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  1. #1
    Nhott's Avatar
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    Fabric Q and A for Noobs

    Thank you to all who participate and voice your opinion. My goal is to create a reference for those of us who have basic questions. I will keep updating this first post as we move forward so if you have a question please ask it. Better yet, if you think there is something not covered and should be, then post it. I will add it and create a link to your post as a reference.

    Q: What does the letter D refer, for example 30D?
    A: "D" stands for Denier. It's a numbering system for fibers, filaments and yarns, in which the lower numbers are lighter/finer and the higher numbers heavier/coarser. Denier is the mass in grams of 9,000 metres of the yarn. The denier of yarns used to weave mainstream light-weight tent fabrics fall in the 30d to 75d range. It is common to use the yarn denier to describe the fabric, for example, "70d nylon". This simply means that the fabric is woven from 70 denier nylon yarns and, alone, is not a reliable comparison of fabric mass.

    Q: What does the letter T refer, for example 190T?
    A: "T" stands for Thread Count – specifically the number of warp and fill threads in a square inch. The lower numbers represent a loosely woven fabric and the higher number a tightly woven fabric. These two numbers together help indicate the strength and feel of a piece of fabric.

    Q: Is a 30d fabric half the weight of a 60d one in the same type of fibre?
    A: The answer is no because it is also a matter of weave density, stated as ‘thread count’ or ‘yarn count’. A 30d yarn will be about 70% the diameter of a 60d yarn or the same fibre (half the cross-sectional area). Fabrics made from finer yarns are naturally more finely-woven, otherwise the fine yarns would be widely spaced and the fabric loose and unstable. Weave density is measured by counting the number of warp yarns or 'ends' there are across one inch of the fabric and adding to this the number of weft yarns or 'picks' there are down one inch of the fabric. 75d 190T taffeta, a common tent weave, has a total of 190 yarns (maybe 90 ends per inch plus 100 picks per inch), and all the yarns or threads are 75 denier. A typical thread count for a stable 30d fabric is 240T. In its ‘loom-state’ (before any finishes are applied) this 30d fabric has a mass per unit area over half that of the 75d fabric but the denier ratio is well under half (at 0.4). After a coating and other finishes are applied the relative difference in finished mass between the two fabrics may be as little as 20%, a far cry from 30d vs 75d. (For your reference, 1 ounce per square yard = 34 grams per square metre).

    Q: If I want to make a basic 10’ hammock, which fabric will be the lightest?
    A: You will have to figure out the GSM (grams per square meter) but generally speaking when comparing the same denier, ripstop .

    Q: How do I do that?
    A: 1.Cut a fabric sample of 10cmX10cm, 2.Measure weight of that specimen (sample) in grams. Here you have fabric weight per 100 square-centimeter. 3.Convert fabric weight into grams per square-meter. To calculate it multiply above weight by 100. This will be GSM of the fabric. 4.For accuracy test with multiple (e.g. 5 samples) samples and calculate average GSM.

    Q: How do I convert GSM to oz/yd˛ and vice versa?
    A: There is an easy way to convert gsm to oz/yd˛. Divide the gsm by 33.906. To determine gsm from oz/yd˛ you do the reverse - multiple by 33.906.

    Q: What is Taffeta material?
    A: taffeta, cloth, originally silk but now also made of synthetic fibers, supposed to have originated in Persia. The name, derived from Persian, means "twisted woven." Taffeta is in the same class and demand as satin made of silk. The cloth is made of a plain or tabby weave, and the textures vary considerably. For more info see Ramblinrev's post #5 below.

    Q: What is Crinkle Fabric? (Crepe)
    A: A lightweight fabric of silk, rayon, cotton, wool, man-made, or blended fibers, and characterized by a crinkled surface. This surface is obtained through the use of crepe yarns (yarns that have such a high twist that the yarn kinks), and by chemical treatment with caustic soda, embossing, or weaving (usually with thicker warp yarns and thinner filling yarns). Although crepe is traditionally woven, crepe yarns are now used to produce knit crepes.

