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Years ago the Thermos® company had the slogan, “Keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.” You can’t say it much better than that. Did you know there are fabrics that help you do the same thing? These aren’t the heavy industrial materials that keep steelworkers, astronauts, and firefighters safe, but honest-to-goodness fabrics you can actually sew with. 

Thermal fabrics are useful for all kinds of projects where you want to keep hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold, such as pot holders and oven mitts, table pads, lunch carriers, shopping totes, ironing board pads, outdoor stadium cushions, tea cozies, and many other items.

And, because of the metallic coatings common to many of types, and the fact that they’re easy to sew, you can even use them to make some pretty creative costumes – from medieval armor to Lady Gaga!

The options fall into three basic categories: 

  • Thermal Batting, which has insulating properties.
  • Thermal Fabric, which can withstand high temperatures without scorching.
  • Thermal Interfacing, which is a lighter weight insulating option.

An important note about microwaving: The materials listed below that have a metallic layer specifically say, “Do not microwave.” None of the rest actually state they are safe to microwave either. So for any kind of thermal fabric, unless it specifically says it’s microwavable, we recommend you don’t risk it. One exception, described at the end of this page, is Wrap-N-Zap by Pellon, which is specifically designed to be microwaved.

Thermal Batting

Insul-Bright

The thermal batting product that’s been around the longest is Insul-Bright from The Warm Company. It’s made with hollow, polyester fibers that have been needle-punched through a nonwoven substrate, and then through a reflective metalized poly film. The needled material is breathable. The hollow fibers insulate by resisting conduction. And the metalized poly film resists radiant energy by reflecting it back to its source.

It contains no resins or glues and will not shift, migrate, or bend. You could use it in clothing, but it would be rather noisy. However, babies and animals often love the noise and like to scrunch it up in soft books and toys.

Insul-Bright is machine washable, easy to cut to size, and apart from being just a bit slippery, is quite nice to work with. Most sources offer it by the yard in 22″ and 45″ widths, and a few outlets offer 36″ x 45″ pre-cuts. 

Even though we’ve listed this material in the ‘batting’ category, The Warm Company does suggest considering two layers or layering Insul-Bright with a standard cotton batting if you are using it for a high-heat application.

A number of sources offer Insul-Bright online, including Fabric Depot, Jo-Ann and Fabric.com. It’s also readily available at many local fabric and craft stores.

Insul-Shine

This space-age thermal batting from The Warm Company was originally designed for insulating air conditioning ducts or wrapping your hot water heater (for which it’s very effective). But Insul-Shine is actually quite sewable.

You can make something simple, like a reflective visor for your car or to put in your RV windows to prevent sun damage. If you’re looking for a mod metallic look, you could also use it to cover a headboard, throw pillows, or make a budding astronaut very happy with some rocket wall art.

Insul-Shine has two layers, reflective material and insulating polyester batting. The metal surface wipes clean and actually acts as a water barrier for soft coolers, diaper bags, and bottle carriers.

It is washable, but doing this may dull the reflective side. Sold in 22″ and 45″ widths.

You can find it at Amazon and Fabric.com among others.

Insul-FAB

Also made by The Warm Company, this thermal batting is very similar to Insul-Shine, but Insul-FAB has an additional layer of white lining-style fabric. It’s a good solution when you want a smoother and more comfortable finish on the interior of your project. 

Because it’s designed not to show the insulation, it’s perfect for insulating totes, lunch sacks, casserole covers, and more.

It’s also machine washable and dryer-safe. We found Insul-FAB by the yard in a 22″ width at CreateForLess.com and in a 45″ width at Fabric Depot.

Solarize

Solarize, a new thermal product by Fairfield, is a uniquely thin metallic insulating fabric. Less noisy and crinkly than other offerings, Solarize still creates a strong thermal barrier that keeps things hot or cold. And it works with the shiny side in or out – you choose. Keep the shiny side exposed to help conduct heat or reflect light. 

It is a sew-in product, made of 50% polyester + 50% aluminum, and the standard width is 22”. You can purchase it as yardage or get it in a “grab-and-go” pre-cut package of 22” x ¾ yd.

Use Solarize inside pillows, fabric scarves, mittens, jackets, hats, and blankets for added warmth. Add it to casserole carriers, potholders, and trivets.  Cool things down by Solarizing inside can cozies, thermal freezer bags, or ice pack wraps. 

You can purchase Solarize directly from Fairfield or find it Walmart and other retailers. You can also buy full bolts from Amazon.

