What is Acetate? Fabric Guide, Types & Uses

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What is acetate fabric? Simply put, acetate fabric is an affordable alternative to fancy fabrics, such as rayon and silk. This fabric is glossy and has a lightweight and soft feel to it. Moreover, if you see a shiny fabric that looks similar to silk but not silk, it is likely an acetate fabric. So, if it’s not silk, what is acetate fabric made of? Acetate fabric is made from spun cellulose filaments. However, this fabric can also have cotton, wool, or silk fibers. Because of this, it is used to create gowns, party dresses, lingerie, scarves, graduation wear, umbrellas, curtains, and furniture, among many others. If you’re still wondering about what acetate fabric is, continue reading to know more about it.

What is Acetate FabricPinWhat is Acetate Fabric


What Is Acetate Fabric?What Is Acetate Fabric – A Quick HistoryWhat Is Acetate – Advantages and DisadvantagesAdvantagesDisadvantagesWhat Is Acetate Fabric – CharacteristicsWhat Is Acetate Fabric – TextureWhat Is Acetate Fabric – AppearanceWhat Is Acetate Fabric – Various UsesWhat Is Acetate Fabric – Can It Be Washed?What Is Acetate Fabric – How to Wash ItWhat Is Acetate Fabric – How to Iron ItWhat is Acetate Fabric – In ConclusionMore Fabrics

What Is Acetate Fabric?

As mentioned, acetate fabric is composed of spun cellulose filaments that come from wood pulp. Categorized as semi-synthetic or chemical fiber fabric, it is combined with wool, silk, or cotton to make it more durable.

Additionally, the reaction of wood pulp to different acetic acids produces acetate flakes. After this, these flakes are melted in a solvent and poured on a spinneret. The filaments are created when the solvent evaporates. As a result, these filaments are turned into acetate fabric.

What Is Acetate Fabric – A Quick History

What is acetate fabric’s history? Acetate fabric is considered the second-oldest fiber manufactured in the US, after rayon. Acetate was initially used in France as a varnish to airplane wings. Then, in 1923, it was developed and turned into a fiber in the UK.

A year later, in 1924, it was developed for use as a fabric. However, it was only mass-produced when chemists found a way to dye the fabric to make it more appealing. At first, certain pollutants and fumes faded or discolored the fabric, but this was later remedied to enhance acetate fabric’s longevity. Nonetheless, there are still some acetate fabrics that react when they get in contact with pollutants.

What Is Acetate – Advantages and Disadvantages

As you know, all fabrics have their advantages and challenges. Of course, acetate fabric is not an exception. So, with that said, to learn more about the question “what is acetate fabric,” let’s discuss its various advantages and disadvantages.


The fabric is very glossy, so it looks and feels elegant.It is resistant to mold and mildew.It is environment-friendly.It is available in different brightness and colors.It does not shrink and pill.It drapes very well.It doesn’t produce much static electricity.


It can easily rip.Stretchiness can be an issue.When exposed to too much heat, it can melt.It gets easily wrinkled.Dry cleaning might be required, but it is best to check the care instructions.

Additionally, since it can melt when exposed to too much heat, you need to be extra careful when ironing this fabric. This just means you need to set the iron at a low heat level to remove the wrinkles.

What Is Acetate Fabric – Characteristics

So, what is acetate fabric, and why is it good? Well, the positive aspects of acetate fabric are its best features. Even though it might be pretty challenging to sew because it is incredibly lightweight, you will realize that your efforts are worth it when you see the final result.

When you use or wear this fabric, you might mistake it for silk because of its elegance. Moreover, it is very vibrant, smooth, and soft. While it is tough to dye, you can still find acetate fabric in many different colors and designs.

Adding to its positive traits is that it’s highly resistant to shrinking. Nonetheless, it’s still best if you keep your washer and dryer at a low setting to avoid encountering issues. You might not even need to use the dryer since it’s a fast-drying fabric.

What Is Acetate Fabric – Texture

What is acetate fabric and its texture? Like its appearance, its surface is very similar to silk, especially when you glide your hand on it. In fact, you will feel a gentle and soft touch on your skin, so it feels comfortable even when you need to move a lot.

Additionally, due to its silk-like touch, it can add sophistication to your outfits that can help you feel more confident. Moreover, wearing this fabric for extended periods won’t be a problem, as you won’t feel uncomfortable at all.

