How is Modal fabric made?

Modal fibre is a regenerated cellulose fibre first manufactured in the 1930’s. It was made to initially improve on the shortfalls of Viscose and to compete with Cotton.

Modal Manufacture

Modal fibre is obtained by spinning reconstituted cellulose. This cellulose is usually from Beech trees. Beech trees do not need pesticides or irrigation to grow, unlike cotton and they are mainly grown on land that would otherwise be useable for agriculture.

Although Beech trees are a natural material, Modal is still classed as semi-synthetic because of the sheer quantities of chemicals used in their manufacture. To make Modal fibres, the wool pulp must first be dissolved. The small chips of wood are put into a vat of chemicals until only a liquid is left. This liquid is forced through a spinneret containing of thousands of tiny holes into a dilute sulphuric acid bath where the cellulose is regenerated as fine filaments.

These filament fibres are washed to make sure that no chemical residue remains. They are then bleached and dried. After this has been done, finishing treatments can be added and the fibres can be cut down to staple fibres.

The fibres are then spun into yarns. These are usually blended with other fibres such as cotton and they can then be woven into fabrics.

Properties of Modal Fabric

  • Soft
  • Strong
  • Silky to the touch
  • Absorbent
  • Biodegradable
  • Good affinity to dye
  • Stain Resistant
  • Doesn’t Pill
  • Chemical Resistance
  • Mildew Resistant
  • Drapes well
  • Resistant to fading
  • Does not shrink
  • Remains strong when wet, unlike Viscose
  • Blends well with Cotton
  • Warm to wear
  • Hydroscopic
  • Lustre similar to that of mercerised Cotton
  • Anti-crease
  • Relatively easy-care

End uses of Modal

  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • Tops
  • Underwear
  • Nightwear
  • Outerwear
  • Towels
  • Bathrobes
  • Bedding
  • As a replacement for Cotton

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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