Thermal Fabric

Iron Quick

Iron Quick is a specialty fabric made of 100% aluminum with 100% cotton backing. It’s designed to protect from heat (up to 399˚), but does not have any insulating properties so it’s long been the go-to choice for things like ironing board covers. 

When you need insulating as well as heat protection, like in your oven mitts, Iron Quick also comes as a quilted material. This is simply the regular Iron Quick fabric with a 100% cotton backing, plus polyester batting and a polyester/cotton backing. This doesn’t afford a huge amount of insulation, but you could use more than one layer or add a layer of regular or thermal batting

Both varieties come in the same 45″ width. When sewing, you should use a size 80/12 needle

Neither Iron Quick products should ever be used in the microwave.

Both can be machine washed but should then be air dried – not tossed in the dryer. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe clean.

Nancy’s Notions carries both types of Iron Quick products by the yard.

Therma Flec

Therma Flec is a lightweight, heat resistant cloth similar to the Iron Quick but made from 80% cotton/20% polyester. It is scorch-proof to 360˚, but like the Iron Quick cloth, does not provide insulation. However, also like the Iron Quick, you can find Therma Flec in a quilted version for items such as hot pads, oven mitts or ironing board pads. 

Both the flat cloth and the quilted option are available in two colors: silver and light gold, all in a 43-44″ width. Don’t put this product in the microwave.

We found Therma Flec, in both colors, several places online, including Fabric.com and OnlineFabricStore.

Thermal Interfacing

Thinsulate

Back in the 1980s, the 3M Company introduced an amazing new insulating material called Thinsulate. Ounce for ounce it had one and a half times the warmth of down and twice the warmth of other high-loft insulation materials. It meant you could get sleek ski gloves that were just as warm as giant, puffy mittens.

A quarter century later, Thinsulate is still amazing. Made from microfibers that are only a tenth the size of of other synthetic insulation, it’s much more effective at reflecting back heat. And Thinsulate absorbs less than 1% of its weight in water, allowing it to retain its insulating ability even in damp conditions. You can use it in any kind of project where you want to keep warm but don’t want a lot of bulk, such as jackets and blankets.

You can get varying densities of Thinsulate, depending on the weight and R-value (insulating property) you want, from 1.6 up to 2.9.

Thinsulate is machine washable and dry cleanable once you have sewn it inside your project. It is a bit tough to find as yardage, but we did locate Thinsulate online at Vogue Fabric Store and The Rain Shed. It’s available by the yard, 60″ wide.

Thermolam

 

Pellon makes a 100% polyester interfacing called Thermolam, which is a needle-punched fleece with a protective scrim that can provide some warmth. It’s available by the yard at a 45″ width as both a sew-in or a fusible and is machine washable. It’s considered a heavy-weight in the general world of interfacing, however, it doesn’t have any loft, so it isn’t a choice for projects that call for high-level insulating and/or padded properties.

There’s no microwave warning for this fabric, but then again, we couldn’t find anything that said it was okay to use either. Maybe you should just forget the microwave, huh?

Fabric Depot offers a good price on Thermolam by the yard (both sew-in and fusible). 

Wrap-N-Zap

Wrap-N-Zap by Pellon is the only thermal product mentioned on this page that we can safely declare to be microwave safe. It’s got Zap in its name and it says “Microwave Friendly!” right on the package.

Made from 100% cotton batting, without glues or other chemicals that could leach into foods, Wrap-N-Zap is designed for projects like insulated baked potato bags and casserole warmers – situations where you heat up the food inside the cover and leave the cover on to keep food warm.

You can machine wash Wrap-N-Zap after you’ve sewn it into a project, but you should only use cotton fabrics, threads, and trims to insure it retains its full microwave-safe designation. 

We found it in a 45″ x 1 yard package at Joann Fabric and Nancy’s Notions.

Thermal fabrics are a “hot” trend

When we first researched this topic several years ago, we could only find about four kinds of thermal fabric or batting that was sewable and relatively easy to locate as yardage. Now we’re finding a lot more options. And we didn’t even include all the new energy-saving materials you can sew into things like super thermal window shades. It’s nice to see the selection growing. 

Be adventurous and try some projects that are made to keep hot things hot, and cold things cold. Below are a few Sew4Home projects to get you started:

Casserole Carrier

Insulated Baby Bottle Carrier

Lunch Bag

Picnic Tote

Hot Pads

Oven Mitts

Two-Handed Potholder

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Mary daugherty
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Mary daugherty

Would Insul-Bright used in facial masks be at all effective during the corona virus pandemic?

