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 non-woven 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.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.

Solarize

Solarize, a 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.

We found it a bit hard to source online. Retail outlets may be able to help you order it. Nancy’s Notions does carry the non-quilted Iron Quick products by the bolt.

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 silver to be more readily available, finishing it at Amazon and Vogue Fabrics.

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.com offers a good selection on Thermolam (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 at Fabric.com as a 45″ x 1 yard package and at 22″ wide on a 10 yard bolt.

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

And, of course, all kinds of hot pads and oven mitts.

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Robbe Vancraeynest
Robbe Vancraeynest
1 month ago

Hi,
my name is Robbe and i’m a design student in Belgium. I am currently in the progress of designing a foldable sweatlodge. Before I can realize that I need the right fabric to keep the heat of the hot stones inside the sweatlodge and the cold from outside.
Could je help me with making the right choice?
I think one of the fabrics above will do the right job.

Greetings,
Robbe Vancraeynest

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
1 month ago

Hi Robbe – That sounds like quite an ambitious project! Unfortunately, your request is a very project-specific one with a lot of variables; we really don’t have any experience working with the extreme temperatures you’re describing. Our experience is with more traditional home projects, like hot pads or bottle sleeves. So sorry, but we simply do not have the expertise to be of help to you.

Paul Jackson
Paul Jackson
24 days ago

Hi Robbe,
A standard hardware store tarp will work for this. You can see temporary sweat lodges constructed on Seasons 2 and 3 of the American show “Alone”. Best of luck!

S A GOULD
S A GOULD
2 months ago

Ever since getting a memory foam bed, I feel like I am being cooked alive. (Like the adjustable bed.) Haven’t been able to find anything to block the heat it retains from my body. After about an hour and I half I wake up and find I am sweating. Have tried canvas, a reflective heat blanket, cotton, bamboo coverings, even a mattress protector made with Outlast® (like NASA uses), none make much difference at all. Had a Tulo mattress, which was hot, but after about an hour on it, any slight adjustment movement would also aggravate back problems, too. To… Read more »

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  S A GOULD

Hi there – My goodness; it does sound like you’ve tried everything. I wish I had a solution/idea for you, but I’m sorry to say this issue is out of our area of expertise.

Janice Sauter
Janice Sauter
4 months ago

I have a large amount of 3M Thinsulate and am wondering if this batting could be used for making pot holders.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
4 months ago
Reply to  Janice Sauter

Hi Janice – We haven’t worked with the Thinsulate for a hot pad before so can’t give you a 100% guarantee one way or the other. It certainly would help insulate, but it doesn’t have the reflective metallic layer of the others, so wouldn’t be our first choice for a hot pad. However, if you used more than one layer – maybe 2-3 – and adjusted any binding of the pad accordingly, it would likely be okay for standard use … ie. maybe not pizza right out of a 500˚ oven :-), but otherwise, likely to provide adequate protection.

Cathy Featherstone
Cathy Featherstone
5 months ago

I know that you probably don’t have experience in this area…but I would so appreciate your counsel! I am interested in making a food safe liner for the back wall of our RV pantry to help reduce the heat in that cabinet…which of these products would you suggest?!? Thank You!! Thank You for any counsel that you can provide! Grace & Peace!

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
5 months ago

Hi Cathy – Yeah… that isn’t really anything we’ve had experience with. In general, I would think if you sandwich the thermal material between layers of 100% cotton, you should end up with a “food safe” liner. I’m unaware of any fumes that these materials give off, but I guess that wouldn’t be out of the question. That would probably be a question to send directly to the manufacturer of the product. But is layering is an option, any of the products below could help give you a bit of a thermal barrier. You might also want to check the… Read more »

Brenda Weidman
Brenda Weidman
5 months ago

I’m trying to find to use on the back of my curtains to keep the cold out in the winter the heat out in the summer which one would you suggest?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
5 months ago
Reply to  Brenda Weidman

Hi Brenda – These products aren’t really meant for big jobs like curtains. However, The Warm Company, the manufacturer of several of these options does have a window solution that we recommend. Here’s a link to their site: https://warmcompany.com/?portfolio=warm-window%e2%93%87

Jake Skillman
Jake Skillman
6 months ago

I tried to read all the comments to see of it was covered but couldn’t find my answer. Do you know which product when I use for a lunch tote? I like this design I saw on YouTube, but it only says “thermal fabric”. https://youtu.be/xM7dFMwNTAI
I’ m new to sewing. I’m a 1 1/2 months old sewer. 🙂 You’re info is awesome!

