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Sensual Fabrics: RTW

Ahhhh, “sunshine” scented sheets?  What a pleasant thought!!!  But I had more questions than answers when I read the following news brief:

Coming up, scented textiles
Argentina Star
Tuesday 6th February, 2007

Scientists are looking at ways to permanently infuse fabrics with a fragrance that can survive washings.

John Pierce, an associate professor of psychology at the Philadelphia University, and other researchers are trying to find ways to scent up textiles that could lead to perfumed blankets and sheets or hide the stink of used gym clothes, reported ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) science online.

Conventional methods rely on tiny scent-filled capsules added on top of the yarn after it is woven into a fabric. The capsules release their fragrance when they crack open during normal wear and use, the report quoted Discovery News.

The problem, said Pierce, is that the capsules frequently break before the garments are on the shelves, and then break some more before the customer can get the product home.

Pierce and his team, who are in the second year of a three-year project to assess such fabrics, have developed an alternative method that infuses scent and colour into a yarn at the time it is made.

This yarn essentially contains strands of scent and colour sheathed in an outer layer, all produced in one step.

The researchers said their fabric should retain the fragrance for up to 10-15 washes, about the same as those with microcapsules. But, they added, that theirs would be cheaper to manufacture as there are no microcapsules or microcapsule-applying machinery to buy.

For the fragrance to survive washings, the textile has to withstand the manufacturing process, the researchers said.

In spite of the opening statement about making the fragrance permanent, the scientist’s target goal is to have the scent last for 10 – 15 washings. From what I remember of a discussion had a few years ago with some folks in the RTW biz, the target for RTW durability is also 10 – 15 washings, depending on the “Durability” being tested. For shrinkage it was 3 washings.  For fabric finish longevity and seam construction the target was 10-15 washes.   I could be wrong in regurgitation of the standards but I remember it was dismally short.

What about possible issue of further polluntants being introduced into the ground water through laundry wastes?  What about unknown and/or new allergic reactions?  God-speed to the scientific development team and may they keep in mind the end-user and Mother Earth!

 And who’s nose will be used to determine what a pleasant scent is?  I hope it’s not the current “nose” at Febreze.  I have yet to find a reason to smile like the people in the Febreze opening page when I’ve used the Febreze products: I react badly both aesthetically and physically, to everything Febreze I’ve tried so far.

And what about us online fabric purchasers?  In a few years will we have “surprises” when we purchase over the internet?  Will we be saying, “I don’t know why but every time I go near that new shirt I cut out I start to feel sick!  Is it just a  mental reaction to the FBA I know I should have done?”

ETA: for the curious, I found a site which gives information about the chemical that makes Febreze effective in scent removal here but it doesn’t give me a clue about the fragrance choices for the products.  Somehow when things get this complicated I get suspicious.


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

9 responses »

  1. I have also read about some textile companies that encapsulate their yarns with vitamins that realease transdermally when worn. I think Lululemon out of Vancouver were committed to a vita-yarn program in some of their apparel.Sounds kind of hokey to me.

  2. I really don’t want my fabric scented. I avoid scented detergents as much as possible. I was interested in Proctor & Gamble’s explanation of how Febreze works, poorly written though it is. I don’t like the idea of adding any extra aerosols to the air I’m breathing, so I’ve never tried it, and always assumed it was just masking odours with other, supposedly pleasanter, odours. If it works as they say, what need is there to add any scent to it? Is it available unscented? Do we need it at all??

  3. Why would I want my personal selection of phermones determined by RTW??? Next thing will be partnerships with perfume designers .. Imagine a “pure” Polo by Ralph Lauren, complete with the signature fragrance. ICK! I can’t even imagine the chemical mixes involved … makes me shiver!

  4. I also worry about the use of fabric softener
    sheets for the dryer. When walking our Sheltie,
    Duncan every evening, I can always tell when
    someone is doing the laundry because of the
    highly chemical smell of the dryer sheets in the
    air. I can hardly breathe until past that house.
    What chemicals are being released into the air?Not only that, I read that dryer sheets can damage the dryer
    by clogging the filter with tiny fibers you don’t
    see which can be a serious fire hazzard.

    And, no, I do not want my fabrics scented. Environmental
    allergies are on the rise. Why contribute to someone’s
    ill health.

  5. Leslie in Austin

    Oh no no no no no.

  6. It hits me the same way, folks. Hokey, intrusive, potentially dangerous. Hey, did anyone notice that a associate professor of psychology is doing the talking about the research? I wonder even more at this…are psychologists so hard up for research monies?

    BTW, patsijean, we are not talking about dryer sheets but dryer sheets counteract the flame retardency of treated fabrics, adding even more danger to their use. They coat the fabric, making the technical properties less effective as in the case of fabrics designed to wick sweat away from the body.

  7. Thanks for the fabric sheet explanation. My DD and I fight over her putting the Bounce in the grocery cart. I hate, hate, hate it. And I will never forget how my teeth would hurt whenever I’d walk into a certain cheapo clothing store as a youngster. Something in that store made my teeth hurt when I’d walk in and take a breath….

  8. Pingback: Ayurvastra, Cosmeto-Textiles, and Skin « The Stitchery

  9. This Chaitanya Arora from India, we have developed
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