Liz Johnson
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Liz Johnson

@Mary – We haven’t seen any information regarding the filtration level for thermal batting. As a batting it is not particularly “breathable” but we have sent a message to the manufacturer to see if they have any input. If we hear back, we will post about it within our main article on DIY Face Mask Patterns + Resources: https://sew4home.com/diy-face-mask-patterns-resources/

Tammi johnson
Guest
Tammi johnson

I made a couple mask last night put the thermal towards the front with cotton towards the back. Flannel on back side with cotton on front. Is very breathable and lightweight.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson

@Tammi – Thank you. We never did hear back from the manufacturer. I’m going to copy your comment onto our Face Mask Resource article. Thanks for your test!

Julie Moore
Guest
Julie Moore

Hi. I am looking for very lightweight thermal fabric to make a sleeping bag liner. I was looking at Solarize, but I can’t find any info on the R value or the weight of the fabric. I would need to make a sack approx. 60″x30″,weigh under a couple pounds and be very compact for backpacking. If anyone has a suggestion it would be very appreciated!

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson

@Julie – this use isn’t our specialty so I can’t give you a 100% response, but I can recommend a local company we often turn to that specializes in outdoor fabric and hardware: The Rain Shed. The do carry thermal fleece and knits, and I’m sure would to happy to chap about the best options for your challenge. https://www.therainshed.com/

susanjodt
Guest
susanjodt

I’m trying to find an

I’m trying to find an insulation to make a cat bed that will warm-up when the cat is sitting or sleeping on the bed.  Do you have any suggestions?

Sue.B.Sews
Guest
Sue.B.Sews

I’m doing the same thing,

I’m doing the same thing, wanting to make self-warming cat beds. I’ve purchased them from Chewy. I want to start sewing them to donate. 

Solorize might be the answer because it is washable and dryable. I may research it more. 

Kathy Costin
Guest
Kathy Costin

I just found your site and I

I just found your site and I’m fascinated by the wealth of information.  I want to make insulated placemats to keep plates warm at a dinner party.  I envision warming the placemats and putting the plates on top just before serving.  I was thinking of using Wrap-N-Zap because it is microwaveable.  Is this the best choice?  

lsutigerfan0115
Guest
lsutigerfan0115

Thank you for the article! If

Thank you for the article! If I wanted soemthing to wrap around hot food in a covered dish and keep it as hot as possible – losing as little heat as possible, would batting or fabric be better for that? Would something like Insulate work well for that purpose? Thanks!

Valle elements
Guest
Valle elements

Thank you for this article!

Thank you for this article!  I’m building a bnb in Mexico’s wine country and want some of the walls of the free standing rooms to roll up so the guests can really interact with the elements.  An insulated material would be better than traditional canvas for climate control i.e. running the AC/heater.  Do you have a material suggestion for this application?  

Thank you,

David

anne.adams
Guest
anne.adams

@ Valle elements: Take a look

@ Valle elements: Take a look at Warm Window® from The Warm Company. We have not tried this specific product ourselves, but use many of The Warm Company quality products with great success! This is what they say:

“Warm Window insulated shades system will help keep in up to 80% of heat normally lost through windows in winter, and blocks up to 79% of the unwanted solar heat gain through windows in the summer…”

https://warmcompany.com/products/warmwindow-14/products/warmwindow

Bettina Tinker
Guest
Bettina Tinker

I sleep hot and would like to

I sleep hot and would like to keep my comfy/too warm mattress. Could any of these fabrics be a “cool barrier” so I can enjoy good sleep?

anne.adams
Guest
anne.adams

@Bettina Tinker: None of

@Bettina Tinker: None of these products are really right for your purpose — they would likely be noisy, too small or are designed to retain heat. There are products out there that can help you sleep cooler — cooling mattress pads, pillows and sheets, cool gel mats and even mattresses designed to stabilize mattress temperature. A couple of simple basics are to stick to 100% cotton sheets and bed coverings and avoid memory foam. Do a google search for bed cooling products and you’ll find many from which to choose.

Ade
Guest
Ade

Where can I buy online

Where can I buy online Insulated Bright

Thanks

Johnb207
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Johnb207

Hi! Someone in my Myspace

Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Great blog and terrific design and style.

Patricia Lynn
Guest
Patricia Lynn

Seeking help for overheated

Seeking help for overheated memory foam. My mattress with a memory foam top (i.e., “plush Euro-foam”) makes my backside overheat, and the heat wakes me up every night. I wondered if I could put a layer of insulating fabric under (or over) the mattress cover to block the heat radiating from the memory foam. Which fabric would work best? It cannot be a noisy fabric, since crinkling sounds would wake me up. Also, I don’t want a carcinegetic fabric, for obvious health reason. (Happily, I know how to sew well.)

