Crepe fabric has been around a long time and was originally made from silk. Today’s crepe fabric is very versatile and can be used for all sorts of sewing projects, including various garments and even household items. If you’ve ever wondered, what is crepe fabric or what is crepe fabric used for, you’ve come to the right place because we’re here to answer those questions and more.
Crepe fabric undergoes a type of treatment involving weaving, which gives it a rippled and three-dimensional texture. It is a delicate fabric often used to make garments for special events, and there are many different types of crepe fabric, which is why you notice it in so many places.
What is Crepe Fabric and What is Crepe Fabric Used For?
One of the reasons why this fabric is so versatile is because there are numerous types of it available. At one time, especially in the Western world, crepe fabric was used for clothing worn by women in mourning, but that is no longer the case. Crepe fabric can be a little on the slippery side but has excellent texture and drape.
Different crepe fabric can have a different fiber content, which is why there are so many different types of this fabric available. Items made out of crepe are made from different processes, which results in the different types of crepe. The weave can be made from either synthetic or natural fibers, and crepe yarn is created via a process called hard twisting.
With hard twisting, the fibers are twisted so that the yarn is tighter than most other yarns. You get a light bouncy feel with alternative S and Z twists, which are called right-hand and left-hand twists. Crepe yarn is always made from this type of spinning process. Once the yarn is produced, it is usually treated and dyed before it’s turned into clothing and other items.
So, what is crepe fabric used for? Crepe fabric has numerous uses, which includes:
- High-fashion garments
- Decorative garments
- Flowing, airy clothing
- Evening wear
- All types of dresses
- Garment linings
- Household goods such as pillows and window treatments
In fact, almost any type of light clothing can be made from crepe fabric. Keep in mind that there are also two different types of crepe fabric – silk and wool. Wool crepe is used mostly for dresses, sweaters, and other heavy-duty garments. Synthetic crepe is durable but is very flammable, while natural crepe such as wool is much more resistant to fire.
In addition to all of this, crepe fabric is not used very often for everyday dresses. But if you visit a high-class event such as a wedding or a photo shoot, you’ll likely see lots of “after 5” dresses made out of this material. Its airiness and lightness also make for very comfortable articles of clothing, not to mention attractive ones.
What Makes Crepe Fabric So Unique?
Before we talk about the types of crepe fabric available, let’s go over some of the characteristics that make the fabric so unique. Crepe fabric has the following features for you to admire:
It is Breathable
Crepe fabric is breathable and offers great ventilation even if the temperature and humidity are a little higher than you’d like. The one type that seems to be the most breathable is organic crepe fabric, but all types are more breathable than many people realize.
It is Adaptable
By “adaptable,” we mean that crepe fabric is versatile and can be used for everything from casual clothing to formal wear, including evening gowns. In fact, if you want any type of garment to be super-comfortable, choosing crepe fabric is a smart idea.
It Absorbs Moisture
If you live in a warmer climate, just know that crepe fabric is very absorbent, so if you tend to sweat a lot, this won’t be a problem when you’re wearing a garment made out of crepe.
It is Three-Dimensional
Crepe fabric’s ability to create a three-dimensional shape is indeed very unique. This trait, however, is the reason why so many people use this type of fabric for all sorts of garments. Whether you use it to make an overcoat or a fancy dress, it will give the garment the three-dimensional look that you love.
Yet another thing to keep in mind once you answer the question, what is crepe fabric, is that it does have its downsides. For example, crepe fabric has a low resistance to heat. This is especially true for crepe fabrics made out of silk, and it is the reason why most crepe fabric is so flammable. This is a tidbit that it’s good to remember before you make your next garment with crepe.
What are the Different Types of Crepe Fabric?
So, we’ve answered the questions, what is crepe fabric and what is crepe fabric used for? Now, let’s talk about the different types of crepe fabric currently on the market. All of them are different depending on the types of fibers used and how the fabric has been constructed. Below are the main types of crepe for you to consider for your next project:
Called Canton crepe because it originated in the Canton province of China, this type of crepe looks a lot like crepe de chine. The only difference is that Canton crepe is a little heavier, thanks to the fact that the individual weaves are a little heavier.
Crepe charmeuse is made out of silk fabric and is woven using both crepe twist yarns and the satin weave method. This type of crepe has a flat back and is very smooth and satin-like. It also has a very distinct look, which is a direct result of the crepe yarns used in the making of the fabric.
Crepe de Chine
Normally made from silk that doesn’t have the same finish you see on textured crepe, crepe de chine tends to look “pebbled” and matte, and it has a very smooth feel. This is why so many luxurious garments, elegant evening gowns, and more are made out of this type of crepe. It uses very twisted fibers to get its overall look, but it will become weak if it’s exposed to either sweat or the direct sun.
