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What is it?

lin327 | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I went to a giant auction sale and bought some case lots of vintage fabrics and patterns.  One box has presented me with a mystery.  All the bolts are tagged “100% qiana; the new miracle fibre”  it’s slippery, clingy and clammy when I drape it over my arm.  If the bolts rub together they crackle with static.  It’s quite the horrid stuff.  I can see why it’s not available any longer, but I need to know the exact fibre so I can store it properly.  oh yeah, it came from the 1970’s case lot, and the patterns were all for those wrapped and ruffled disco dresses.


  1. Rita_Scanlan | | #1

    Howdy Lin!

    Here is an entry from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Web site...

    Qiana: A former registered trademark for a silk-like nylon fiber composed of PACM-12. Qiana was first introduced in 1968. However, that fiber is no longer produced and the name is currently used at DuPont for a certification mark for any fabrics reaching a set standard. Qiana fabric had the look and feel of silk but can be machine washed. It is resistant to abrasion and most chemicals.

    Hope that gives you somewhere to start.


    1. lin327 | | #2

      Thanks!  "The look and feel of Silk?!"  Not any silk that I've seen or felt!

      1. carolfresia | | #3

        Hey! I had a great little Qiana shirt back in the 1970s that I thought was the coolest thing! OK, in retrospect, this nylon stuff is pretty weird, but compare it to the really awful polyesters available at the time and you'll realize it was actually not all that bad. Today's microfibers are a whole lot better, thankfully. I'm not sure what to suggest you do with your marvelous find, unless you need to make a costume for a 1970s retro event.


        1. lin327 | | #4

          I plan on making a few retro inspired things for a store that sells to the so called club scene.  The rest I'm putting in storage to preserve it for the future.  So far I've found this Qiana to be so horrid to work with I can see why so many gave up sewing in the mid seventies.

          1. sarahkayla | | #5

            Thank you for reminding me of the truly horrible bride's maid dress i wore to my sister's wedding in 1980. It was Quina in "american beauty rose red" and had weird fluttery sleeves. It was purchased in Pricilla's of Boston the day after I had arrived from a night owl flight from texas. I was too stunned by sleep deprivation to protest too much. My mother was deeply impressed that it came from such an august store (they did make Tricia Nixon's wedding dress)and the price tag, $35.

            For my next sister's wedding a year later i was dressed as an escapee from a prom somewhere in the deep south ( My apoligies to all of you readers from south of the mason dixon line) - it was an antebellum wonder, and at $25 made my mother really happy. My humiliation was increased by seeing what the groom's sister was wearing - a truly chic 1920's looking linen dress. I made peace (sort of) with the fact that for all history i would be recorded wearing two of the ugliest and least likely dresses i would ever put on my body.

            When I got married i let all involved wear whatever they wanted. i gave loose color suggestions (anything from ivory through pink to purple ) hey i knew I was the only bride... besides we were dealing with such a wide array of body types that it seemed mean to force people to wear those awful dresses.

            forgive the rant - quiana has the tendancy to do that to people... I remember Robin the rich girl in my class, commenting on a new blouse in her collection "....and it's quiana", oooh! This was probably 1976 - all the rich girls wore Quiana, the rest of us all wore cotton poly.


          2. lin327 | | #6

            LOL!  You were better off in the cotton poly!  After two hours of torture trying to cut out a retro shirt I gave up!  Maybe after a good nights sleep.....

          3. NansiM | | #7

            My best friend's wedding gown was Qiana.  She LOVED it!  But I never got the "silk" comparison either.  I guess the best thing you could say about it was that it had beautiful drape and movement.  as for sewing on it, a true ball point needle was a definite MUST!  I'm glad we've moved on to other fabrics.  One of these days we'll haer about it in fashion history.

          4. rjf | | #8

            Hi Lin327

            I remember that Qiana shirt Carol Fresia mentions quite well.  It was a little picky to work on but we had a great pattern so it looked wonderful.  The sleeves and body were cut as one and it was gathered at the back neck.  It had a shirt collar and band but the really interesting feature was a gusset cut in were the shoulder seam would have been.  Very classy.  And of course, it went in the washer and dryer.  But the primary use for that fabric, as I remember, was bathing suits and skating costumes (much more sedate than today however).  I do remember thinking "Good heavens, we're joining the age of plastic!"  The ball-point needle is essential, as someone said, unless you want to lose your mind over skipped stitches. (I bet that pattern is still in the downstairs filing cabinet)

          5. carolfresia | | #9

            No, it's not! I swiped it on one of my visits in the past year or so, so it's now in MY pattern stash. However, I'll bet it's too small for me at this point, and I'm not so sure I want to try to alter that particular design up. I might take a look at it, though. It would probably be great in a nice (real) silk or washed rayon...I ran across a silk chambray last year that would have been perfect.

            I think the blouse itself might still be in the attic! It's probably the only thing up there that doesn't have a mouse-chewed hole in it by this time, so I guess we have to applaud Qiana for that, too. What I'm wondering is where that fabric came from: the old Buttons and Bolts, perhaps?

            And did I mention that there was a check-out woman who worked in the grocery store I used to go to whose name was Qiana? I asked her if she was named after the fabric, and she told me her mother named her after a blouse, so I guess she was! It's not a bad name, actually...


          6. rjf | | #10

            Good Morning,

            I'm not sure where that Qiana come from; Buttons'n'Bolts doesn't sound quite right but we got practically everything there so maybe.  Did you pick it out? Well, I'm glad you've got the pattern.  Who was the designer?  Didn't it have a classy name on it?  It was so oversized to begin with that it seems you wouldn't need much alteration.  Maybe just the collar?

            Now, why would a mother name her daughter after a blouse?

            I'm taking one of my new towels golfing with Mrs Coulter.  She was properly impressed....or at least she made the right noises.        rjf

          7. carolfresia | | #11

            I gather she was named after the blouse because she liked the sound of Qiana--it wasn't so much the blouse itself, but I don't think this cashier quite got it!


          8. lin327 | | #12

            All I wanted to know was the content of a mystery fibre!  Thanks to everyone for sharing thier memories of this strangely plastic fabric.  I'm going back to my original plan; I'm storing the patterns and fabric in archive quality boxes, and putting it somewhere safe along with a printout of all these messages.  Then when I am old and grey I will pass them on to a museum or another fabric collector, and they can enjoy, also.  Altogether, a quite amusing thread!

          9. SueLaT | | #13

            Just one more post about Qiana, if you can stand it. This is actually the name of the fiber, not the type of fabric. I sewed several garments out of Qiana in the 70's. It was available in forms that ranged from slinky knits to some that were very similar to silk broadcloth. The knits were definitely very slinky. I had almost forgotten the red paisley print maternity dress that I wore to my husband's college commencement. Lordy! The wovens were very tightly woven and were a bear to use in a set-in sleeve pattern. They also were light as a feather and very static-y in the days long before Static-Guard. Fabric softener left permanent greasy spots on the woven Qiana. The knits were used in several "store bought" lines of blouses such as Lady Manhatten. That was the peak time for blouses with narrow ties, remember? Have you noticed that the pattern books are full of blouses with ties again? Sure, now that we have finally purged our closets! I'm sorry, I'm just not old enough yet to have the fashion cycle repeat itself in my lifetime. I had a garage sale last summer and you should have heard the college girls exclaiming over the "cool vintage" clothes! Please--I'm only 52!

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