Re: Misinformation about synthetics and breathability

"Karen Maslowski" <sewstorm@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
Well, Adam, we don't judge around here, and you just never know when a guy
has been wearing whatever. :)

The nylon is hot because it's like a plastic.

It is a plastic, but that's not why it's hot. I know this for several
reasons but the mail one is because polyester
is also a plastic, and a pair of knit polyester pants were the most
breathable and coolest I've ever worn. The slightest breeze blew right
through them. When I first wore them I wasn't used to feeling breezes on my
legs, and I felt like I had to keep looking down to make sure they hadn't
fallen off!

No matter how many "holes" it has, it's still plastered onto one's anatomy,
and does not allow that much of the skin to breathe.

Breathability refers to the ability of a fabric to allow air to pass from
one side to the other. Fabric is made of woven threads made from fibers.
No fiber that any fabric is made of is breathable in itself; air cannot pass
through a cotton, silk, linen or rayon _fiber_ any more than it can pass
through a nylon, polyester or polypropylene one.

The only way ANY fabric can breathe is by spacing the fibers and threads far
enough apart to let air flow between them. How well it breathes is
determined by the size of the holes and to some extent the shape and depth
of the holes and the "fuzziness" of the fiber or threads.

A fabric that is plastered to the skin cannot breathe at all in the normal
sense of the word. Air can't pass from one side to the other because one
side is blocked by skin, and the holes between the threads have now become
pockets. (It's like opening only one window in your house, the breeze
doesn't come in because it has no place to go.) Open a window on the other
side and now you've got a breeze flowing through. Because of this, the air
in the spaces between the threads can become "dead" or still air, which acts
as an insulator. Perspiration cannot evaporate well because the air pockets
quickly reach 100% humidity and no further evaporation occurs. With
movement or wind there will be some refreshing of the air in the pockets but
that can be quite limited by the size, shape and depth of the holes.

As I'm sure you know, most fabric is basically a mesh of tiny threads. The
spaces in the
mesh allow air to contact the skin or flow through the fabric. If the holes
are small or nonexistent, the fabric will not breathe--it does not matter
what the fabric is made of. Cotton can be made practically airtight. Early
parachutes were made of canvas. The next material parachutes were made from
was silk, another natural fabric. Parachute material must have extremely
low breathability or the people using them tend to fall far too quickly.

Do you catch what I'm saying? I'm not disputing your assertion that nylons
are hot. Please understand that I fully accept your valid experience with
wearing them. All I am saying is that a material's
breathability has little if anything to do with whether it is a synthetic or
a natural fiber, and that nylons, while being hot, aren't hot because they
are made of nylon as opposed to, say, cotton or silk.


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