It also offers superior draping, allowing you enough freedom in your movements. With acetate fabric clothing, you can easily move smoothly and quickly without worrying about outfit issues. However, it can still pose problems because the material is easy to rip, which affects its durability and overall longevity.

What Is Acetate Fabric – Appearance

Depending on the colors used to dye the fabric, acetate fabric can have many different sheens. Therefore, it can complement many looks and figures because it comes in various great shades. In fact, it can even rival silk and other elegant fabrics because of the exquisite blend of weaving styles, colors, and glossiness.

So, what is acetate fabric, and why is it inexpensive? The material itself was designed to mimic the fibers used in more expensive fabrics. The aim was to make something that appears elegant and sophisticated but still affordable.

Although the fibers are not entirely natural, they can still outperform many fabrics made from natural fibers. In addition, the silk-like quality of this fabric is attention-grabbing in a way that’s difficult to define, especially when the material is appropriately put together.

What Is Acetate Fabric – Various Uses

There are many uses for the fabric, so to understand the question “what is acetate fabric,” you need to understand its various benefits.

One benefit is its versatility for clothing. Some examples of clothing pieces where acetate fabric is used are evening gowns, wedding dresses and other wedding ensembles, sportswear, men’s and women’s underwear, hats, suits, ties, sweaters, formal tops, coats, and many others. 

However, aside from clothing, acetate fabric can also be used for furniture, furniture upholsteries, umbrellas, carpets, curtains, drapes, and other home decoration pieces that need this type of fabric. This fabric is also used in cigarette filters to help get rid of nicotine and tar while smoking.

Lastly, acetate fabric can also be knitted into holiday ribbons to make gifts look nicer. These are just some examples of its many uses, as acetate fabric is incredibly versatile.

What Is Acetate Fabric – Can It Be Washed?

The answer to this is that it’s possible to wash acetate fabric. However, it would be best to remember that this fabric is delicate, so its care instructions would most likely be for dry cleaning only.

Nonetheless, you can check different acetate fabrics since some might have specific care label instructions.

As mentioned, it is possible to hand wash items that are made for dry cleaning. However, it would be best to be careful with the amount of water and temperatures you use. Additionally, hanging the fabric to dry is more recommended, especially if you opt to hand wash it.

However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot use your dryer. Still, because the fabric dries quickly, you might not need to. In fact, you can even save more on energy if you choose to hang and air dry it. Lastly, if the care instructions say dry clean only, it would be best to follow it. Doing this can prevent damaging this delicate fabric.

What Is Acetate Fabric – How to Wash It

Since the fabric is fragile, it can rip easily. Therefore, you need to be very careful when handling this fabric. While the safest way is to hand wash, the material can also be kneaded.

The first thing you need to do is run cold tap water and let it flow through your fabric. For this, you don’t need to massage the material or do anything else, except when you need to move it. You just need to make sure that water runs throughout the fabric.

After this, you can fill up your tub with gentle or mild laundry detergent that’s free from scents or dyes. Then, you just dip the fabric in the soap solution, shake the material gently, and rinse out the soap. You can repeat this twice or thrice, then allow the fabric to drip for several minutes.

Once it has been wholly rinsed, using a towel, lay the fabric to dry there. However, you might have to use more than one towel when you turn the material over. Additionally, you have to make sure that the surface you use for the towel is dry, airy, and warm.

What Is Acetate Fabric – How to Iron It

It is possible to iron this fabric, but you have to remember that it can burn quickly. Therefore, you should not hold the iron too long on one spot or press it too hard since the fabric is incredibly delicate.

First, you need to set your iron settings to very low heat. However, it would be best to be careful with this since the burning can also cause the fabric to melt. Additionally, before you iron it, you also have to check that the cloth is slightly damp. Once you do, pressing the iron too hard on the fabric won’t be needed. It’s also recommended to run the iron on all sides of the material. Doing so will help smoothen out any wrinkles.

What is Acetate Fabric – In Conclusion

Finally, you have a better understanding of the answer to the question, “what is acetate fabric.” Because it is lightweight and lustrous, it can quickly get damaged if you’re not careful. Despite this, it still has many uses because of its similarity to silk and high level of versatility.

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