More Brilliant Turning Points

July 28, 2009


So another brilliant turning point is another non-woven, felted-like, material known as Ultrasuede.    It’s that expensive stuff that feels like suede leather and you can buy it in the fabric store either in 9″ x 12″ sheets or by the yard off the roll but it’s washable and breathable, unlike real suede leather.

Ultrasuede is an amazing durable, ultra-microfiber invented by the people at Toray Industries, an American company with primary manufacturing and research facilities in Italy and 240 other locations worldwide.  The fiber used to make Ultrasuede is 24 times finer then a human hair.

A few months after this ultra-microfiber was invented, Toray Industries figured out how to make this fiber into what we now know as Ultrasuede.

Ultrasuede begins as spun polymer ultra-microfibers that are extremely light.  The manufacturer’s say that a strand 50 miles long would weigh LESS then a gram.  These ultra-microfibers are then extruded through protective spinnarets that result in each ultra-microfiber floating in a strand of polymer coating, (similar to multi-cabled wire encased in vinyl that jewelry makers use).  The resulting fibers are then ironed, curled and essentially needle felted to make Ultrasuede fabric.  Once the fabric is formed, the polymer coating is dissolved and the material is further processed to make it soft and pliable.

I also use Ultrasuede in bookbinding and as an art supply.  It’s durability, interesting texture and versatility have made it a staple in my studio.  I’ve used it for making refillable bound polymer books for the spine/hinge mechanism, backing for jewelry pieces, as incorporated bits in other things.  It is so strong that it can be used as the mechanical piece for a moving hinge but still look nice, too.

Selection of Ultrasuede from Michiko's (ultrasuedeshop.com)

Selection of Ultrasuede from Michiko's (ultrasuedeshop.com)

I find Ultrasuede garments at the thrift store and cut them up for my purposes.  It’s less expensive this way.  But there are over 60 colors of Ultrasuede including zebra and other animal prints and patterns that are hard to find.  Good resources are:  suedeshop.com, Pacific Fabrics (www.pacificfabrics.com) among others if you’re interested.

Ahhh, technology is at it’s finest when used as art!

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2 Responses to “More Brilliant Turning Points”

  1. Annette said

    Hey Meredith – Thanks for the referral! We carry colors and patterns other than what you see on our web site, also and are always happy to check our stock if you can’t find what you need. Your designs are delightful!
    Annette Millard, Pacific Fabrics & Crafts

  2. meredith11 said

    Thanks for the comment Annette! I LOVE Pacific Fabrics. What a great resource for mixed media stuff! I troll through the store just so I can tell my students what is available. Thanks again, Annette.

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