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Keeping You In Stitches: Biking in comfort

A close-up of how woven fabric is constructed as shown in Threads Magazine.

SAINT AUGUSTINE – Recently I wrote about activewear.  I wrote about the importance of the fabric choice because of the range of body motion. The key is to choose a fabric that will be comfortable. Since I am taking up biking again, I am specifically talking about bike wear. Suitable fabrics include knits, wovens and meshes.

Knits often used for these sportswear styles are sweatshirt fleece, velour, stretch terry, textured sweater knits, and double knits, Jersey, and interlock knits.  Lightweight tricot is often used for running shorts and sleeveless tank tops.  Some of these knits have a one-direction stretch quality; others are stable and have little or no elasticity but get their comfort from loose, easy fit.  Obviously, for biking, you would want elasticity and a tight fit.

Woven fabrics recommended for casual garments include poplin, twill and gabardine.  Other sturdy mediumweight fabrics such as chino and plain weaves are also suitable.

Mesh knit fabrics used as inserts, ventilate sportswear and provide an attractive contrast in texture.  Various sizes of mesh are available in cotton, nylon, polyester and blends.

As you select fabrics, notice the fiber content on the bolt-end label or hang tag.  Fabrics made of all-cotton are likely to offer the most comfort because this fiber is absorbent and breathes.  Follow care instructions closely because all-cotton fabrics may fade, shrink, and wrinkle unless special manufacturing finishes have been used.  Blends of cotton with polyester or acrylic fibers are easy to care for.   They are more resistant to shrinkage and wrinkling than are fabrics made from pure cotton.  These blends are less absorbent, which can be an advantage.  The less moisture the fabric holds, the more quickly the garment dries when wet.  But the higher the percentage of synthetic fiber, the less the fabric allows perspiration to evaporate.

Purely synthetic fabrics made from nylon, polyester, or acrylic fiber can be washed and dried by machine; they rarely require ironing (and that’s a good thing.). They are not absorbent, so they dry quickly.  Colors are permanent; many of these fibers that tend to accumulate static electricity are treated to reduce static buildup.

Outdoor activities such as hiking and biking expose you to the climate and to sudden changes in weather.  Select outerwear fabrics to provide efficient protection without adding undue weight or bulk.  Some of these fabrics may be sold in local fabric stores such as Hobby Lobby.  But if not, many are available through mail-order (online) firms that make sports fabrics their specialty.

Next time I will explain the terms that describe the practical benefits that outerwear fabrics can contribute to the sportswear. In the meantime, happy biking.

About Sally Cowan (14 Articles)
After Keeping You in Stitches for over 45 years, Sally enjoys her memories of events that happened on her way to retirement. Author of 6 books, lectures, teaching, and TV host on PBS and now has time for her many cats and Snuggles, the dog. She also loves playing trumpet in the Anastasia Baptist Church orchestra.

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