to use chemicals on modal but if you absolutely have to, stick to products that do not contain chlorine or any other chemicals that may be too harsh on the fabric.
What is Modal Vs Cotton
Over the years, cotton has stood the test of time as one of the most durable yet softest fabrics on the market. However, modal, a relatively new fabric, seems to be edging towards this position as well. So which fabric takes the crown home?
In terms of feel, modal has a very soft, smooth, and silky feel that outshines even cotton's renowned softness. It is also about 50% more absorbent and permeable than cotton, beating the latter in the breathability category as well.
Modal comes with long, tightly woven fibers, making it stronger and far more durable than cotton. However, when it comes to pricing, cotton takes the cup as it is cheaper and definitely more affordable.
What is Modal Vs Lyocell
Lyocell is a similar fabric to Modal and is manufactured by the same company - Lenzing AG. In fact, it is often mistaken for Modal due to the number of similarities they share.
However, this fabric is created through a different chemical process than modal. The Lyocell production process involves the use of a non-toxic, organic compound known as M-Methylmorpholine N-oxide (NMMO). This makes it far more environmentally friendly than Modal.
Despite the different processes used in producing this fabric, it is just as comfortable as Modal. However, Modal is slightly softer and more delicate.
What is Modal Vs Viscose
Viscose's production process is very much similar to modal's. However, modal fabric undergoes more processing, resulting in a stronger, more durable product.
Generally, modal is a better choice when compared with viscose because the latter is often produced with a huge amount of toxic chemicals.
What is Modal - In Conclusion
Over the years, Modal has become a popular choice of fabric, especially in the sports industry. This lightweight yet durable fabric has several endearing properties that make it a great choice for people who want comfort and style at the same time.
At this point, your core question - what is modal? - has probably already been answered. If you're looking to create an awesome, breathable yet durable outfit, you should definitely incorporate modal into your sewing routine.
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