Crepe Georgette has a very thin texture and is made out of a material that resembles silk or even matte silk fabric. It does a good job of draping and tends to be elastic, and you’ll often find that people call it “chiffon.” It is very fluid, which is why it drapes so well, and it is used in the making of blouses, evening gowns, skirts, and even dresses. When you want both luxury and comfort, this type of crepe material is a great suggestion.
Also called crepe marocain, Moroccan crape has a texture that is woven and heavy. It has a ribbed design and is very often made from materials such as wool, rayon, or silk. One reason for its ribbed and wavy look is the twisted yarns found within its weft. Moroccan crepe fabric is a great material to choose when you’re making dresses or a formal business suit.
When they manufacture plisse crepe, heavy rollers are used that imprint some type of design right into the fabric. This can also be accomplished through a chemical treatment. Its unique look includes either pebbled or striped patterns that are made out of wax then submerged in a solution that is alkaline. Next, the wax gets removed and the stripes are found on the uncovered parts of the material that shrunk. This is also a very strong type of crepe that doesn’t need ironing.
Crepe made out of either polyester or synthetic fibers is called polyester crepe, and it is always very thin and lightweight. Because it provides such an attractive drape, lots of blouses, dresses, and skirts are made out of polyester crepe. If you want to create a garment that has a stretch to it, you can incorporate elastane into the pattern.
Also called crepon, this type of crepe fabric is the result of the mixing of silk and cotton fibers. The manufacturer treats the yarn as it is being weaved, which gives it its very unique look. If you want to see something made out of wool crepe, look at some of the many dresses and lingerie items that use this type of crepe in the making of the garments.
13 Pro Tips To Sew with Crepe Fabric
When sewing with crepe fabric, here are a few things that can make the task a little easier on you:
- If you’ve never sewn with crepe before, choose a polyester crepe because this type is the easiest type to sew.
- Always pre-wash the fabric before you get started.
- Work only with single layers so that slipping doesn’t occur.
- When lining up your fabric, watch out for the grainline because you don’t want the fabric to shift and move around as you’re cutting.
- Once the pieces are cut out, line them up against the pattern pieces to make sure no slipping has occurred.
- To stabilize the fabric before you cut, try to use a fabric stabilizer or apply tissue paper.
- Adjust the tension in your sewing machine to a low setting in order to prevent any puckering.
- Increase the tension on your presser foot so the fabric stays more secure.
- Try using a walking foot so the fabric is fed through the machine more evenly.
- To finish your seams, try using a zigzag, overcast, overlock, or French stitch.
- To avoid snags, try using a new fine-point.
- If you use a rolled or blind hem, the fabric has a much cleaner and neater look.
- When you iron the fabric, always use a press cloth and iron on the wrong side of the fabric.
Even more importantly, make sure you read all of the instructions on the pattern so you don’t miss anything important. Also, keep in mind that since there are so many types of crepe material, the instructions for sewing and caring for the fabric may vary between one type and another. The more you work with crepe fabric, the more likely you’ll come up with a few tips of your own to make your experience working with this fabric a little easier on you.
How to Care for Your Crepe Fabric
When determining, what is crepe fabric, you’ll learn along the way that caring for this type of fabric properly is just as important as knowing what it is and what it is used to make. The first thing you have to remember is to follow the care instructions the manufacturer provides to the letter. In many ways, it is better to have the garment dry-cleaned rather than placing it in a washing machine. Why? Because in a washing machine, it is more likely that your garment will shrink quite a bit.
And if the tags on the fabric indicate it, you might also be able to hand-wash your crepe garments. Once you’ve learned, what is crepe fabric used for, it becomes a little easier to determine the best way to clean the garments you just created. The best way to hand-wash a crepe garment is to fill a basin with one gallon of water and just a teaspoon of some type of delicate laundry detergent. Place the garment in the water-detergent mixture and swirl it around lightly.
When it’s clean, take it out and wring it out gently, then rinse it with warm water and wring it again so that the excess water is removed. Afterwards, always let crepe fabric air dry. And if you want to iron a crepe fabric garment, use a warm iron and not a hot one and iron the underside only. For silk crepe garments, use a cool iron and make sure you put a thin towel between the fabric and the iron.
All of this being said, you want to remember that there are many different types of crepe fabric and because of this, the instructions on the fabric you’re using may be different than the steps mentioned above. Because of this, always make sure you follow the instructions on the fabric if they are different from these tips.