Duraye
Guest
Duraye

Looking for a good choice to

Looking for a good choice to make an insulated/thermal blanket for pets.  

Rhonda W
Guest
Rhonda W

Would like to make a

Would like to make a fireplace blanket to keep out the cold and wind in the winter when we are not using the fireplace.  Would you have a recommendation for insulating and reflecting the cold?

Melanie Lewert
Guest
Melanie Lewert

I have summer/winter blanket

I have summer/winter blanket that I bought years ago.  One side keeps you warm, where the other keeps you cool.   I’m working on a two season quilt with those same characteristics.   From your article, I’m guessing Solarize might be the best solution.  Do you concur, or do you have a better suggestion? 

Craig P.
Guest
Craig P.

I am looking to use a

I am looking to use a stretchy fabric like a viscose or a poly/spandex, but I also want to thermoline the fabric that I am working with. Is there something that I can use that has a slight give and if not maybe a technique that could help?

wisdom
Guest
wisdom

i am looking for a material

i am looking for a material that can keep food warm

Karen St. Pierre
Guest
Karen St. Pierre

Could I make a bag put pie

Could I make a bag put pie weights in it and bake in oven  so lift out easy 

Karen St. Pierre
Guest
Karen St. Pierre

Thermaflec    

Thermaflec    

PS
Guest
PS

Can you please share if it

Can you please share if it can be used for storing food items?

M Chippewa
Guest
M Chippewa

Which is best for a diy non

Which is best for a diy non electric  blanket  ? Need to keep an elderly lady warm this winter 

Dudztx
Guest
Dudztx

Are these materials microwave

Are these materials microwave safe? 

Jerome
Guest
Jerome

Which material would best be

Which material would best be suited for sewing into a tent to keep the heat off in the mornings and summer but feels nice and warm at nights when it gets cold and not flammable?

Barb01
Guest
Barb01

I am looking for a fabric to

I am looking for a fabric to add to  the painters canvas drop clothes that I am using as drapes… I need a fabric I can sew on that will insulate …keeping warm in and the winter and hot out in the summer. The drop clothes are are large rings so they can be opened and closed.

Thanks

Sara44
Guest
Sara44

I am converting a cargo van

I am converting a cargo van into a camper and wanted to know which fabric you would suggest for insulative curtains that go between the front and rear? Also, would it be okay to sew a more decorative fabric over the insulative one?

stedfast93
Guest
stedfast93

Hi. I was just wondering the

Hi. I was just wondering the same in regard to curtains.  I’ll be making new ones for the RV we just bought. Did you make a decision yet? I’m looking at the one by Pellon, it’s like fleece but reflective. I don’t thunk it makes a crinkle sound.  Not 100% sure. I figured I would sandwich it between a backing and the curtain itself. Would love to hear what you came up with. My email is stedfast93@gmail.com. thanks!

Jay
Guest
Jay

I’ve been doing a bit of I’ve been doing a bit of research into this and thought I’d lend my basic knowledge of physics to help people with determining the best product for their application. These problems are modeled as two zones at different temperature / energy levels separated by an insulating surface. The three methods by which heat is transferred are kinetic energy, radiation, and convection. The kinetic energy will typically be hot and cold air. The insulating material’s R value determines how much energy is transferred. Radiation energy is emitted by warm bodies and the sun. The radiation… Read more »

CharlotteOttilo
Guest
CharlotteOttilo

Hi Jay, just wondering if you

Hi Jay, just wondering if you can answer this question. I went to Joann yesterday. I asked for the Pellan product that I could use for making an insulated bag for baby bottles. She sold me Thermalam. In researching(should have done that before I left), I’m not sure if this is the right product. What do you think?  Thanks! 

 AM CHINONSO DARLINGTON
Guest
AM CHINONSO DARLINGTON

GOOD MORNING. I WOULD LIKE TO

GOOD MORNING. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THIS FABRIC CAN BE USED FOR BED SPREAD BECAUSE I WOULD LIKE TO GET THE ONE FOR HOT AND COLD TOO.SECONDLY,HOW CAN I CONTACT YOUR COMPANY IF I WANT TO PLACE AN ORDER.MY EMAIL. DONMFLEXY@YAHOO.COM. PHONE NUMBER +2348167549599.08167549599.

A Student wanting to know stuff for a science assignment
Guest
A Student wanting to know stuff for a science assignment

Which one of these would be

Which one of these would be the best in a cold climate? Which will keep a person the warmest.

A Student wanting to know stuff for a science assignment
Guest
A Student wanting to know stuff for a science assignment

Plz reply ASAP

Plz reply ASAP

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