What is acetate fabric? (2023)

When I was in the fabric store I came across an acetate fabric. He felt smooth and silky, smooth and delicate. So much so that I thought it was some kind of silk. But it was not. How can acetate be so silky and not be silk? What is acetate fabric?

Acetate fabric is a semi-synthetic material derived from wood pulp and acetic acid. A member of the rayon family, acetate is a substitute for silk and can be used for drapery, evening gowns, and bridal gowns. The 100% acetate fabric is delicate. To counteract this, it is blended with other fibers such as cotton to create a more durable fabric.

In this article, you'll learn all about acetate fabric, from the material's pros and cons to its best uses. Read on to find out if acetate fabric can be used in your next project.

What is acetate fabric? (1)

quick navigation

  • What is acetate fabric?
  • How is acetate fabric made?
  • What are the uses of acetate fabric?
  • Acetate fabric: properties
    • breathability
    • durability
    • see and feel
    • heat tolerance
  • Pros and cons of acetate fabric
  • Acetate Fabric Care
  • Conclution

What is acetate fabric?

Acetate fabric is a semi-synthetic fiber. It is made from wood pulp cellulose that has been treated with various acids. These include acetic acid, acetic anhydride, and sulfuric acid.

With a half-natural, half-synthetic base, acetate fabric has a lot in common with viscose. Like viscose, acetate belongs to the viscose family along with modal, lyocell, and cupro.

With a luxurious feel similar to silk, acetate fabric is often used as an inexpensive alternative. It can often be found in wedding dresses, prom dresses, and lingerie.

Acetate has been around since the mid-19th century. Although it was not a clothing fabric at that time. Early examples of acetate were highly flammable and difficult to work with. So much so that it wasn't until the early 20th century that a commercial breakthrough occurred.

This advance would affect the success of acetate as a fabric, not for clothing, but for airplanes. Subjecting the starting acetate to hydrolysis was found to make it soluble in organic solvents such as acetone. The resulting substance became known as cellulose diacetate.

In the days of World War I, the wings of airplanes were made of cloth. The newly developed cellulose diacetate was used as a flame retardant coating for the wings. Developed by two pioneering chemists, Henri and Camille Dreyfus, soluble acetate was in high demand.

However, with the end of the war, the demand for cellulose diacetate declined. Then the brothers Henri and Camille changed their approach. Instead of making shellac, they started making diacetate fiber.

In the early 1920s his company, British Celanese Ltd., began commercial production of a revolutionary textile fiber known by the trade name Celanese. Later in the same decade, DuPont introduced a new fabric product to the United States known as acetate fabric.

Other improvements to the original formulas led to the introduction of triacetate, an easier to wash fabric with better shape retention and shrink resistance. Depending on where you are, you may know triacetate as Tricel or Arnel.

(Video) WHAT IS ACETATE? | S2:E7 | Fibers and Fabrics | Beate Myburgh

Acetate is less popular for clothing these days and is mostly used as a lining fabric. It has been replaced by polyester, which is cheaper and more durable.100% Acetateit is particularly delicate and should be dry cleaned or hand washed according to care instructions.

In order to make the fabric more durable, it is most often mixed with other fibers. Acetate can be added to cotton, silk, wool, and polyester to give it extra strength. This also makes the fabric more suitable for a modern and busy lifestyle. Blended acetate is another easy-care material that is machine washable.

How is acetate fabric made?

What is acetate fabric? (2)

Acetate cloth is made by treating wood pulp with acetic acid, sulfuric acid, acetone, and acetic anhydride. A little known fact about acetate is that it can also be made from cotton cellulose.

Wood or cotton cellulose is immersed in acetic acid at a controlled temperature. After some time, acetic anhydride and sulfuric acid are added to the mixture, resulting in a thick, clear solution known as cellulose acetate.

This solution is passed through a device known as a spinneret, which forms filaments or fibers. These fibers are consolidated and wound on spools like yarn. The bobbins are sent to cloth manufacturers to be woven or woven into cloth.

Because acetate is partly synthetic, it can be difficult to dye. Colors are added during the production process. Special finishes are also added when the thread is made into a material.

What are the uses of acetate fabric?

What is acetate fabric? (3)

Acetate fabric is a surprisingly versatile material. Depending on the fiber content of the acetate and the weave of the fabric, it can be used for all kinds of products and projects.

Known for its superior fit and silky feel, acetate fabric is commonly used for prom and bridal gowns. It feels like silk without the high price tag. Even better, since it's hard to tell the difference between silk and acetate, your wedding or prom will think you're wearing silk. In fact, since it's so comfortable and huggable, so are you!

However, acetate fabric isn't just for costumes. You can celebrate your graduation with an acetate dress and a matching cap. Your loved ones can see you receive your diploma in an acetate suit. You can even add an acetate hat and tie to complete the ensemble.

