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What is Chiffon Fabric?

Chiffon Flower Girl DressOriginally chiffon was made only from silk in mid-19th century. It was especially in high demand in Europe and the U.S. among upper-class women during this time period. The word "chiffon" is a French word that translates as "rag" or "cloth." Even though the French translation implies something less than being luxurious, chiffon is seen as a fabric that highly desirable.

Brief History of Chiffon

When non-silk products (nylon and polyester) became available in the early and mid 20th century, chiffon began to be produced using nylon in 1938. Then in 1958, polyester was used to produce chiffon.

Today chiffon is mostly produced using polyester. Silk is still used to produce chiffon, but this variation is seen as being a more luxurious textile. As a result silk-chiffon is more expensive than other variations of chiffon.

Characteristic of Chiffon

Chiffon stand out from other fabrics because of the method used to produce it. Regardless of the yarn type (silk or polyester), the alternate S-and Z-twist is the weave method used to make chiffon. This method gives the fabric a slightly puckered and textured look that creates elasticity. Chiffon is a sheer fabric that is transparent.

Chiffon is known to be a delicate fabric. Because of this it often not produced by a machine, but by hand. This results in a slow and laborious process for manufactures. When machines are used to produce this particular fabric, the machines have to go at a relatively slow pace in order to avoid causing damage to the fabric.

In addition to silk and polyester as a base material for chiffon, chiffon can also be made from cotton and rayon.

Gentle hand washing is highly recommended for chiffon material because of its delicate nature.

What is Chiffon Used For?

The common usage for chiffon is in evening gowns, especially as an overlay. As an overly, chiffon gives gowns an elegant and floating appearance. It is also used in blouses, ribbons, lingerie, and scarves.

Flower Girl Dress Made From Chiffon