The comfort provided by a piece of clothing has a lot to do with its softness. Some materials are great for structure and practical applications but they don’t feel that good against the skin. Clothing like t-shirts and undergarments should be as soft as possible to avoid irritation. Other items, like sweaters and blankets, need to be soft enough to get cozy in the winter. The softness offered comes down to the material used. So, what are some of the softest materials available for making clothes and soft furnishings?
What are some of the softest fabric materials out there?
It is difficult to state outright that a certain material is the softest fabric around. There is always going to be some debate and while there are scientific scales for this sort of thing, personal preference and experience also come into play. For example. I might feel that cashmere is completely unbeatable because my love of the fabric and memories enhance my experience of touching it. But, you might say that angora is even softer and nicer. There could be some materials that you hadn’t even considered. So, let’s look at some of the softest fabrics around and what we mean by soft.
What is soft?
The definition of soft plays a big part in all of this. For example, some people might say that silk is a soft material but is it more of a smooth material that doesn’t feel rough? Also, scientifically, the softest thing in the world isn’t even a fiber. It is talc, which is a mineral. What we can surely agree on is that the majority of the softest materials are natural in origin, with many examples coming from farmed animals.
Cotton is a common choice for regular wear.
Cotton has long been used for shirts and undergarments because of its softness and lighter feel. Of course, there is also the choice of brushed cotton when it comes to choosing some store-bought items, such as bedsheets. This takes the softness to a different level by fluffing up the fabric. But, the feel does diminish after a while.
Bamboo has crept in as a contender in recent years.
This is perhaps one of the more surprising materials in this guide. With the rest, we know that the source material is soft to begin with. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a tough structure that is used for garden stakes and even suitable as scaffolding. However, many people that use bamboo yarn or get eco-friendly bamboo t-shirts and socks are impressed at how it feels on their skin. So, if you like to knit but want to make something lighter and softer on the body, bamboo yarn may be the way to go.
Wool is a great natural material for warmth, but not necessarily the softest.
Moving onto some animal products now, we have soft wool. There will be arguments over wool as some find it wonderfully soft and perfect for sweaters and blankets and others find it a bit scratchy. It can all depend on how it has been spun and handled. For example, felt can be dense and rough but the wool roving that creates it is exceptionally soft like fur. There is also high demand for Merino wool because of its composition and greater softness over other breeds.
Other animals have hair and fur that is even more prized in fabric construction.
It isn’t just sheep that can provide soft fleeces and materials for material production. Cashmere from the underside of goats is a prized alternative for ultimate comfort, while the hair from Angora rabbits also has a great reputation. However, many people now turn to the Alpaca. Alpaca are an increasingly common farm animal and many feel that their durable wool is actually softer than cashmere.
What about synthetic materials?
While there is a lot of emphasis on natural materials, we need to take a moment to consider some synthetic ones. Many of us love a bit of faux fur as a rug or a throw at home. It creates a cozy feel and is great to run our fingers through. A good piece of polyester/acrylic can mimic real fur without the cruelty of torturing animals in fur farms or shooting wild animals for pelts. They can lose their softness after a few washes, but it is worth it for the clean conscience.
Then there are the sweaters and other knitted items made from acrylic yarn. A lot of store-bought sweaters are acrylic because it is cheaper and you can also get acrylic yarn in a wide range of colors. This can allow for some great items of clothing that are just as comfortable to wear and perhaps not as itchy as wool. Also, synthetic alternatives allow for vegan clothing where there is no risk of any animal product in the garment.
Finding the softest yarn to make the best soft clothing at home.
A lot of the softest materials are available as yarn. This could be as a pure piece with 100% of a single fiber or as a blend. Blends are an interesting way to bring added softness to a project without too big an increase in costs. For example, you could find a product with a touch of cashmere. Just make sure to look at the composition of any product before you buy.
Which of these soft materials should you choose?
There is no right or wrong answer here on which is the best soft material because of variations in taste and applications. You may want nothing but wool or hair for your sweaters and yarn, or you may not be comfortable with these animal products and prefer to go for a synthetic alternative. Or, you may be interested in lighter knits with bamboo or cotton. The best thing to do is to try different options in material or yarn and see which is the best fit. Having a selection on hand may also help when making items for friends and family with different preferences. Play with the patterns and styles and have fun.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my toddler however, that is typically a challenge with her limited attention span, messiness, and desire to always have clean hands. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and fond memory for the both of us.