What is taffeta? Taffeta is a type of fabric that is crisp and plain-woven. This fabric was originally made from silk fibers. Nonetheless, modern taffeta can be woven from other synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester. This fabric is considered a quality and high-end fabric which is also undoubtedly a red carpet staple. You will most likely see it on red carpets, celebrity weddings, and award shows. However, it is not common in everyday clothing since it is prone to damage. In this article, we will further explore what is taffeta, how it is made, its properties, and much more.
What is Taffeta? Its Origin and History
The word taffeta comes from “tafta” which is a Persian word meaning “glossy twist.” the fabric was first invented in Attabiya, Baghdad in the 12th century. It later made its way to Japan in the 1950s and soon after to Italy, France, India, and Pakistan.
Previously, Indian manufacturers used to produce the fabric in bulk using handlooms. This changed in the 1900s when mechanical power looms were introduced to produce raw silk taffeta. This involved weaving the fabric with high twist yarn, and the resulting texture was a tightly woven fabric.
Although the fabric was originally made from silk, manufacturers began to use semi-synthetic fibers to make taffeta in the 20th century. This luxurious fabric is well-known for its shine, stiffness, and crisp texture. It is available in wide varieties like lightweight or medium-weight, sheer or opaque, soft or stiff, or checks or prints.
How is Taffeta Made?
Wondering what is taffeta’s making process? Well, this fabric is made using a plain-weave technique where a single weft thread goes above and under a single warp thread. Consequently, this creates a criss-cross pattern that is similar to a checkerboard pattern.
Interestingly, the fabric is made by twisting the threads during the weaving process, resulting in its stiffness and structure. The taffeta fabric is part of the ribbed weave fabrics which are made by incorporating thick threads in one direction and finer yarns in the other direction. The other fabrics that belong to the ribbed weave family include broadcloth, dupioni silk, poplin, and much more.
What Is Taffeta and It’s Variations?
As aforementioned, there are different types of taffeta fabric to choose from. They include:
- Silk Taffeta – Originally, taffeta was made from silk. Some producers still use this fabric to make taffeta.
- Shot Silk Taffeta – This type of fabric uses different types of threads for the warp and weft. The resulting fabric showcases different colors when the fabric is viewed from different angles.
- Synthetic Taffeta – Nowadays, taffeta is usually made from synthetic fabric like polyester, nylon, or rayon.
- Yarn-Dyed Taffeta – This is a type of taffeta silk fabric that is dyed before weaving. The resulting textile is stiff and crisp, which is great for making evening dresses.
- Piece-Dyed Taffeta – This texture is the opposite of the yarn-dyed taffeta. It is first woven and then dyed later to give a softer texture, mostly used to make linings.
- Paper Taffeta – This form of fabric is made from polyester or silk fibers, and it has a thin and crisp texture.
- Antique Taffeta – This is a stiff fabric that has soft lumps at regular intervals.
- Moire Taffeta – This taffeta fabric is distinguished by its rippling watermark pattern. The pattern can be permanent or temporary.
- Faille Taffeta – This is a type of taffeta fabric that is usually woven using staple natural fibers.
What is Taffeta and Its Properties?
The taffeta fabric has several characteristics that distinguish it from other fabrics. They include:
- Lustrous Shine - This high-end fabric has a unique shine that makes it stand out more. The shine is mostly from the silk and polyester qualities.
- Smooth - The texture of the taffeta fabric is very smooth to the touch. This is particularly true for piece-dyed taffeta.
- Crisp - This is another distinguishing characteristic of the taffeta fabric. The crispness is achieved by weaving tightly twisted yarns in a plain weave manner.
What is Taffeta Used For?
Although taffeta is mostly seen in red carpets, it is also used in home décor and costumes. Here is how this fabric is used:
Due to its shine, crispness, and luxurious nature, it is not surprising that taffeta is used in making evening gowns. The fabric is reputed for its excellent quality which makes it ideal for making elegant attires. It is also widely used in making wedding gowns, prom dresses, and other party wear costumes.
A piece-dyed fabric is a type of silk taffeta that has a very soft and decorative texture. Hence, it is mostly used to make linings for jackets.
