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Fabric Glossary

Alencon Lace

Sometimes called the “queen of lace," this French style (which dates back to the 16th century) has a distinct floral pattern woven into the fabric then outlined with corded detail. It's characterized by its 3-D effect, and frequently decorated with seed pearls and sequins.

 

Bengaline

A thick, ribbed taffeta. A shiny, heavy fabric perfect for tablecloths and bodices. Classic, Elegant Look and Texture.

 

Brocade

A Jacquard-woven fabric with raised designs; traditionally popular for fall and winter, now also worn in warmer weather.

 

Chantilly Lace

Named for its origin in Chantilly, France, this delicate and dainty lace features flowers and ribbons on a plain net background. It's the most fluttery and romantic of the group and popular for sleeves and overlay, since it has a sheerness that is also very soft. Produced on specialty looms, Chantilly lace is often made in pieces 3 meters long.

 

Charmeuse

A cousin to satin, charmeuse has the same sheen and drape as satin, but is lighter and even a bit softer. Its sheen is a bit more muted and its drape a bit more liquid.

 

Chiffon

Delicate, sheer, and transparent -- made from silk or polyester, with a soft finish; often layered because of its transparency, making it popular for overskirts, sheer sleeves, and wraps.

 

Crepe

A light, soft, and thin fabric with a crinkled surface.

 

Crepe Back Satin

This reversible fabric is like 2 fabrics in 1 - soft and shiny satin on one side and Textured crepe on the other. Perfect for bias cut dresses.

 

Crinoline

A very stiff net used to add volume to skirts. Often attached to the lining and not visible on the finished garment.

 

Damask

A figured woven fabric with a pattern visible on both sides, typically a stylized floral pattern.

 

Duchess Satin

Duchess satin is a gorgeous, high thread count, medium-bodied, low luster blended satin that sews easily and benefits from underlining to maintain shape. The extra weight of duchess satin, as compared to regular satin fabric, lends itself to beading and embroidery, while the synthetic component allows the fabric to be machine washed, and provides an extra level of durability.

 

Dupioni

A finish similar to shantung, but with thicker, coarser fibers, and a slight sheen.

 

English Net

A soft net with less body than tulle and illusion. Popular for sleeves, skirts, and veils.

 

Faille

A structured, ribbed finish like grosgrain ribbon; usually quite substantial.

 

Georgette

Quite similar to chiffon in drape and feel. It is only slightly heavier than chiffon and a bit less sheer.

 

Guipure Lace

With dense interwoven patterns, this lace can resemble embroidery or macramé. It's heavier than most lace and is usually limited to structured silhouettes, but its thick patterns make a dramatic statement.

 

Illusion

A fine, sheer net fabric, generally used on sleeves or necklines. Similar to Tulle.

 

Organza

Crisp and sheer like chiffon, with a stiffer texture similar in effect to tulle, but more flowing; popular for skirts, sleeves, backs, and overlays.

 

Peau de Soie

A soft satin-faced, low luster satin.

 

Point D'Esprit

To create this lightweight lace, small oval or square dots are woven in a scattered pattern into a netted fabric. Add sweet texture when you layer this fun French style—which has a similar feel to tulle—over a dress or incorporate it into a veil.

 

Polyester

An inexpensive man-made fiber that can be woven into just about anything, including duchess satin.

 

Poplin

Often made of cotton or polyester, poplin is a plain weave matte fabric that is perfect for table linens.

 

Rayon

A man-made fiber similar to silk, but more elastic and affordable.

 

Satin

A heavy, smooth fabric with a high sheen on one side; very common in bridal gowns.

 

Silk

A luxurious fiber that can be woven into Satin, Charmeuse, Dupioni, Organza, and Chiffon.

 

Shantung

Similar to a raw silk, shantung is characterized by its slubbed texture and can be made from polyester or silk.

 

Schiffli Lace

Another lightweight style, this machine-made lace has an allover delicate embroidered design. It looks great both as an overlay or as edging on a sleeve, hem or bodice of a gown.

 

Taffeta

Crisp and smooth, with a slight rib.

 

Tulle

Netting made of silk, nylon, or rayon; used primarily for skirts and veils.

 

Tulle Lace

Lace patterns embroidered on a tulle base. Very similar to Alencon in look, but the designs are created with embroidery.

 

Velvet

A soft, thick fabric with a felted face and plain underside.

 

Venice Lace

Also known as “Venetian point" or “gros point," this heavy needlepoint-type design uses floral sprays, foliage or geometric patterns and is often said to look like carved ivory.

 

Voile

Voile has the draping power of chiffon, but with a subtle sheen and a bit more weight.