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
6 months ago
Reply to  Jake Skillman

@Jake – We’ve done a number of lunch totes and have used the Insul-Bright with success. Have fun – we hope you’ll come back for more info and projects.

TulaRue
TulaRue
6 months ago

I want to wrap the exhaust hose for a portable ac. The hose gets warm and counteracts the cool air from the ac. I have cats in the room so need something they won’t be enticed to scratch on.

Which product would you advise me to purchase?

Thanks.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
6 months ago
Reply to  TulaRue

@TulaRue – That’s a very specific use for which we don’t really have any experience. We’re always reluctant to weigh in on situations with appliances involved – we wouldn’t want to suggest anything that could damage your AC unit or possibly cause a fire. That said, the Insul-Shine above is designed for duct work and so could possibly work in this situation, but it is not necessarily kitty scratch proof. You might have better luck reaching out to a home improvement expert for a more knowledgable answer.

Christine
Christine
7 months ago

I work with a wheelchair bound person who loves to go outside. He has difficulty regulating his body temperature, and he usually uses blankets to bundle up. I think we could improve the insulation properties by using better materials than the fleece he currently uses. I’m thinking to make a blanket, I would likely use Thinsulate for the “batting.” Would you agree, or would you recommend one of the other materials in your article? Do you have any suggestions for a windproof exterior fabric? I’d like to make him an upgraded blanket for his birthday this year.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  Christine

@Christine – We would agree that the Thinsulate would be a good option for a blanket. Some of the more traditional thermal battings can be kind of “crinkly” – probably not the sound you want with a blanket. Regarding wind, the tighter the weave the better. I don’t think ripstop nylon (like what you’d find on a windbreaker) would be comfortable in a blanket. A quality fleece — perhaps a double-side fleece would be a good option, and traditional wool is always a good option – if backed with fleece, it shouldn’t be scratchy.

Jennifer Van Den Hoogen
Jennifer Van Den Hoogen
7 months ago

The insulation in my shopping cart was torn apart by an overzealous cashier. I was wonder sort of thermal fabric would work as a replacement for the insulation. Ideally it would be less flimsy

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
7 months ago

@ Jennifer – I’m not 100% sure what you mean by your “shopping cart” – do you mean one of those personal rolling carts? If so, unless the thermal batting is covered in a layer of fabric, it is likely to always be a bit prone to tearing from “overzealous use.” So, I think I’d recommend either making a sandwich with a standard thermal batting (like an Insul-Bright) – cotton/batting/cotton similar to what you might do for a hot pad. Or, if you don’t want to go to that much work, look into one of the thermal fabrics, which are… Read more »

Mary daugherty
Mary daugherty
8 months ago

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

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  Mary daugherty

@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
Tammi johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  Liz 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
7 months ago
Reply to  Tammi 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
Julie Moore
8 months ago

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
8 months ago
Reply to  Julie Moore

@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
susanjodt
1 year ago

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
Sue.B.Sews
1 year ago
Reply to  susanjodt

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
Kathy Costin
1 year ago

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
lsutigerfan0115
2 years ago

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!

lsutigerfan0115
lsutigerfan0115
2 years ago

Thanks so much!! I am looking

Thanks so much!! I am looking to make an insulated blanket that can fold up small when not in use with enough insulation to keep, say, a pizza warm from the time it leaves the restaurant till it gets homes. Something with the insulation of a pizza box but can be folded up small. Does your casserole cover have that sort of warming potential?

Valle elements
Valle elements
2 years ago

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
anne.adams
2 years ago
Reply to  Valle elements

@ 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
Bettina Tinker
2 years ago

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
anne.adams
2 years ago
Reply to  Bettina Tinker

@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
Ade
2 years ago

Where can I buy online

Where can I buy online Insulated Bright

Thanks

Johnb207
Johnb207
2 years ago

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
Patricia Lynn
2 years ago

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
Duraye
3 years ago

Looking for a good choice to

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

Rhonda W
Rhonda W
3 years ago

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
Melanie Lewert
3 years ago

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.
Craig P.
3 years ago

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
wisdom
3 years ago

i am looking for a material

i am looking for a material that can keep food warm

Karen St. Pierre
Karen St. Pierre
3 years ago

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
Karen St. Pierre
3 years ago

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