Crepe or Crepe de Chine

crepe de chine Crepe is the textured, wrinkly, puckered and twisted or blistered fabric often used for evening wear, curtains, table cloths and womens clothing. It is particularly popular in skirts, shawls and scarves and is often beaded or embroidered with gems and metalic threads.

The name crepe actually derives from the French use of the term Crepe de Chine to designate a pure silk ‘creped’ fabric. The French word is derived from the Latin word crispus which means curled, uneven, wrinkled.┬áIn France, the crepe pancake was named after the fabric for its thin and delicate puckered look.

Crepe is also spelled crape in the U.K. and refers to a very different fabric than the soft cotton, silk or synthetic crinkly fabrics known around the world as crepe de Chine in the fabric and fashion industry.

Today, the name Crepe de Chine distinguishes the soft, lighter, textured fabrics from the English hard crapes made of cotton, established during the Victorian era. The British-produced hard cotton crapes are always dyed black and are used to create nun’s habits and mourning clothes. The methods of their production are still guarded secrets of the manufacturers who make them.

How Crepe de Chine is Made

There are two basic approaches to making crepe de Chine and quite often both are employed to some degree.

The first is reverse-twisted strand weave where two pairs of strands twisted in opposite directions are woven together. This creates a puckering and wrinkled effect. The other way this can be accentuated is through various treatments to the fiber. These include using boiling water, caustic soda and other treatments including double-twisted reverse bobbins to increase the blistering, puckering and wrinkling effect.

Crepe de Chine is often used in the making of Indian Sari’s as they drape and flow nicely on the body and can be worn in warm and cool weather alike.

While the original crepe de Chine was always made of silk, there are many variations now available, including polyester and silk blends, and many acrylics as well as the original silk crepe fabrics.

As Encyclopedia Britannica says: “Crepe de Chine textures of artificial silk are common and are often difficult to distinguish from the true silk.”

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