You very well might hear this word used to describe a transparent or translucent plastic sheet material, either tinted with color or simply colorless. A variety of industries use these sheets either as an overlay – say, for making notations without harming the material underneath – or as the basis of artwork itself. However, when you hear the word acetate in the fashion design and interior design worlds, most likely the one uttering it is referring to a type of fabric or thread.
Acetate is the generic name for a cellulose acetate fiber. Textile fibers, yarns, threads, and fabrics made from these fibers are called acetate. It is thin and lightweight and used in everything from coat linings to draperies, either by itself or in a blend. Acetate is usually crisp or soft (depending on end use), wrinkle- and shrinkage-resistant, fast-drying, silky and luxurious in appearance, and relatively inexpensive. The fabric drapes well and dyes well, but it has limitations with regard to abrasion resistance and strength of fiber. As typical with most materials, you can’t have everything!