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What is Sherpa material? {Real vs Faux Fabric Characteristics}

Explore the characteristics and unique traits of real and faux sherpa material - definition and what is sherpa made from.
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Do you know Tenzing Norgay? He was a Nepalese sherpa and one of the first two humans to reach the top of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Sherpas belong to an ethnic group in the Himalayan region in Nepal and are known experts in guiding Mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas. And the sherpa fabric, the ever-favorite for making cozy clothes and blankets, may as well be named after them. The Sherpas will know what a fabric like sherpa contribute to surviving in the cold weather.

There are two types of sherpa materials – the real one and the fake one. Sherpa material that is easily available today is a soft, fluffy, and lightweight fabric that resembles the wool-lined clothing traditionally worn by the Sherpa people of Nepal. It is a reversible material with a soft, fluffy, wooly side and a flat other side.

What is sherpa fabric made of?

Many people are confused whether sherpa material is wool or not. The real sherpa material is described in the book “The Sewing Bible” as the finished animal skin/hide with the wool (animal hair) left on it. Another word for this sherpa material is Shearling. The fabric has soft tanned leather on one side and wool on the other side.

But the most popular sherpa fabric nowadays is synthetic one imitating the animal skin with the wool left on. It is also called Faux sherpa.  It may have artificial leather or synthetic knit material on one side and soft and fluffy pile surface on the other side.

The fiber used to make the fluffy side of the fake sherpa fabric may be completely made of 100% cotton fleece, or it can be a 100% polyester or polyester/acrylic blend or real cashmere wool.

Real Sherpa material

The cashmere wool of the Himalayan or Tibetan sheep is incredibly soft and warm. It is light and very skin friendly, making it the perfect fabric for clothing and other items that need to be warm. It is usually blended with acrylic yarn to make the soft fleece of the sherpa. The resultant material is also wind resistant and almost waterproof making it a good choice for items like jackets and hats.

Faux Sherpa material

The synthetic fleece sherpa is also incredibly soft and fluffy, and lightweight. And this may be cheaper than real wool. And then some may be allergic to wool, so there is no choice there but to go for synthetic or cotton. The insulating property of this material is almost at par with real wool. So many people prefer this type of sherpa over any others.

One important reason to choose Sherpa fabric is that it is cruelty-free. I know many people who would prefer this material specifically for that reason. When you opt for garments made from synthetic Sherpa instead of animal-derived materials, you are actively choosing not to support practices that involve animal cruelty and the commercialization of animal farming for textile purposes

Cotton fleece is a good option if you do not want synthetic materials touching your skin. But it may not have the fluffiness of natural wool or synthetic fibers.

What is Sherpa fabric used to make?

Sherpa, the real and the fake ones are very versatile, and they are used to make everything from coats and jackets to scarves and blankets- all clothing and accessories needed for cold weather.

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You must have heard of the term sherpa lining when looking at jackets. Sherpa is a great option for those who are looking to line their warm, but lightweight coat or jacket. A Sherpa-lined denim jacket , also called Shearling jacket, is a very popular evergreen jacket option.

Sherpa is an excellent choice for winter blankets because it effectively keeps the cold at bay. This textile is both very soft and lightweight, making it perfect for blankets. They are usually made of microfiber acrylic Sherpa, which is quite inexpensive considering the beautifully sophisticated look and insulation it provides.

Characteristics of sherpa fabric – real and fake

Both real and fake sherpa look similar in that one side is smooth as the leather side, and the other side is hairy as the wool side.


Sherpa fabric gives comfortable warmth in the coolest climate. The real sherpa is famous for its exceptional capacity for creating thermal insulation and maintain this warmth as it would on an animal.

In addition, it shields you from the wind and the chilly weather.

A jacket lined with fake sherpa is an absolute must for winter. You can also buy yourself a wearable sherpa blanket with sherpa lining. I think you can find it as Sherpa Snuggly Blanket with Sleeves – they are the best in keeping warm and cozy inside your house. When you wrap yourself in a blanket that has a sherpa lining, it feels like you’re enveloping yourself in real fur, without it being the real one.

It is reversible

This fabric has two distinct sides, one of which is smooth and the other of which is hairy. You can use any of these sides on the right side of your project. Both can look good though the fluffy side is usually used outside.

The fake sherpa fabric can look absolutely spotless, though the real one may have some marks and spots because it is the real skin of an animal.

The fake sherpa is easy to maintain.

Sherpa is not high-maintenance – all that is required to keep a sherpa garment in good condition is to wipe away any stains, wash it in cold water, and clean it with a gentle detergent. You may want to wash it separately from other clothes, fluff dry, and hang it up.

It is somewhat lightweight.

Sherpa looks fluffy, so you might anticipate that it will be a substantially heavy fabric. But sherpa is a relatively lightweight material, even though it is quite thick and fluffy. This which makes it easy to carry around.

This material is a good choice for people who want a lightweight blanket to use in the winter.

It looks good

The addition of a on the reverse of baby blankets makes them cuter and more beautiful. This fluffy substance transforms a standard blanket into something incredibly cozy and warm.

Serpa, because of its pile maybe a little challenging in laundry to maintain its looks and fluffiness. When washing Sherpa material, it’s important to use gentle detergents and avoid high heat. Drying Sherpa fabric on a clothes line is recommended over machine drying to preserve its texture.

Related posts : Wool fabric and different types.; Fabric list

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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