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What Is Taffeta Silk?

Taffeta is a crisp, plain-woven fabric made most often from silk, but it can also be woven with polyester, nylon, acetate, or other synthetic fibers. This fabric typically has a lustrous, shiny appearance. Taffeta can vary in weight from light to medium and in levels of sheerness, depending on the type of fiber used and the tightness of the weave.

It was first produced in the Middle East in the twelfth century, and the word taffeta comes from the Persian word “taftah” meaning “crisp, woven.”

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How Is It Made?

It is made using the plain-weave technique, which has a single weft thread going over and under a single warp thread, creating a checkerboard pattern. What makes taffeta unique is that the threads are twisted as they are woven, which creates the stiffness and structure of the resulting fabric.

Taffeta was originally made from silk, but in the twentieth century, manufacturers began weaving taffeta out of semi-synthetic fibers like rayon and synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and acetate. Polyester taffeta is the most popular type of taffeta today, as it is inexpensive and mimics silk well.

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What Are the Characteristics of this Fabric?

It is considered a high-end fabric, with a beautiful, smooth surface and unique characteristics.

  • Crisp. This fabric is crisp and holds it shape well as a result of the tightly twisted yarns woven together in a plain weave fashion.
  • Sheen. This Fabric has a lustrous shine that is unique to the fabric and comes from the innate qualities of silk or polyester.
  • Smooth. This fabric also has a smooth surface, and piece-dyed taffeta in particular is especially soft.
  • Sound. This Fabric , especially yarn-dyed, makes a rustling sound called “scroop” (combination of scrape and woop) when it rubs together.

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What Are the Advantages of this Fabric?

  • Luxurious. This is a shimmery, crisp fabric has created many iconic looks. The shimmer comes from the type of fiber used to make taffeta, such as silk or rayon.
  • Pliable. This Fabric is a stiff fabric that can create a beautiful, structural silhouette. Taffeta also doesn’t lose its shape over time.
  • Doesn’t pill. This fabric doesn’t pill and maintains its smooth surface.

What Are the Disadvantages of this Fabric?

  • Hard to work with. The material is slippery and can be hard to maneuver with a sewing machine. To make taffeta a little bit easier to work with, try pre-washing the fabric to make it softer and use a sharp needle.
  • Expensive. Silk taffeta can be very expensive because of the cost of silk. However, polyester taffeta is much more affordable.
  • Stiff. Taffeta doesn’t have much stretch to so it’s not ideal for items where flexibility is needed.
  • Snags easily. Since the fibers are so fine and delicate, the fabric can snag easily and create pulls.

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