Description : Cashmere is more like wool than any other hair fibre. The fibres are extremely fine and soft. Cashmere is not very durable however - it is easily abraded, for example, from shoulder straps. Cashmere is about 50% warmer than wool - hence cashmere garments tend to be lighter than their wool equivalents. It can be knitted or woven, and is found in a range of fabrics from soft jersey knits to woven coatings.
Fabrication : Cashmere is obtained from domesticated Kashmir goats in the Himalayas, in Tibet, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, India, Pakistan and China. The hair is obtained from brushing the undercoat of these goats in the spring. The goats produce a double fleece consisting of the fine, soft undercoat or underdown of hair mingled with a straighter and much coarser outer coating of hair called guard hair. In order for the fine under down to be sold and processed further, it must first be de-haired. De-hairing is a mechanical process that separates the coarse hairs from the fine hair and after de-hairing the resulting "cashmere" is ready to be dyed and converted into yarn, fabrics and garments. The annual world production of "pure cashmere" is estimated to be about 6,500 tons.
Subtypes : Cashmere fibres may be raw, processed, virgin or recycled.
Dyes, color treatment and washing characteristics : Cashmere should be hand washed or dry cleaned. If hand washing, use lukewarm water with soap flakes or liquid soap. Try not to rub or twist the garment as this may cause pilling. After washing, rinse the garment in cool water until all the soap is removed, squeezing gently without wringing. Squeeze away excess water in a towel. To dry, leave the garment to dry naturally away from direct heat and sunlight. It is important not to spin or tumble dry.
Draping properties : Cashmere fabrics drape beautifully and have a superb nap.
Cutting properties : Make certain that the fabric doesn't drape off the cutting table, as this will pull the fabric out of shape during cutting. If edges curl, press them before laying out the fabric or use a spray starch. When pressing cashmere, make sure you use a press cloth. Use a dry iron, but mist the press cloth lightly with water before applying the iron. When pressing cashmere, make sure you use a press cloth. Use a dry iron, but mist the press cloth lightly with water before applying the iron. Try to use the tip of the iron rather than the whole iron base.
Sewing challenges : Cashmere has similar sewing properties and challenges as several wool fabrics - jersey, wool flannel, melton. However, you need to treat it very carefully. It is really easy to overpress it. Cashmere will have a tendency to hold impressions at the seamline, and it takes on a shine rather too easily. Nonetheless with careful handling, cashmere sews up beautifully and yields stunning results.
Example creations : Cashmere and silk blazer, Red bolero, 1920s style beret, White coat, Men's coat,
Uses worldwide : Sweaters, skirts, tops, jackets, coats.
Origins and history : Cashmere shawls are mentioned as early as the 3rd century B.C. However, the cashmere garment industry finds it roots in 15th century Kashmir, when weavers were imported from Turkestan. The French developed their own cashmere spinning process in the late 18th century, and the Scottish developed a cashmere spinning patent in 1831.
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