As silk made it’s way along the silk road and down in to Persia, the Persian’s added their own twist. Literally. Taffeta is from the Persian word Taftah, meaning “twisted woven,” Taffeta was first woven in the Third Century in Persia (p. 68, Parker). Taffeta is a smooth, tightly woven, plain weave fabric, created by adding additional twist to the threads during weaving. This adds strength to the fabric so that this is a very stable weave, with minimal fraying. It still frays, but not as bad as organza or chiffon would. Typically, the weft threads are slightly heavier than the warp threads, which also adds the smooth luster and face of this heavy fabric (p. 604, Fairchild).
Taffeta is produced using two effects, already discussed in my post on True Damask, silk pieces can be created by piece dying or by thread dying. When Taffeta is piece dyed, it tends to have a slightly softer hand. If it is thread dyed for shot silk effects or for stripes, the fabric tends to be slightly stiffer and have a bit more body.
Regardless of piece dyed or thread dyed, silk taffeta is where scroop originated. Now, the dictionary definition provides that scroop is added artificially by treatment with dilute acid. This is true for nylon or rayon taffetas, but scroop is a natural property found in silk (Fairchild, p. 540), and especially noticeable in Taffeta. That rustling sound is what let Rhett Butler know that Mammy had accepted his gift of a red silk petticoat. It is that noticeable.
Because it is a plain weave silk, it will crease, pleat, and gather, beautifully. It drapes fantastically, and is relatively easy to work with, when compared to satin or lightweight organza. And if the scroop bugs you too much? Wash it in warm soapy water. Missing the scroop. Return it…with dilute acid! From Julie Parker “…soak it in a solution of 5% white vinegar and water. (p. 68). Huh….I guess dilute acid does add the scroop!