What Is Modal Fabric, and Why Is It Great for Sleepwear?

From the fresh feeling of cotton to the glamour of satin, everyone has their own preference when it comes to sleepwear or loungewear fabrics. But today we’d like to introduce you to an option you may not have previously considered: modal.

Modal – which you’ll find at Shadowline® in our Before Bed collection – is the lesser-known cousin to viscose (a fiber that’s also known as rayon). Like viscose, it’s semi-synthetic, meaning it’s partially man-made but based on natural fibers. However, modal undergoes additional steps during its creation that make it both stronger and softer, and is regarded as a more luxurious option.

How is modal made?

Modal begins life as beech trees, which are broken down into a pulp from which cellulose can be extracted. This cellulose is then bathed in various chemical solutions, which help to first break it down further into liquid form before binding the individual fibers together to create a yarn. The yarn is washed, bleached, dried, and finally wound onto spools which are sent off to be woven into modal fabric.

Shadowline® Before Bed Modal Short Wrap Robe in ‘Aqua’

What are the benefits of modal fabric?

It’s breathable

Like other plant-based fibers such as cotton, its natural composition plus the particular way it’s woven makes it highly breathable. It’s also about 50% more absorbent than cotton, so it keeps your skin dry and sweat-free. It’s the perfect choice for staying cool and comfortable in summer.

It’s buttery soft

If you’ve ever thought viscose or cotton felt soft, just wait until you try modal! As soft as velvet and as smooth as silk, donning a modal robe is truly like wrapping yourself in a cloud. The lightweight fabric also has a beautiful drape to it, so it looks every bit as good as it feels.

It doesn’t pill

With long fibers and a yarn that’s tightly woven-together, modal is well-known for being durable. That’s one of the reasons we recommend it for loungewear – it may feel like a luxury fabric, but it’s built to withstand the rigors of daily life! It’s resistant to accidental damage, and won’t start pilling and looking old the moment you wash it.

It’s color-fast

Speaking of staying new-looking, modal fabric is exceptionally great at holding dye. That means the colors remain vibrant over time, and you don’t have to worry about a print fading or colors bleeding together. Another reason we thought modal was particularly suited to this collection, which includes both our multi-colored Hummingbird print and our Stripes print that comes in a high-contrast navy and white version.

It’s eco-friendly

While the modal-making process does involve the use of chemicals, in some ways, it can be considered more sustainable than cotton. For example, beech trees require very little water to grow, and each field of beech trees will produce significantly more yarn than a same-sized field of cotton plants.

Shadowline® Before Bed Modal Sleeping Gown in ‘Navy Stripes’

Is modal easy to care for?

Absolutely! You don’t need to worry about taking extra-special care of your modal sleepwear – so long as you stick to a cold wash setting, it can be thrown in the machine with your regular laundry. Here are a few more reasons that we’d call modal an easy-care fabric:

It holds its shape

Unlike viscose, modal becomes stronger when wet, which means that it won’t lose its shape. You can expect the same great fit from your modal loungewear whether you’ve had it a week or you’ve had it a year.

It doesn’t shrink

Modal is less prone to shrinkage than both viscose and cotton – in fact, sometimes manufacturers blend other fibers with modal specifically to prevent them shrinking. So, once again, how it fits when it’s new is how it’s going to fit long-term.

It won’t wrinkle

One of the fabulous things about modal is that you won’t need to spend time ironing it. It dries without creases so you can simply ‘wash and wear’, and always look neat and elegant around your home.

You don’t need softener

Modal is already soft enough! And it retains that super-soft feel even after multiple washes, so you can save money and help the environment by skipping the fabric softener.

Shadowline® Before Bed Modal Placket Front Pajama in ‘Hummingbirds’

There are few fabrics as luxuriously-comfortable as modal – once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to live in it! So it’s a good thing our modal-based Before Bed collection has been specifically designed to work as both homewear and sleepwear.

From robes to sleepshirts to pajamas, we hope you’ll find something to love.