Let’s be real—we’ve all had that moment where we cringe at the feeling of clothing on our body. However, for many, including those on the Autism spectrum and with Attention Deficit Disorder, feeling comfort is of the utmost importance. Many individuals experience Sensory Processing Disorder, in which their brains may react negatively to certain sensory stimuli, including sound, touch, taste, and of course, feel. Below, we have compiled some general information on shopping for sensory-friendly fabrics and clothing.
As mentioned in our Fabrics for Sensitive Skin post, natural fibers are one of the most reliable sources of sensory-friendly fabrics. Fibers such as cotton, linen, and bamboo are naturally breathable and insulating, allowing for a more relaxing wear. In grounds such as a voile or chambray, cotton feels smooth and supple against the skin. If you desire a more structured feel, medium-weight linens can add some structure without the need for stiffener or interfacing. Keep in mind that linen features a slubbed, textural feel, which may be pleasing to some or difficult for others.
Protein fibers such as silk and wool are another option. However, silk often has a slippery feel, while wool fibers are of a shorter length and may cause irritation. Some synthetic fibers are also derived from natural sources, including modal and rayon.
As a bonus, all-natural fabrics are biodegradable! If you are an eco-conscious consumer, try shopping for organic or MoodEarth labeled fabrics to ensure the least amount of carbon emissions.
Think Soft & Stretch
There’s nothing quite like a soft sweatshirt! Fleece, jersey, and terry knits all provide a calming cozy feel, plus warmth perfect for the colder months. If you prefer fabric that gives you some wiggle room, look for fabric with a small amount of elastane or spandex. Knits aren’t the only fabrics with stretch—many of our denims and sateens have elastane woven within them for more movement.
One way to add softness & stretch to your fabrics is by pre-washing them. This gives the fabric a “pre-worn” feel that eases the transition from a go-to garment to a new one. In addition, this process pre-shrinks the fabric, significantly reducing the amount of shrinkage a garment will go through during its life cycle.
Grab your “Go-To” Fabrics
Take a look at your closet—what fabrics do you typically wear? Check out the tags of your favorite, most well-loved clothes. For example, if you find that you typically wear polyester, you may feel best sticking with polyester instead of moving to an unfamiliar fiber. In addition, look at the silhouettes that you tend to favor; do you like looser or tighter clothes? What about pants or skirts? All of this research can help you find the clothes and fabric that you like best, without having to spend time in a crowded dressing room.
Avoid Zippers, Tags, and Buttons
While convenient, zippers and buttons may feel awkward when placed on a garment. Plus, they may have a different temperature than the overall fabric, due to the different composition of materials. If you don’t love either closure, try elastic or Velcro. Not only are these options comfortable, they’re easy to sew and even easier to wear! Some patterns, including wrap dresses, can also have self-ties or belts that forgo the need for closures altogether. For those who may be interested, Mood has an ever-expanding compilation of adaptive patterns perfect for those who may not like the feel of buttons or zippers.
While these tips are generally helpful, it is important to remember that each person processes touch differently. When in doubt, order a swatch of any fabric before buying. It will save you money and time by allowing you to feel the fabric before making a garment out of it.
Do you have a favorite sensory-friendly fabric? Let us know below!