Peachskin is a marketing term used to describe a lightweight fabric – usually pure polyester – that has a very short, fuzzy nap on one side. Just like – you guessed it – a peach. Sometimes it’s called moleskin and there is a trademarked version of moleskin called Sensuede. The two aren’t exactly the same, but they’re similar enough to discuss simultaneously.
(Moleskin has nothing to do with the small burrowing mammal, aside from the fact that moles are known for their velvety coats.)
Peachskin and moleskin are available in solid colors and in a whole slew of printed patterns. It’s a popular fabric, so it’s easy to find. Generally is about $8 a yard.
The difference between pile and nap.
Usually the nap on peachskin is too short for you to have to worry about which way you’re cutting your pattern – unlike when you’re cutting corduroy or velvet. On moleskin the nap usually IS visible and should be a factor when laying out your pattern pieces for cutting. Take a good look at your fabric. Brush your hand up and down it and take a look at how or if it changes appearance. If you see a change, follow your pattern’s cutting guide for “cutting with nap”
In a real pinch, you can use it as a substitute for suede, but I think the pile isn’t quite robust enough for that. If you want to fake the appearance of suede without paying the huge price tag attached to Ultrasuede™, look for fabric sold with the label doe suede or passion suede which is an upholstery fabric (also discussed on the Ultrasuede page).
I like peachskin for long, full-cut garments like frock coats and Edwardian-style walking skirts. I’ve even used it for a suit, but that was a pretty funky project. The texture makes it more interesting than a smooth-finished fabric and it’s usually heavy enough to not need flat-lining to stop it from being all foofy and flyway.
Because it’s pure polyester, it doesn’t play well with hot irons and besides, you don’t want to risk crushing the nap. Nor will it take a crease well, so it’s not suitable for garments that require that – no peachskin kilts, I’m afraid. It’s machine washable with cool water and it’s happiest when left to drip dry. If you put it in the dryer, the fabric will form pills – maybe not right away, but it will eventually, so don’t risk it.
It can be unforgiving of needle holes, so you just need to use a little care when running it through your machine. A sharp or Microtex needle and cotton or polyester thread will do you fine.