What is moleskin?

Written by tracy deluca
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The term moleskin may sound vaguely gross and bring to mind thoughts of animal cruelty and furs, but moleskin is actually a natural fabric made of cotton. Moleskin clothing and first aid bandages are common usages for this material. The soft, durable, windproof and cushioned material is similar to corduroy but feels more like a suede leather. The velvety feel of the nap on this material makes it pleasant to wear. The durability and warmth makes it perfect for outerwear and cold weather gear.

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Definition

There are several different meanings for the word moleskin. While moleskin refers to the skin of an animal called a mole, that is not the most common meaning for the term. The most common is a heavy napped cotton twill fabric that is extremely soft. The fabric is woven and then sheared to cause a soft, short pile on one side of the fabric. Moleskin is also used in first aid and refers to the soft fabric with adhesive backing.

Misconceptions

Moleskin bandages and clothing are made from a cotton fabric that is woven in a particular way. In the past, some items of clothing such as gloves may have been made from the soft, thin and warm skins of moles. In modern times, however, moleskin fabric is not made from the actual skin of moles. Even the moleskin used for bandages is made from the same cotton twill fabric. It is called moleskin due to its softness and the resemblance to actual mole skin.

Function

The durability and close weave of moleskin make it almost windproof and extremely warm and insulating. The fabric is used to make outerwear, trousers and skirts. The clothing made from moleskin fabric is also referred to as moleskin clothing. Most manufacturers of moleskin clothing are British. Many jackets, gloves and outerwear made from moleskin are considered to be high end and are fairly expensive. The softness and short pile of the fabric make it an attractive fabric and it is available in numerous colours and patterns. Traditional moleskin is cotton but newer moleskin fabrics are made from polyester. These newer moleskin fabrics do not have the same characteristics as cotton moleskin.

First Aid Uses

Moleskin fabric is used as a bandage in some forms of first aid and to treat blisters. The material is treated with an adhesive backing on one side and can be attached to the skin. The softness and durability of the fabric helps to cushion sore areas and keep the skin from rubbing and chafing. Blisters can also be treated using moleskin by cutting a circular, ring shaped piece of moleskin and attaching it around the blister. This cushions the area around the blister and prevents further rubbing and abrasion.

Cinematic Uses

Moleskin as a cinematic term is actually completely different. Moleskin in the cinema refers to a flesh coloured piece of adhesive fabric that is used to cover private areas of a body and simulate nakedness. This form of moleskin may or may not be made from the actual moleskin fabric. When a scene calls for nudity but is not a close up or detailed shot, an actor may have moleskin attached to their bodies to preserve their modesty but still have the appearance of full nudity.

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