    Q: I see fabric manufactures listing taffeta and crinkle as parachute nylon. What’s up with that?
    A: See post #3 below from Ramblinrev

    Q: What is Ripstop Nylon?
    A: There are multiple ways to manufacture ripstop nylon. Most of the time, the ripstop grid is actually made by using the same D fiber just woven tighter within the grid structure. This isn't always the case, as you will see some fabrics with a designation such as 300Dx400D, meaning that the base fabric is made from 300D thread while the reinforcement ripstop grid is made with a thicker 400D thread. In such a case, the ripstop grid will be noticeably raised compared to the base fabric.

    Q: What is Air Permeability?
    A: Air Permeability is the ability of a fabric to allow air to pass through it. While Air Permeable fabrics tend to have relatively high moisture vapor transmission, it is not necessary to be Air Permeable to be breathable.

    Q: What is Breathability?
    A: Breathability is the ability of a fabric to allow moisture vapor to be transmitted through the material.

    Q: What is Calendering?
    A: Calendering by definition is a mechanical leveling, and segmenting process for “finishing” fabrics or webs to obtain or produce a special effect. More specifically Calendering it is a process by which the fabric is folded in half and ran through heated, heavy rollers to seal the tiny holes in the weave. The result is a fabric that has two distinct sides, one shiny (the calendered side) and one unaltered or matte finish.

    Q: Does calendered mean that it’s downproof?
    A: No.

    Q: Does downproof mean that it’s been calendered?
    A: Yes

    Q: What is Silnylon?
    A: There are 2 types. See post 3 below from Ramblinrev for more info. The best is made by impregnating a thin woven nylon fabric with liquid silicone from both sides. This makes it strong for its weight, as the silicone substantially improves the tear strength. It is also highly waterproof, but not breathable.

    Q: What are some key characteristics regarding Polyester?
    A: Polyester - Absorbs less water than nylon, dries slower, more UV resistant than nylon, resistant to stretching and shrinking, resists pilling, mildew resistant.

    Q: What are some of the key characteristics regarding Nylon?
    A: Nylon- Absorbs more water than polyester, dries quickly, stretches, shrink resistant, mildew resistant.

    Q: Between Polyester and Nylon, which is better for color especially patterns? e.g. Camo
    A:Polyester absorbs more color faster than nylon due to the same properties that made it better at wicking water. Dyed polyester expels the water in the dye but not the dye itself, which bonds with the fibers. Nylon absorbs water, resulting in less dye bonding to the fibers. Polyester is hydrophobic, meaning it does not absorb water. This means that when it is dyed, only the color of the dye dissolves into the fabric (not any water-base), making the dye permanent. Nylon possesses hydrophilic qualities (that is, it absorbs water). Its inability to repel water causes the fabric to swell and ultimately weakens the molecular structure. The dyestuffs used on nylon tend to oxidize, a reaction which is catalyzed by light. The microscopic effects range from color fading to complete degradation of the polymer matrix.
    Last edited by Nhott; 05-07-2014 at 21:03.
    "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail." - Heraclitus

  2. #2
    pinballwizard's Avatar
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    awesome!!!
    “All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Silicon treated nylon comes in two varieties. Impregnated nylon is what you describe. There is also a silicon coated nylon which uses a traditional coating process with silicon. The two are often referred to generically as silnylon by vendors and manufacturers who are not overly picky about their terminology. They are not the same product. So make sure you know which you are getting, if it matters to you. The coated process is usually cheaper but it is also has different characteristics. Impregnated silnyl will mist under heavy rains but is extremely durable and will not peel. Silicon coated nylon may be more avoid the misting issue but can peel off and result in loss of protection. The coating is not as durable and may not last as long.

    Parachute nylon attempts to draw an arbitrary correlation between plain weave nylon and the silk fabric used for decades as the basis for parachutes. The term has no practical meaning beyond that reference. It is used to designate a lightweight plain weave nylon broadcloth for folks who can not decipher the preceding terms.

