I recently made an Instagram Reel all about Modal fabric, but felt a blog was in order to really dig into what Modal really is, and why WayMaker Fabrics chose to offer it as a fabric base. We all love Cotton! It is a staple of the American society. America grows it and sells it and I love it! I wanted to get that out of the way, so when I compare Modal to Cotton, you understand it is a comparison only, and is not meant to hurt Cotton's feelings, or make it feel like less of a fiber. We love you Cotton, but we love Modal too! In fact, Modal also loves Cotton, and is often blended with it to create a hybrid Cotton/Modal fabric. See, we all love each other.
Let's get on with the show... I'm going to discuss:
-What is Modal?
-What is Modal fabric made from?
-The environmental impact of Modal?
-What does Modal fabric feel like?
-Washing instructions for Modal fabric?
What is Modal?
Modal fibers are produced primarily by one company in the world. That company is Lenzing. While the technology has been around since the1950's, Lenzing didn't start producing Tencel until the 1990's. That's a long time for something as amazing as Modal to be sitting on the shelf unused. Lenzing is a leader in sustainable fibers, and we think they are doing a great job! Modal is actually a type of Tencel. Tencel is the brand, Modal is the specific fiber. Within the Modal family there are several different fiber types based on the technologies used. You can visit the Lenzing site to really dig into the different technologies and fiber types they offer. Trust me, you could spend an entire day going down the rabbit hole!
What is Modal fabric made from?
Modal is made from tree pulp. Primarily beech wood pulp. Beech Trees are native to Asia, North America, and Europe. Let's briefly talk about how Modal fabric is made! The Beech Trees are harvested, chipped and the cellulose is removed. Cellulose is the cell wall in plants. The Cellulose is what gives the cell its strength. I stated in my Reel that it uses 10-20x less water, and I feel I need to say, that this does depend on the farming practices. Since I do not know every single farming practice, I quoted those figures prematurely. Beech trees CAN use less water to grow than Cotton.
The Environmental Impact of Modal
But wait a minute, Christina, how is this an eco-friendly product/company if it uses trees to make their products? Is Modal fabric good or bad? Is Modal fabric safe to wear? That is a great question! Lenzing uses more than 99 percent certified sustainable forestry. "Lenzing has put in place a strict, Group-wide set of rules for all purchased resources. Our Global Supplier Code of Conduct requires all suppliers to comply with certain standards regarding health, safety, respect for human rights, environmental protection, ethical principles and management practice." -Lenzing
Lenzing is not just "sustainable" by name, but it actually cares about the environment, not to mention, if they use all the trees, then they will no longer have this amazing product to sell. Killing all the trees would be a terrible business model.
I personally believe that Modal fabric is good! Additionally, because of the way they make their fibers it is safe to wear!
Not only do they use sustainable farming, but they use a closed loop system. A closed loop system means the chemicals used to make the Tencel products are reused; therefore, there is no chemical dumping! No negative environmental impact! We love that! Natural fibers, sustainable farming, and no chemical dumping. Wow, way to go Modal!
Here is an excerpt from the Lenzing website about Modal, "Composed of natural material, all TENCEL™ standard Modal fibers are biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil and marine conditions, thus they can fully revert back to nature." Natural fibers, sustainable farming, and no chemical dumping. Wow, way to go Modal!
As someone who is environmentally conscious, I love this! I love that it is fully biodegradable. But don't think that your new Modal shirt is just going to fall apart, that is not the case. In fact, Lenzing studies show that it will hold up better and retain its softness longer than your standard cotton items with repeated washing.
What Does Modal Fabric Feel Like?
Modal is a great silk alternative, so anything you'd want to make with silk, you can make with Modal. It has a shiny silky feel to it! You can also find Modal/Cotton/Spandex blends. WayMaker Fabrics sells a Modal French terry. You can make shirts, sweatshirts, pants, or shorts from the Modal French terry. It has quite a bit of stretch to it, so I don't recommend making anything that needs a lot of structure. It drapes beautifully and is a knit fabric.
Modal can make super soft and silky undergarments or lingerie. Because Modal has different fibers and technologies used, you have a wide range of things you can make. Basically, you name it, and you can probably make it with Modal or a Modal blend, and if Modal isn't the right fit for your creation, you can check out some of the other Tencel fibers to see what might work for your project.
Modal is very versatile! Modal is a fiber, so they can create different fabric bases from the fibers. Is Modal fabric good for summer? You bet it is! Try out a Modal Jersey, and make a soft, breathable tank top! Does your google search look like this? Modal fabric hot weather? Who doesn't want something soft and breathable during the summer? But wait, you can also wear some soft and warm Modal in the winter. Just pick up some Modal French terry.
Washing Instructions for Modal Fabric
I was scrolling one of the various sewing groups that I am in. I don't know about you, but I find the same questions being asked over and over again in the same groups! One question that I come across regularly is "should I wash..." or "how do I wash..." One really clever response was "wash it like you hate it. That way nothing worse will ever happen to it." This quote has become my fabric mantra!
So, I will say it now in regards to Modal fabric. Wash it like you hate it. That way nothing worse will ever happen to it! Modal can be washed just like anything else you own. One of the beauties of Modal is that it doesn't really shrink. I say this, but keep in mind, your particular Modal fabric might be blended with something else, and because of the blend it might shrink some. Lenzing boasts the lack of shrinkage, and that it holds up well in the wash, so truly, wash it like you hate it and see what happens!
In summation, Modal is made from beech tree pulp, it isn't had for the environment, it is safe to wear, Modal is great for hot or cold weather clothing depending on the fiber. Modal is made in the USA, and several other places around the world. Modal can be blended with other fibers to make almost anything you want! Modal is a great eco-friendly and sustainable fiber! Plus, it is soft and has a beautiful drape. Pick up some Modal French Terry or some Modal Jersey from www.waymakerfabrics.com.
Stop Waiting. Start Making!