Moleskin is a woven twill fabric that is extremely soft on one side with a short raised surface. The name simply refers to the similarity between the softness of mole fur and the softness of this cotton fabric, which has a velvety nap that feels similar to suede. It is not made from the actual fur or hide of a mole.
This fabric is very densely woven, making it quite durable and easy to clean. Lighter blends of moleskin sometimes are used for work clothes, especially those made by British manufacturers. Lighter moleskin also has been used for military wear, such as for the West German Army uniforms from the 1960s to the 1990s. Heavier moleskin commonly is found lining winter coats for extra protection from the wind and cold. Several shoe designers use this fabric for the upper part of their shoes for added durability.
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Moleskin can be dry cleaned or washed on a gentle cycle and should be turned inside out before washing. Washing will help maintain the tightness of the weave of the fabric, which does not wrinkle or lose its shape from stretching. This fabric typically costs about $5 US Dollars (USD) to $9 USD per yard.
The relief and prevention of blisters is another use for moleskin. One side of a bandage for this purpose is the soft moleskin, and the other side is adhesive. A hole is cut in the bandage where the blister is, and then the adhesive side is placed over the blister, sticking to the skin surrounding it. This makes the blister and the fabric the same level and reduces the friction and pressure caused by whatever external object — usually a shoe — is rubbing against the skin to cause the blister.
A different type of moleskin is used in the movie industry. A piece of flesh-toned fabric called a moleskin is attached to adhesive, which is then adhered to genitalia to cover it for filming. This can give the appearance of nudity while giving the actor or actress some semblance of privacy.
There also are notebooks that take their name from moleskin fabric, which was used to cover traveling notebooks or journals because of its durability. The use of these notebooks became so widespread, especially among noted authors, that the small traveling notebooks themselves became known as moleskins. Famous people known to use moleskins include Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway.