Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What? - Crimplene

 (ICI) developed and trademarked Crimplene in the 1950s. The thick polyester yarn is called Crimplene as is fabric made from this yarn. The yarn can be woven, but was most usually seen in a double knit. Crimplene fabric is heavy, wrinkle-resistant, wash-and-wear and easy to sew.
Crimplene will always give me fond memories. As a young child I remember having numerous outfits and other things made from the fabric. We lived in an area where various family friends worked at the Celenese plant in Millhaven. It was the Millhaven Fibers Plant and was the third polyester plant in the world opening in the fall of 1955. I always just remembered it as Celenese in Millhaven but see that name entered in 1972. It had started life as a polyester tire plant but in the late 60's early 70's it switched to yarns. The reason I had numerous things made from crimplene was the fact that the plant sold ends by the pound. I remember digging through a garbage bag, picking out colours, and then cutting squares so a blanket could be made. It seemed everyone in the neighbourhood had one of these blankets in their car, on the porch, with the picnic basket. It was something that could be thrown on the ground and easily washed out and then hung on the line if it got dirty.
During the 80's lines kept shutting down in the plant and they became one of the many textiles plants that closed or were retrofitted to create something else. Millhaven Fibers ceased to exist and now Celenese creates emulsion polymers and medical molds etc, not crimplene.

 Various adverts can be found like the one above showing men's shirts made from the fabric. I mostly just remember men wearing the pants and seeing what was referred to as leisure suits on TV. Like Mr Furley on Three's Company, this is how I practically always picture Don Knotts.

This following pattern picture is one of the most common looks I remember. These are also similar to what you can mostly find at vintage or thrift shops now. The vibrancy of the colours and prints were exceptional and it is one of the reasons crimplene is so recognizable and still has a following. Much of the clothing you can find nowaday looks new, the main thing when looking at it is to check for pilling, snags and pulls. But then if you are a purchaser of vintage or used clothing this is one of the standards to check for on anything.

 This is more similar to what I would of been wearing. Though by the time I reached the age of the girls in the advert I refused to wear crimplene. It may be extremely easy to care for because it was wash and wear but I assure you on a hot day it is not your friend.

Now if I could of had an outfit like Diana Riggs/Emma Peel from The Avengers I probably would of lived in it. This is one of the iconic looks of Emma Peel. I always was envious of her wardrobe and I have to admit I still am. She was one of the first strong self-sufficient women I remember from TV and she had the coolest clothes and boots.

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