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silk

Fabric Name

Characteristics Satin weave fabric with a soft, lustrous face and a dull back. Like all satin weaves its prone to scuffs and snags. Sheer, limp, lightweight, loosely woven plain weave fabric. Fabric is very fluid; pre-treat with liquid stabilizer prior to cutting and sewing for easier handling. Very lustrous and lightweight tightly woven plain weave fabric. Sometimes referred to as Habotai. Prone to needle striking and seam slippage. Use a 60/8 Microtex needle if possible. Lightly textured fabric made by using crpe yarns in a plain weave. The pebbled surface of the fabric has a dull sheen. Crpe tends to stretch in the crosswise direction, and it wears well. Very prone to shrinkage; dry cleaning recommended. Satin weave fabric with a crpe back; either side can be used as the right side. Like all satins, the lustrous satin face is vulnerable to snags and abrasion. Crisp, tightly woven plain weave fabric with prominent slubs (irregular, thick areas in the yarn). Crosswise yarns are prone to fraying and raveling; seam slippage is also a problem. Dry clean to maintain crispness. Lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric similar to chiffon. Rougher texture, with a crpe surface and less luster than chiffon. Can be prone to snagging. Use a liquid stabilizer prior to cutting and sewing for easiest handling. Coarse, loosely plain-woven (or sometimes featuring a basket weave) fabric made with handspun yarns. Fabric has an uneven, handwoven look. Consider fusing to lightweight interfacing prior to cutting to stabilize and reduce fraying.
Rough textured, nubby fabric made from the waste silk found in the inner portion of the cocoon. Noil is generally plain woven and resembles cotton more than silk. It is prone to shrinkage and abrasion.

Suggested Use
Soft, drapey designs with ease such as blouses, lingerie, and evening wear.

Charmeuse

fabric guide
by Katrina Walker

Chiffon

Soft designs with considerable ease such a loose blouses, jackets, dresses, and scarves.

China Silk/Habotai

Use this handy guide for choosing the best silk fabric for your sewing projects.

Commonly used for scarves and linings; suitable for semi-fitted or loose designs that do not have seam stress.

Crpe/Crpe de Chine

Suitable for most styles except those requiring crisp pleats and tucks. Slacks, jackets, and skirts all work well. Fabric has some body so avoid overly loose styles.

Crpe-back Satin

Use for soft designs with some ease; can be semi-fitted. Good for blouses, lingerie, and evening wear. Consider using both sides of fabric for contrast. Styles that are semi-fitted or boxy/geometric work well. Avoid seam stress. Fabric does not drape well so avoid overly loose designs.

Douppioni

Georgette

Loose, flowing, untailored designs make the most of the drapey qualities of this fabric.

Matka

Structured styles that are tailored or fitted work best, as the fabric does not drape well. Chanel stitching to lining/underlining is recommended for this fabric.
Suitable for many styles of garments due to its ability to gently drape. Tailored designs work well whether fitted or loose. Support with a quality fusible interfacing if using a fitted design to avoid fabric sagging when worn.

Noil
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silk

Fabric Name

Characteristics A sheer, crisp fabric made from tightly twisted yarns. Despite its delicate appearance, organza is strong and stable and presses well (it can also be used as a press cloth to protect other fabrics). An incorrect term often used to refer to silk noil or other spun silks made from waste silk or wild cocoons. Raw silk technically refers to filament silk that has not been degummed of sericin (a substance naturally present on the cocoons of silk worms). A type of weave structure that uses long floats, creating a soft, lustrous surface. Satins made from silk include charmeuse, crpe-backed satin, and duchesse satin. Any filament fiber can be woven into satin (cotton satin is called sateen); check label to ensure that the satin is made from silk. A tightly plain-woven slubby, crisp, lustrous fabric similar to douppioni, but generally lighter in weight with finer slubs. Dry clean to maintain crispness. A smooth, tightly plain-woven fabric with a dull surface. Taffeta has a distinctive rustling sound, or scroop when it moves. Dry cleaning is recommended to maintain its original hand. A plain-woven silk made from the silk of wild Tussah silkworms (rather than the cultivated Bombyx mori). Tussah silk is generally uneven in texture with distinctive slubs (irregular thick areas in the yarn). Tussah is a good candidate for pre-fusing with stabilizer to reduce fraying, improve wear, and support seams. Dry cleaning is the safest way to maintain the appearance of the fabric. True silk velvet, made with 100% silk, is a rare and expensive fabric. Most silk velvet today is woven with a silk backing and rayon pile. This often results in the pile and back being slightly different in color, making the fabric especially suitable for surface designs such as devore or burnout.

Suggested Use Best for designs that are meant to stand away from the body or maintain a particular shape, such as blouses and jackets. Also excellent for use in interlinings and facings or anywhere a lightweight but firm stabilizer is needed. Same guidelines as for silk noil.

Organza

fabric guide
Raw Silk

Satin

Use depends on the amount of body and drape the particular satin has. Suitable for evening wear, blouses, lingerie, and bridal wear.

Shantung

Styles that are semi-fitted or boxy/geometric work well. Avoid seam stress. Fabric does not drape well so avoid overly loose designs. Traditionally used for petticoats because of its ability to stand away from the body and its distinctive sound, it is also good for close to semifitted styles such as evening and bridal wear. Tailored styles that are fitted or semi-fitted with simple shapes are best. Tussah does not ease or gather well.

Taffeta

Tussah

Velvet
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Simple designs with few details work best, as velvet should be pressed very carefully and as little as possible. Silk and silk/rayon velvets are soft and drapey, lending themselves to beautiful garments such as evening wear and accessories.

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