At the very final end of the downstream process of physiological apparel remain the manufactured goods, the apparel. This is now the time to see the final product in the shops or in a sports stadium, it is ready to be sold to the customer. That’s why one of the key factors of all functional apparel is the presentation of the final product. However, this is not the target of this report. The target in this final report about functional and physiological correct apparel is to give some ideas about making-up. This includes the cutting, sewing and assembling (joining) of the fabrics.
Three Important Factors
Three issues determine the physiological processes involved in wearing of apparel: insulation; moisture transport; and convection and ventilation. The issue with moisture transport should be clarified now. So let’s look at the cutting and manufacturing of the apparel.
The most important factor about all items for functionally correct sportswear is that every piece of the garment fits together. In a modern apparel system one may hear the expression of the so-called “onion-skin” principle. This principle means that all garments, from underwear to outerwear have a defined function and correlate with each other. It is useless if the correct underwear is worn, and on top of all layers is a raincoat that doesn’t breathe. To repeat: It’s not the simple thickness of the fabric, but a perfect system of different apparel layers that determines the insulation value or the undisturbed flow of body moisture to the outside. Better are three lightweight, properly constructed garments, one above the other, than two thick, unsuitable components that disturb the onion-skin principle.
In this principle, it is important to know the difference between convection and ventilation. Convection refers to a convective flow of heat moving from a place at a higher temperature to a lower temperature place. The air plays a crucial role. That’s why it is important that as much air as possible is kept between the different layers to achieve high insulation and heat retention properties. For this, the cut of the apparel and the moving inherent air layers are of great importance for the functioning of the system. This air has better moisture transportation properties because it is continuously renewed, and is not saturated with moisture. In contrast, moving air has a lower insulating capacity, since it can’t warm up long enough and is constantly being replaced.
Ventilation is just the opposite of convection. It means the air exchange between the physical microclimate and the environment. This occurs via the wearer itself, or his loose apparel, for example, through openings such as collars, buttonholes and zippers. If the cut of the apparel is too tight, no convection and ventilation can take place. This can provoke the situation of an unpleasant heat or moisture bottleneck. This condition is well known to everyone, for example when wearing too-tight blue jeans. Even underwear should not be too tight, even if it is highly elastic. Ventilation is an effective way to extend the control range of the apparel.
The Importance Of Sewing
Of utmost importance is the chosen technique to join the fabrics, either with sewing, heat or gluing. The final product determines the assembling technology. If the job is to produce a product for active sports, then it will be lightweight and can be sewed. If one needs a heavy protective and waterproof oilskin like garment, then the best way to join the different fabrics is welding or gluing, depending on the applied coating material. Before starting the assembly, some questions should be clarified:
Which fiber materials must be connected?
What is the stress factor of the apparel?
Do the joining results have a functional or visual effect?
Which method is the most cost-effective?
There are so many factors to be taken into consideration regarding fabrics and finishes such as coatings that for each end-product a precise job specification must be established.
However, a properly designed, applied and produced sewing seam can withstand even the toughest conditions. Sewing can be described as a highly efficient manufacturing process, when all possibilities of modern sewing techniques are applied.
These processes often are associated with the idea of working with the highest economies of scale joining machines. However, this can easily lead to disappointment. The truth is that to reduce the assembly time by welding is only applicable for big lots compared to sewing. Yet, a welded seam completely seals the joints and is ideal for heavy rainwear. Welding is ideal if plastic or plastic-coated fabrics, nonwovens, or film tapes need to be connected. High frequency welding is widely used for coated products.
Another technique is adhesive bonding. However, this technique has little significance, since it cannot compete with the other joining methods. On top of that it is the problem of odors from solvents, and the required compliance with the health and safety conditions.
A proper method for certain material is fusion bonding. With this method projects were carried out with overlapped seams and hems. For these areas of applications adhesive nets and nonwovens adhesives made of co-polyamide and polyurethane are available.
Today, every piece of functional apparel is overloaded with hang tags. There are so many hang tags on certain well-known labels of sportswear that the customer is more irritated than informed by the content. Mostly the content of the hang tags are written for a few professionals but certainly not for the people on Main Street. Again, less, but more in-depth information would be better. Surveys by the author among customers enlightened the fact that most people are irritated and not informed by the hang tags.
Every piece of apparel should be washed before wearing, especially those items which are next to the skin. It is possible that residues from all kinds of machinery and equipment, for example, adhere to the fabric. These chemicals can truly provoke allergies, and not only skin irritations.
Modern apparel, and especially sportswear, must be easy to clean and should remain dimensionally stable. It is frequently changed and washed regularly. Washing at 30 to 40° C should be enough. The products, mainly made of man-made fibers don’t need to be washed at higher temperatures.
Cutting edge yarns, such as microfibers, are delicate, and no mild detergent or so-called fabric softeners should be used. The softener will stick together the space between the fine filaments and the required breathable function fails. A traditional detergent is absolutely enough. Then hang the garment up wet and that’s it.
An Interdisciplinary Game
Talking about sportswear must be carried out in a holistic way. There are so many components that relate with each other. Only the interplay of all factors enables the proper functioning of physiological correct apparel with all the required properties. Before one starts a project, the person should talk to all involved parties. Manufacturing physiological apparel is somewhat the same like producing technical textiles. There too, it is important to consider that from the producer of the yarn up to the maker-up of the product, a lot of interaction and exchange of knowledge and experience is need. And then the success is quite close. So start the race and win the game.
September 2, 2014