Correctly known as crêpe, the crepe fabric is often associated with luxurious garments and accessories. Its beginnings are unknown, but the concept is easy to implement and currently used all across the world. For example, crepe is widely used in the Indian and Orthodox Greek cultures these days, but it is also common in other cultures with fashion purposes. Most commonly, crepe fabrics are associated with funerals and mourning activities.
There are more types out there. While designs and styles vary, the fabric made the style gain notoriety due to its soft and lightweight profile. You can find it in evening wear, suits and even home decorations and accessories. Here is everything you need to know about the material, its uses and most common types on the market.
What is crepe fabric?
Crepe was originally made of silk and wool – you will often find accessories made of wool crepe, wool fabric or silk crepe. However, things have evolved over the past decades. Crepes can now be made from any material out there – including synthetic fibers like polyester. Given these materials, the crepe is obviously very soft when touched. It is normally lightweight, but heavier alternatives are also available on the market.
Crepes can be used for suits, dresses, pants, blouses and so on. When it comes to home décor, the fabric crepe is excellent for window treatments, pillows and curtains. Its wrinkled appearance adds to its dramatic effect.
While initially used with mourning purposes, the term today refers to all kinds of textured fabrics. You might as well say that crepe has managed to lose its classic meaning – nothing wrong with that though. Most fibers go through the same upgrade overtime.
How crepe fabrics are made and used
The crepe fabric goes through a few different procedures before reaching its final form. There are a few distinctive properties that make it unique and the weave is by far the most common one. The crepe can be based on synthetic or natural materials. While initially made to be natural, designers have managed to find ways to achieve the same crepe design from synthetic materials.
Crepe twisted yarns or wet yarns are most commonly based on hand twisting. Simply put, fibers are twisted in a very tight manner. Whether there are S or Z twists, the final result will be bouncy and attractive. The result is efficient regardless of the material used for the crepe.
Once the production is over, the crepe fabric goes through a few other procedures. It can be dyed and treated with various substances before turned into clothing or accessories. The work is split between more processes or manufacturing facilities.
Each variation of crepe is delicate, be it a wrinkly or a flat crepe. It comes with specific care instructions, while the price goes up or down based on the material and weight. With these ideas in mind, the fabric is great for lightweight stuff – evening dresses, light skirts or scarves. Wool is generally better than silk in terms of durability, so it can be used in heavier garments too – such as sweaters.
On the same note, synthetic crepe is not to be overlooked either. Many designers rely on polyester fibers or other similar textiles for variety and lower prices. Results are not always the best – synthetic materials are flammable and not as comfortable.
It is important to know that crepe garments like dresses are usually associated with fancy or luxurious events. A crepe dress will fall beautifully on the body, providing a sensual appearance. You are less likely to find the fabric in an everyday piece of clothing.
Crepe de chine and other types of crepe fabrics
Crepe de chine is very lightweight and usually based on silk – one of the most popular types of crepe. Compared to other fabrics, silk is soft and smooth – forget about crinkle issues. It also has a matte finish and surface, while its appearance is flawless. Polyester crepe is similar in appearance, but also lower in the price – a good alternative. What other types can you find out there?
The aerophane crepe gained notoriety during the 1800s. The texture is what makes it unique and easy to recognize. It looks like a gauze. However, the production is closed to none these days. You are less likely to find it in commerce, unless you are after vintage clothing. Many modern types of crepes mimic the appearance of this textile though.
The canton crepe has a self explanatory name. If you know a bit about the Chinese culture, you can easily associate the name with the country – one of the top producers of crepe fabrics anyway. This style is common in Asian style clothing and accessories. It is heavier than aerophane crepe, mostly because of the fill yarns.
Crepe de sante
Crepe de sante is not for everyone. This type of fabric is relatively rough. It does not go through all the processes associated with other crepe fabrics. For instance, it is not dyed. The look is suitable for certain styles or home decorations. On the same note, since it requires less effort to make, pricing is also below the market.
Crepon is not the most popular type of crepe these days. However, you can still find it out there and chances are it will go back to trends sooner or later. It gained notoriety during the 1800s. It is relatively heavy when compared to other types.
Plisse is a type of crepe that goes through certain treatments in order to achieve its look. Compared to other styles, it has a puckered appearance due to its unusual texture. Such garments are usually used in evening wear and look a bit formal.
Baute satin is all about small details. It is common in the French fashion industry and it involves warp weaving for a reverse design.
Other popular types of crepe fabrics include:
- Crepe anglaise
- French crepe
- Crepe georgette
- Wool crepe
- Polyester crepe
- Crepe charmeuse
Frequently asked questions
Still not sure whether or not crepe is for you?
What does crepe fabric feel like?
The feel depends on the material, as well as the upcoming processes. Generally speaking, crepe is smooth and soft, yet some varieties are intentionally made to feel rough for a different appearance.
What is crepe fabric used for?
Initially used with mourning purposes, the crepe fabric is now used for evening wear, dresses, blouses and even decorative items for the house – such as curtains.
Is crepe fabric breathable?
The breathability capabilities of crepe fabric depend on the material. For example, synthetic materials like polyester will not really breathe. But then, crepe can also be based on cotton. It is common in silk crepe and wool too. Cotton in particular ensures good breathability.
Is crepe fabric good for summer?
The actual fabrics in the crepe make the difference. Again, cotton wins when it comes to summer vibes. It is breathable and it allows your body to feel comfortable on a hot summer day. It is also light.
Bottom line, what is crepe fabric? Some would say crepe is more like a style, rather than a fabric. It is actually based on different fabrics, such as silk, wool and synthetic materials. It has built its way through the fashion industry to become a good evening wear solution, but its attractive and dramatic appearance makes the crepe fabric ideal for home decorations too.