Not only the outer part of the costume can be made of acetate fabric. Pants or skirts have lining fabric in the skirt, pants, or jacket, especially if the suit is expensive or the outer fabric is scratchy. The material used as a lining should be soft, light and comfortable on the skin. Acetate ticks all the boxes and is a popular choice for upholstery.

Sportswear, underwear, sweaters, and coats can be made from acetate fabric. Whether it's 100% acetate or a blend with other fibers, you'll find some form of acetate in many different types of clothing.

You can also find acetate in your living room and bedroom. Acetate fibers are used in furniture, drapery, and home textiles. From the rug on the floor to the valance over the window, your home décor is another area where acetate shines.

The next time it rains and you need to bring an umbrella, check the label inside. This water-repellent over-the-head fabric can contain a large amount of acetate.

(Video) Fabric Care Guide : Acetate | How to care for Acetate Clothing

Even on sunny days when you're rocking your favorite shades, acetate isn't far behind. Acetate is not just a fiber that can be made into a soft fabric. It can also be hardened into plastic. In this solid state, it can be used for eyeglass frames, costume jewelry, and plastic imitations such as tortoiseshell trim.

One of the lesser known uses for acetate is in an industry that is slowly losing popularity. Acetate is used to make cigarette filters and helps reduce the amount of nicotine and tar that a smoker inhales.

For a lighter feel, acetate can also be found in brightly colored ribbons and bows. Whether you're wrapping a birthday present or decorating a room for a party, acetate has you covered.

Acetate fabric: properties

What is acetate fabric? (4)

Acetate fabric is a semi-synthetic material that has the properties of both natural and synthetic fibers. Both good and bad. Because of this, it can be biodegradable like cotton but resistant to mildew like nylon. But it's not breathable like silk and can make you sweat like polyester. Let's take a look at some of the main properties of acetate.


order asbreathable fabric, a material must have the ability to regulate body temperature. Cotton, wool, and silk are good examples of breathable fabrics. They can help keep you cool or warm, depending on how much moisture and air they can keep off your skin.

Since acetate is a partly natural and partly synthetic fiber, you would expect it to be somewhat breathable. Unfortunately, this is an area where the artificial side is more dominant.

While acetate can keep you cool in the summer, you need to monitor the temperature. It is a quick-drying fabric and, like most members of the rayon family, does not absorb water. Allow moisture to evaporate.

The hotter you get, the more you sweat. When sweat hits your acetate garment, the moisture evaporates and the fabric dries quickly.

However, acetate has a saturation point. Too much sweat means the fabric can't dry fast enough. Moisture builds up and sticks to your skin, leaving you and your clothes feeling hot and clammy.


The acetate used in clothing is not particularly durable. 100% acetate is incredibly delicate and will not hold up to regular or daily use. Not only does it snag and tear easily, but it also tends to fray at the seams, causing the fabric to fray.

It can be blended with other fibers like polyester to improve durability, but acetate is best reserved for infrequently worn garments. That is why it is perfect for wedding or party dresses. They are gently used items and are unlikely to be worn more than once.

The fabric does not wash well and a spin in the dryer can be fatal. The color fades quickly and the material tends to wrinkle. Acetate is not the ideal fabric for laundry and workwear, whether you work in the office or on a construction site. You just can't keep up.

Acetate has some durable elements. Moths hate it and it is resistant to mildew. It does not shrink and is resistant to pilling.

see and feel

The acetate fabric is light and smooth, smooth and elegant with the look and feel of silk. It is actually an affordable silk substitute. It is so similar to silk that it can be difficult to tell an acetate garment from a silk one.

(Video) Plain Acetate Satin Dress Fabric

While not one of the easiest fabrics to dye, acetate comes in a rainbow of colors. This makes acetate versatile and incredibly popular in the clothing industry, particularly as a lining. The range of shades and shades available means you can match anything.

It also has an excellent fit that gives acetate dresses an elegance that exudes sensuality and romanticism. Acetate can give the sensation of wearing pure gold.

heat tolerance

As mostsynthetic fabrics, Acetate is heat intolerant. Any heat, whether from a dryer, washing machine, or iron, can melt fabric. However, not all acetates have the same aversion to heat.

Some acetates can be ironed at a low temperature. Typically, this is an acetate blended with another more heat-tolerant fiber, such as nylon. eg cotton.

But even then, you'll find that you still need to be very careful about the acetate content and keep heat exposure to a minimum. Always check the care label for fiber content before bringing any heat source near acetate.

When drying your acetate fabric, you should never be tempted to tumble dry! Regardless of the fibers your garment is made of, dryers are totally off-limits for any form of acetate. Even on the lowest setting they get too hot for sensitive stuff.

If you have concerns about your acetate, keep it away from heat. Play it safe and dry clean your clothes.