A stiff taffeta fabric can be used to make home décor items like curtains. A taffeta curtain can enhance the beauty of any room when drawn together, thanks to its ability to hold its shape. This makes it a great choice when you are looking for flowing window curtains.
Another use of the stiffer taffeta fabric is in making undergarments like corsets. Because of its stiffness, it can hold its shape in the waistline for that silhouette effect.
During World War II, the piece-dyed taffeta fabric was used to make parachutes.
Benefits of Taffeta Fabric
Are you wondering what is taffeta and why it has a great reputation in the clothing industry? Here are the reasons why:
- Luxurious - The taffeta fabric is shiny, crisp, and high-quality. Because of this, it is considered a luxurious fabric that can create beautiful and luxurious costumes.
- Pliable - Another reason why designers love to work with this fabric is that it is pliable and does not lose its shape over time. Its stiffness not only adds to its volume but also allows it to hold its shape over time.
- Pill-Resistant - Taffeta fabric can maintain its smooth surface without pilling.
Disadvantages of Taffeta Fabric
Now that you know the advantages, you are probably wondering what is taffeta’s downsides. Here are some of the problems you may encounter with this fabric:
- Creases Easily - This fabric can crease easily since it is fine and delicate. However, this issue can be minimized by adding a lining to it.
- Expensive - A taffeta fabric made from silk can be costly since silk is also on the higher end. Fortunately, this may not be the case with taffeta fabric made from synthetic materials like polyester.
- Not Flexible - Because of its stiff nature, taffeta lacks flexibility. This means that it cannot stretch as easily as other fabrics.
- Hard to Maneuver - Since the fabric is slippery, it can be tough to work with, especially when using a sewing machine. A good tip to prevent this is to pre-wash the fabric before sewing. Also, consider using a sharp needle.
What is Taffeta Sewing Tips?
Most people wonder what is taffeta like when sewn. As aforementioned, one of the disadvantages of the taffeta fabric is that it is difficult to work with since it is lightweight and slippery. Nonetheless, here are some sewing tips for this fabric:
- Preparation - Pre-wash the fabric before sewing to reduce stiffness and make it soft.
- Needles - Work with sharp needles, pins, and scissors for both machine and hand sewing. This helps prevent holes and snags. Sizes 60/10- 80/12 needles are highly recommended for sewing machines.
- Thread - Use polyester or all-purpose thread.
- Tension - Before sewing, make sure that you properly adjust the tension and stitch length.
- Foot - Use a wide straight roller foot or straight stitch foot.
- Cutting - When cutting a pattern, use the “With Nap” layout which is highly recommended if the taffeta is iridescent.
- Marking - Since the fabric is susceptible to staining, it is best not to use water-soluble pens, wax, or chalks to create markings. Instead, use fabric markers and mark lightly.
- Pressing - Also, be careful when ironing since the steam can stain the fabric. Before sewing, make sure that the fabric is pulled straight to prevent creasing.
- Interfacing - Use sew-in interfacing for better stability.
- Seam Finishes - Make sure that you complete the seams with a serger or zig0zag stitch to avoid unraveling.
What is Taffeta Care Guide and Instructions?
When it comes to cleaning, it is advisable to dry wash or hand clean the taffeta fabric in cold water. Dry cleaning is especially recommended for silk taffeta. Taffeta fabric that is made from man-made fibers can be hand washed at home.
Below are some tips for washing synthetic taffeta:
- Only use gentle detergent while washing.
- Use cold water since hot water can cause dye bleeding.
- Never twist or wring the fabric as this will damage its shape.
- Do not hang the taffeta in direct sunlight. Instead, dry it in a well-ventilated area.
- If you opt to press the fabric, keep the iron heat low. Do not use direct heat on the fabric.
What is Taffeta - In Conclusion
Taffeta is a versatile and lustrous fabric that has numerous advantages and uses. Although this fabric is not common like cotton, silk, velvet, or chiffon, there is no denying that it plays a major role in the fashion industry. Now that you have an idea of what is taffeta and its uses, it’s about time you add this wonderful fabric to your arsenal.