Softly Chiffon

Pink chiffon top layers this dress worn by Audrey Hepburn

Nothing is as softly elegant as chiffon.  Typically sheer, and very filmy and lightweight, Julie Parker in All About Silk says that Chiffon is French for rag. Which is hard to believe given that this is easily one of the most elegant fabrics available.  When I hear the word rag, I think of the dictionary definition, and chiffon is not worthless.  Typically used as a top layer in prom or wedding dresses, chiffon adds fabulous sway and drape to any gown. Now, on a technical level, chiffon is “A very lightweight sheer silk…made in a plain weave with fine, hard spun

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Let’s talk Broadcloth

Broadcloth...not satin

According to Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles, Broadcloth was “a fabric made on a wide loom, specifically one wider than 27 inches.”  Since the narrowest weave found commercially is typically 45 inches wide, it seems odd that 27 was once considered broad!  But, width was not the only consideration.  Specific to weaving on the broader loom, the fill or weft threads are heavier and have less twist, creating a heavier hand than the lighter habotai or china silks. In addition to the dictionary definition of broadcloth, Julie Parker provides that silk broadcloth is typically woven of spun silk, versus filament silk.  So

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Batiste de Soie

Going alphabetically, batiste de soie is the way to start with silk weaves.  The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles lists Batiste de Soie as “a sheer silk fabric, plain or figured, resembling silk mull (p. 48).” Batiste is itself a weaving technique, named after the 13th century linen weaver Jean Baptiste.  Batiste pulls directly from his name, with this particular fabric translating as “batiste of silk.”  Batiste was originally a very fine, diaphanous fabric, most commonly these days woven in cotton or poly/cotton blends. But it can be found in silk!  In All About Silk, author Julie Parker says “it

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What’s in a Weave?

Amethyst Glass Silk Satin

In a blog post earlier this year, I asked the question What’s that Fiber?  I provided a brief list of different fibers, then a slightly more thorough detailing of the three different weaving techniques most commonly used.  I’m going to write a (long) series of posts describing what specifically each weave is.  The three weaves are Plain, Twill, Satin.  But there is TREMENDOUS variety within those three categories.  So what’s in a weave? Just in a silk fiber, plain weaving is used to create Batiste de Soie, Broadcloth, Chiffon, China Silk, Cloque, Crepe, Crepe de Chine, Dupioni, Four Ply, Georgette,

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What’s that fiber?

Rose Scrolls Silk Twill

Let’s talk fiber. Fabric is composed of fibers, twisted in to threads, which are then woven in to fabric. So the fibers are Silk, cotton, wool, linen, acrylic, polyester, rayon, nylon…I’m sure there are others, but you get the drift. Everything else is weaving technique. So when you walk in to the fabric store and buy satin, you are usually buying polyester satin. Taffeta is usually polyester. Broadcloth is usually cotton. Twill is usually wool. Because these are the common weaves for these fibers in retail outlets, fiber is almost never specifically delineated on signage.  However, fiber content should always be

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