Pros and cons of acetate fabric

Acetate has advantages and disadvantages inherent to the fiber content of the material. Being both natural and artificial, acetate has the best and worst of both worlds.

The following table lists the main advantages and disadvantages of acetate. They are applied on 100% acetate fabric and mixed with other fibers. However, the performance of your acetate depends on the fibers it contains.

A cotton acetate blend may show some signs of shrinkage due to the cotton content. Also, a polyester acetate may be more susceptible to static electricity due to the presence of polyester.

There is a feature that you will see on both sides of the table. It is a property that can be interpreted and is an example of the double personality of acetate.

During my research for this article, I came across several sources praising the biodegradability of acetate. While others complained that the fabric is harmful to the environment. The disagreement seems to stem from the biodegradable acetate content.

Acetate is essentially made from wood pulp. Combine this with other natural fibers like cotton or wool and the resulting fabric should be more environmentally friendly. A more natural content indicates a higher chance of decomposition in a landfill or compost heap. Or at least that's the theory. Unfortunately it is not that simple.

Acetate is both a natural and synthetic fabric. Therefore, there will always be some part of your acetate fabric that is not biodegradable.

The pulp needs to be treated with chemicals to turn it into acetate. These chemicals are known to be toxic. Phthalates, for example, are known to cause health problems in humans and animals that come into contact with them. Like petroleum products, they can also cause soil contamination.

(Video) Manufacturing acetate for high quality eyewear

For this reason, I have classified acetate as potentially biodegradable and harmful to the environment. It depends on the type of acetate fabric you have. To ensure you have one that is as biodegradable as possible, look for bioacetate. This type should contain more plant material.


  • Resistant to mofo and mofo
  • Shiny fabric with an elegant touch.
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • resistant to pilling
  • does not shrink
  • excellent curtain
  • Attracts less static electricity than other plastics
  • dry fast
  • Affordable alternative to silk.
  • potentially biodegradable


  • Extremely sensitive, especially when wet.
  • Can stretch out of shape
  • wrinkles easily
  • May melt when exposed to heat.
  • Some acetates can only be dry cleaned
  • It is not easy to color at home.
  • harmful to the environment
  • not particularly durable
  • not very breathable
  • Sensitive to organic solvents such as acetone.
  • Slightly damaged by perfume.

Acetate Fabric Care

When caring for acetate fabrics, you need to know what type of acetate you are dealing with. As a first step, you should always check the care label. The clothing manufacturer has listed the percentage of acetate in the product. They will also recommend a hygiene routine.

If the manufacturers of your garment have written "Dry Clean Only" on the label, it is best to take your garment to a professional dry cleaner. This type of acetate is extremely delicate and poses a higher risk of damage from water or heat. So there is no risk! Follow the instructions on the label.

For clothes that simply say "dry clean" on the label, you have a little more flexibility. It is still advisable to dry clean the acetate. But it is not required as your only option suggests that you can wash it by hand if necessary. However, you should only keep this as an emergency option and not the norm.

Pure or 100% acetate fabric can be washed by hand, but great care must be taken. Use only cold water and be careful when moving the fabric. Avoid twisting, twisting or twisting movements. Acetate is a delicate fabric, even when dry. Add water and the sensitivity doubles. Any rough handling will shred the acetate fabric.

Acetate mixed with other fibers such as cotton can be machine washed. Again, pay attention to the temperature of the water. Set your machine in a cool or cold environment and make sure it spins up smoothly. Better yet, run the machine on the no spin setting.

The best way to dry acetate fabric is naturally. Air dry the garment on a hanger or place it on a bath towel. Under no circumstances should you put acetate in the dryer. Heat, even on the coldest setting, will melt your clothes.

Ironing is not recommended for most acetate fabrics, which can be problematic as acetate tends to wrinkle. If you need to iron the garment, make sure it is still damp. Make sure the iron is on the lowest setting and turn the clothes inside out. Using a pressed cloth can help protect the delicate fabric.

Instead of ironing, you can steam wrinkles with acetate. Here, too, care must be taken that the steam does not accumulate too much heat. Whether you're using a steamer or steam iron, be sure to keep it moving. In this way, the heat is distributed throughout the garment instead of concentrating in one place.

Acetate clothing must be stored carefully. Alcohol-based cleaners, perfumes, some glues, and chemical cleaners can be harmful to acetate. You should keep anything that contains acetone away from your acetate. Acetone dissolves acetate.


Acetate fabric is a semi-synthetic silk substitute that can offer the sophisticated elegance of pure silk at a fraction of the cost. Versatile, popular and readily available, acetate is your answer to affordable luxury.

(Video) The production of viscose fibres at Kelheim Fibres GmbH

Did this article help you understand acetate fabric? Did you dare to try acetate? Do you already have an acetate garment? Let me know in the comments.


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