    Taffeta is a specific weave pattern. It is not identical to a plain weave fabric. The difference is subtle but they are technically two different weave patterns.
    Last edited by Ramblinrev; 05-05-2014 at 13:44.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  4. #4
    Nhott's Avatar
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    I am glad that you jumped in on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    Silicon treated nylon comes in two varieties. Impregnated nylon is what you describe. There is also a silicon coated nylon which uses a traditional coating process with silicon. The two are often referred to generically as silnylon by vendors and manufacturers who are not overly picky about their terminology. They are not the same product. So make sure you know which you are getting, if it matters to you. The coated process is usually cheaper but it is also has different characteristics. Impregnated silnyl will mist under heavy rains but is extremely durable and will not peel. Silicon coated nylon may be more avoid the misting issue but can peel off and result in loss of protection. The coating is not as durable and may not last as long.
    Awesome info.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    Parachute nylon attempts to draw an arbitrary correlation between plain weave nylon and the silk fabric used for decades as the basis for parachutes. The term has no practical meaning beyond that reference. It is used to designate a lightweight plain weave nylon broadcloth for folks who can not decipher the preceding terms.
    That makes sense. More great info.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    Taffeta is a specific weave pattern. It is not identical to a plain weave fabric. The difference is subtle but they are technically two different weave patterns.
    This one I am still stuck on. From everything I have read taffeta is the basic over under of warp and weft creating a checkerboard as you go down. Isn't that what plain weave is?

    http://www.shieldextrading.net/woven_fabrics.html
    "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail." - Heraclitus

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nhott View Post
    This one I am still stuck on. From everything I have read taffeta is the basic over under of warp and weft creating a checkerboard as you go down. Isn't that what plain weave is?
    Ahhh the idiosyncrasies of fabric designations. Technically you are correct. It appears that taffeta is subset of the plain weave fabrics. However, it is a _specific_ subset. Again I do not have a good enough grasp of the topic to define the differences but it appears to be reflected in the weight, tension, density and finish of the fabric. For example, chiffon is designated as a "plain weave" fabric but it's characteristics are significantly different from a taffeta or crepe (also a plainweave). The point being, merely identifing you want a plain weave fabric is not sufficient to get a taffeta. Taffeta is a specific fabric type. It can be made from different fibers, but it has specific characteristics.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

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  6. #6
    Nhott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    Ahhh the idiosyncrasies of fabric designations. Technically you are correct. It appears that taffeta is subset of the plain weave fabrics. However, it is a _specific_ subset. Again I do not have a good enough grasp of the topic to define the differences but it appears to be reflected in the weight, tension, density and finish of the fabric. For example, chiffon is designated as a "plain weave" fabric but it's characteristics are significantly different from a taffeta or crepe (also a plainweave). The point being, merely identifing you want a plain weave fabric is not sufficient to get a taffeta. Taffeta is a specific fabric type. It can be made from different fibers, but it has specific characteristics.
    Gotcha. I'll use this definition "Taffeta: A crisp, tightly woven fabric with a fine crosswise rib that’s easily identifiable by the rustling sound that it makes." from http://www.dummies.com/how-to/conten...nd-fabric.html
    "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail." - Heraclitus

  7. #7

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    Hmmmm...the Grand Trunk Ultralight hammock is sold as polyester taffeta but I would not describe it as crisp or making a rustling sound. I suspect you can get many varying definitions of fabrics from the internet.

    I have to hold it/feel it to have any confidence I really know what it will be. Maybe that's just my lack or knowledge.

  8. #8
    Nhott's Avatar
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    Suitable taffeta definition added in 1st post.
    "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail." - Heraclitus

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Oh dear.... another can of worms opened..... satin is a distinct weave which is _not_ one of the plain weave fabrics. That one I am sure of. I'll bet you didn't realize the rat's nest you were getting into The rest of your post is good. But sometimes it doesn't pay to try and get too specific.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  10. #10
    Nhott's Avatar
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    Fabric Q and A for Noobs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    Oh dear.... another can of worms opened..... satin is a distinct weave which is _not_ one of the plain weave fabrics. That one I am sure of. I'll bet you didn't realize the rat's nest you were getting into The rest of your post is good. But sometimes it doesn't pay to try and get too specific.
    That I did come across today. I have much to learn on my personal quest to build my personal perfect 4 season hammock setup.
    Last edited by Nhott; 05-05-2014 at 20:46.
    "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail." - Heraclitus

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