844-BIG-Z-FAB (244-9322)

When shopping through our store you’ll see the specifications of most fabrics listed below their description. Two of the most popular materials you’ll see there are Acrylic and Polyester. Touching and making with the fabric is the best way to learn the real world differences between materials but this blog post should do a good job at bringing you up to speed on the traits of each fiber from an academic perspective. The ultimate goal is to connect the real world, tactile experiences you’re noticing with the technical differences to give you a more broad knowledgebase.

1. Origin & Production:

  • Acrylic:
    • Acrylic fibers are derived from acrylonitrile, a petrochemical.
    • The fiber was developed to imitate wool and is often used as a wool substitute.
    • During the production of acrylic, the acrylonitrile is first polymerized to produce a polyacrylonitrile resin, which is then spun into fibers.
  • Polyester:
    • Polyester fibers are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), derived from petroleum-based products or, more recently, from recycled plastic bottles.
    • The polyester production process involves melting the PET and extruding it through small holes, where it solidifies and is then cut or spun into fibers.

2. Properties:

  • Acrylic:
    • Texture: Often softer than polyester, with a wool-like feel.
    • Warmth: It’s a good insulator and often used in sweaters and blankets.
    • Durability: Less durable than polyester.
    • Moisture-wicking: Acrylic tends to be less breathable and can trap moisture.
  • Polyester:
    • Texture: Generally has a smoother feel, but its texture can be modified in various ways.
    • Warmth: Provides insulation, and its moisture-wicking properties can make it feel less warm in comparison to acrylic.
    • Durability: Known for its strength and longevity.
    • Moisture-wicking: Polyester is often used in athletic wear because of its moisture-wicking properties. It dries quickly and doesn’t retain moisture like natural fibers.

3. Uses:

  • Acrylic:
    • Given its wool-like characteristics, it’s commonly used in knitted apparel like sweaters, hats, and scarves.
    • Also found in home textiles such as blankets and upholstery.
  • Polyester:
    • Extremely versatile, found in a vast range of products from clothing (like shirts, pants, and jackets) to home textiles (like curtains, bed linens, and carpets).
    • Often blended with other fibers to combine desirable properties.

4. Care and Maintenance:

  • Acrylic:
    • Tends to pill over time.
    • It might shrink or warp if exposed to high heat. It’s best to wash in cold water and air dry or use low heat settings.
  • Polyester:
    • Resists wrinkles and maintains its shape well.
    • Can generally be machine washed and dried without much risk of shrinkage or damage.

5. Environmental Impact:

  • Both acrylic and polyester fibers are made from petrochemicals, which means their production is resource-intensive.
  • Both fibers are non-biodegradable, taking several centuries to decompose.
  • However, there are eco-friendly variations of polyester made from recycled PET bottles.

6. Allergic Reactions:

  • Some individuals might experience allergic reactions to synthetic fibers. Acrylic might cause skin irritation for some, especially if worn directly against the skin.

Still curious about what fabric is best for you and your next project? A great next step to take is to reach out on social media and comment on a post others are interacting with. Usually the community is very happy to chime in with their experiences and insight. If you’re shopping for fabric our team is available as well. You can chat with us on our website, or email sales (at) bigzfabric.com.

Good luck!

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3400 Slauson Ave Unit A,
Maywood CA 90270

213-745-BIGZ (2449)

844-BIG-Z-FAB (244-9322)

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