We already discussed Crepe, but how is Crepe de Chine difference from Crepe? Obviously there is a difference, words matter, and they each carry a unique name. Surprisingly, Julie Parker was not as helpful as usual, listing the major difference between the two as Crepe de Chine is French for Crepe from China. But good old Fairchild was supremely helpful (p. 157):
“A fine, lightweight, plain weave silk fabric woven with a silk warp and a crepe-twist silk filling alternating 2s-2z…more ends than picks per inch.”
Translation: There are more warp threads, which hold the tension on the loom, than there are weft threads. The warp threads are silk filament. The weft threads alternate two rows of s-twist filament and two rows of z-twist filament. This creates a very smooth smooth face, a firm hand, and a lustrous, slippery surface. Crepe de Chine has a smoother surface than Crepe.
Like all silks, Crepe de Chine is easily dye-able and when a solid color is fully reversible; however, given that it has a considerably smoother surface than Crepe, it can also be printed on with a fair amount of ease. In that case, watch for whichever side is brighter, that’s your primary.
As for when Crepe and Crepe de Chine made it’s appearance, the earliest references to date are 19th century France. This is not to say these weaves did not exist prior to this point in history. But so far, no references to them have been found, so use caution with historical sewing and crepe. But as usual, if you are a cosplayer, go for broke. Crepe de Chine is lovely, and elegant, lightweight, and sleek.