True to their word, Eclipse Textiles landed a huge bundle of high tech fabrics on my doorstep today. I was sort of hoping it’d be one sample every now and then, but there were well over a dozen so it looks like I have some work to do. Many of these fabrics I’ve never even heard of which is exciting to say the least! It’ll take some time to get through all these but let’s get started … I’ll try to do one every few days or so … or until you beg me to stop
Now everyone knows I have a bias toward Carvico products because I’ve used them without a single failure for over a decade. To my delight, at the top of my testing pile is a Carvico product called Dolomiti. Dolomiti is an 85% polyester / 15% Lycra textile designed for use in high performance sport where the garment is required to provide a degree of warmth. Dolomiti’s main features are its soft felt-like inner surface (see photo below) and a weight of around 250g/sqm.
The technical data sheet says it’s also designed as a base for sublimation printing which is curious considering its high Lycra content but this isn’t something I can test for myself. Eclipse tell me there have been no printing issues so far. Carvico suggest Dolomiti as a good choice for sport cycling, running, cross country skiing, sailing etc … sports in which the cool wind and weather may otherwise prove a challenge. My immediate assumption however was that this would also be the perfect textile for figure skating or dance lessons on those freezing Saturday mornings in winter! That immediate assumption proved slightly incorrect when I quickly realised it’s only available in white as a printing base … if you want a coloured version their equivalent product is an 85% polyamide / 15% Lycra textile called Vuelta … supposedly the same fuzzy lining, handling and performance properties and features, only coloured … Eclipse currently stock this in black for sale by the meter and can currently only supply colours as a roll of 70 meters (this is where I was hoping that better information and public demand might lead to greater stock availability in the future!)
Dolomiti is really much like a double thickness swimwear fabric meaning it remains opaque even at full stretch. What I don’t like, however, is the lack of whiteness to the Dolomiti even though it’s designed to be printed. This would obviously not be a problem for the dyed Vuelta. I’m not sure why it seems off white because the ribs in the knit are very smooth (they need to be for sublimation printing).
Dolomiti wicks up water extremely well making it great for taking sweat from the skin, but making it hopeless and heavy as a swimwear or diving fabric (I really don’t think it’d be good as a skiing fabric either, as Carvico suggest, for the same reason). For the purposes of this assessment I’m going to assume I’d use it for ice skating (or at least the Vuelta) and dance on cold mornings.
Dolomiti does have one flaw in my opinion, in that it does not stretch uniformly in two directions as suggested by their technical data sheets. Perpendicular to the ribs it stretches easily and rebounds strongly and suggests up to 6-8% negative ease applied to the pattern in this direction, however parallel to the rib it stretches only half as well with a significantly higher rebound tension meaning applying negative ease to this direction would be ill advised. I’d be looking at turning the pattern such that the greatest stretch direction went around the body and then dropping horizontal negative ease to 6% only, with zero ease on the vertical. Normally dropping negative ease allows a greater size envelop for ready to wear sizing, but when you need to do it because of the fabrics limitations the opposite applies, ie; you’d better get your demographics precise if you want ready-to-wear sizing in a tight fitting garment made of Dolomiti … although it’d be worth the effort!
As you’d expect with a heavy weight fabric, it handles and cuts like a dream and doesn’t easily distort if you’re pinning a pattern the home sewist way. It’s very easy to hold and control at all machine speeds and doesn’t slip even the slightest bit face to face. Industrial machine needles 80/12 and 90/14 both penetrate without leaving holes when you unpick the seam. Domestic universal stretch needles 75/11 tended to leave holes that took a fair time to close over. I ran the test using 120 core polyester thread (fairly common to the clothing industry) and found my industrial cover stitching sat a bit too far into the fabric rather than across the top when top stitching fold over elastic. Lowering the tensions didn’t seem to make any difference. I think this is due to the softness on the underside of the fabric. Changing to 75 core poly thread (larger diameter thread) made some improvement but still dug in. When cover stitching a hem without elastic it was much better. Zig-zag top stitching using a 75/11 stretch needle on a domestic sewing machine sat reasonably well on top. What failed completely was a domestic cover stitch machine … this simply could not top stitch across a seam without dropping stitches no matter how many ways I tried … much like the problems you get sewing fleece … this however is the fault of domestic cover stitch machines and not the fabric.
What pleasantly surprised me was the teeth on the industrial overlocker did not damage the soft underside at high speed as is often the case with fleecy fabrics. This is certainly a very hard wearing, abrasion resistant fabric.
I’m going to order a sample of the Vuelta to make some warm leggings for the darling wife (as she loves the feel of the inside as well) and use those to illustrate a manufactured product. With a little creativity, dance and skatewear designers with access to sublimation printers could literally design a garment with all the colours pre-determined and simply cut out each printed pattern piece from the fabric (with seams and notches also printed right on), sew and embellish with bling-bling. No separate chaffing panels or linings to worry about … talk about easy!