Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Fabrics Choices for Special Needs Clothing
Second of our three part series addressing clothing & fabrics for those with special needs. Consider the following points when buying (or making) a garment for that individual who has special needs.
• Durability: Choose fabrics that are tightly rather than loosely constructed so they will be strong and resist friction damage. Though synthetics (e.g., polyester, nylon) are highly durable they are not always the most comfortable. So I would suggest a blend of natural (e.g. cotton) fabrics with synthetic fibers to achieve both durability and comfort.
• Easy maintenance: This is a must for many special needs clothing cases where stains and soiling of the garment can occur frequently. The best option would be a machine washable garment that can be dried by machine as well. Of course, a fabric that is wrinkle resistant will keep a crisp appearance longer and reduces the amount of ironing needed. Again, a blend of natural (e.g. cotton) and man-made (e.g. polyester) fibers should work best.
• Absorbency: Natural fibers absorb moisture and allow for air movement. This ability to “breathe” helps regulate body temperature. If someone is sensitive to temperature a good natural fiber, such as cotton would be ideal. If you get a blend fabric try for percents that have more natural fibers than synthetics, such as an 80/20. For example, a shirt tag that says 80% cotton and 20% polyester would be a good choice.
• Static Electricity: Another reason to choose a garment made of fabric that is a blend of natural and synthetics fibers that has a higher percent of natural fibers is to reduce static electricity build up. This will reduce electric static shocks and the clinginess of the fabric.
• Thermal insulation: For an individual that often feels cold, look for garments that will help trap air to provide thermal insulation and warmth. Wool and acrylic fibers are good insulators. Of course, there is always thermal clothing to use too.
• Anti-Bacteria Fabrics: Body odor can be a concern of someone with special needs. Man-made fibers, like polyester, will hold body odors more than a natural fiber like cotton. There are anti-bacterial finishes available that help prevent the development and retention of body orders.
• Allergies: Does the wearer have any allergies to particular fabrics or finishes? Generally cotton seldom causes allergic reactions.
• Skin irritation: Sometimes fabric rubbing against the skin can cause irritation. You often will find straps have a soft absorbent fabric or pad where it rubs against the body. This is to reduce the surface contact a fabric has directly with a body. You can also choose fabrics that have raised surfaces such as terry cloth, velour and so forth.
• Ease of Dressing: Knit fabrics that can stretch are less likely to tear than a woven. They also can conform to shapes resulting in a better fit. You may also want to choose lighter fabrics that don’t add weight and pressure on a frail body.
• Flammability: Good fiber and fabric choices to minimize the hazards of fire are: cottons and rayons with flame resistant finishes and wool fabrics. Nylon and polyester are not highly flammable but if heated they may melt, resulting in skin burns. Avoid acrylics, olefins, acrylic cotton blends, fabrics with a high degree of surface nap or pile and loose open weaves,