Weaving technique – Silk taffeta

First of all, it should be remembered that SILK is a MATERIAL and that TAFFETAS is only a METHOD OF WEAVING silk.

Don't be mistaken when you read the term “fabric type” and think that it is the material the fabric was made from.
A type of fabric simply refers to a way of weaving a material.

The term “Silk Taffeta” therefore means that the Silk was woven using weaving techniques called Taffeta.
If you only find the mention “taffeta fabric”, it could be a taffeta weave based on a material such as cotton, wool or even polyester.

Now that the distinction has been made between silk and taffeta, we will describe the characteristics of this type of weaving, its derivatives, the use that can be made of it, as well as the way of maintaining the fabrics which result.

Discover the different silk weaving techniques

Silk taffeta

The history of silk taffeta:

Taffeta is a derivative of the Persian word “tafta”, which means “twisted woven”. This weaving method comes to us from ancient Persia, but it did not have exactly the same attributes as we know it today. Taffeta as we know it first appeared in Italy and then began to be woven in France and Japan.

Today, most of the production of taffeta fabrics is concentrated in India, Pakistan and China. India, however, continues to dominate the market in terms of quality.
Mills in India, mainly the southern region near Bangalore, are the main producers of silk taffeta in the world and have been for centuries.
In 1970, the Chinese province of Jiangsu tried to make a silk taffeta similar to Indian silk taffeta. The fabric produced was thin and less flexible than that made in India.
Several countries in Southeast and West Asia also produce silk taffeta fabrics, but the quality is not as good as that of Indian silk taffeta.

Making silk taffeta:

This weaving method involves passing a single weft thread over then under a warp thread to create a checkerboard pattern. The threads will be twisted as weave to create a stiff fabric.

The characteristics of silk taffeta:

Depending on how it is woven, silk taffeta can be stiff or soft, heavy or light and opaque or transparent. But, no matter the weaving technique, the fabric will be very shiny and soft, with a crisp texture.
Silk taffeta does not warp. Its particularity comes from the rustling sound it emits when worn, and the iridescent effect it produces with each movement it makes.

The disadvantage of this weaving technique is that it makes the fabric very poorly stretchable and therefore unsuitable for certain textiles requiring flexibility.
Silk taffeta also wrinkles very quickly and is non-breathable.

The different possible uses of silk taffeta:

Silk taffeta is a red carpet staple. Its luxurious appearance and shine have made it an exceptional choice among major haute couture brands such as Dior and Chanel.

Silk taffeta has a very high cost, therefore, it is not frequently used for making everyday clothing.
This type of weaving is often used to make very formal evening wear, bustiers and corsets.

When sewn in its stiffest form, silk taffeta can be used to make curtains, wallpaper, handbags, sleeping bags and linings. In fact, silk taffeta can be so stiff that during World War II, it was used to make parachutes.
There was a time when it was even used to produce dressings. Taffeta is indeed the ancestor of plaster.

Silk taffeta washing instructions:

Hand washing or dry washing are the most recommended methods to preserve the beautiful appearance of a silk taffeta item.
Silk taffeta can be machine washed on a delicate cycle only, using a laundry bag.

Learn more about washing, drying and ironing silk

Variants of the TAFFETAS weaving technique:

Taffeta is simply a weaving method. It has several derivatives which depend on the length of the threads used during weaving, their number, their thickness and the way in which they were woven.

The best-known derivatives of silk taffeta are 14 in number and are as follows:

1. The shot of silk taffeta – Shot silk taffeta – Pompadour taffeta: This type of taffeta uses different colored threads during weaving. The resulting fabric has a beautiful iridescent effect and displays different colors when viewed from different angles.

2. Warp-printed taffeta: This type of silk taffeta involves printing patterns on the threads before weaving. The fabric will then have pastel patterns in varied colors.

3. Paper taffeta: Extremely fine fabric. It is the finest form of taffeta weaving. It is also very sharp with a paper-like texture. Despite its delicate nature, this fabric is very durable.

4. Moiré taffeta: Fabric with a watery effect. It features an undulating filigree pattern.

5. Antique taffeta – Flamed taffeta: Very rigid form of taffeta, with a slightly bumpy and lumpy texture. The lumps on the surface of the fabric are very soft.

6. Faille taffeta: Fabric with fine stripes and small grains on both sides.

7. Stretch taffeta: This technique uses standard taffeta weaving methods, while incorporating Spandex to obtain a more elastic and flexible fabric.

8. Yarn-dyed taffeta: This type of taffeta involves dyeing the yarns before weaving. The resulting fabric is stiff and crisp.

9. Piece-dyed taffeta: Unlike yarn-dyed taffeta, this derivative of taffeta involves dyeing the entire fabric after weaving. The resulting fabric will be softer than when dyeing takes place before weaving.

10. Chameleon taffeta: Fabric that changes color depending on the reflection of light. It reflects three different colors.

11. Rainbow taffeta: This variation of taffeta weaving alternates between 4 lilac threads, 4 orange threads and 4 green threads. The resulting fabric offers a visual reflecting all the colors of the solar spectrum.

12. Florence taffeta : Lightest form of taffeta. The fabric is so thin that it is often described as being of poor quality. It is generally used for linings.

13. Marceline: Very light form of silk taffeta. The fabric resulting from this technique is soft and shiny.

14. Louisiana: Brighter version than ordinary taffeta.

As you will have understood, weaving is an art that translates into diverse and varied forms. However, what must be remembered is that no matter the material used, a specific weaving technique will always give the fabric an almost similar appearance.
For example, a silk taffeta fabric will look very similar to a polyester taffeta fabric. The big difference will lie in the benefits that one material brings compared to another.
It is therefore important not to be fooled by the appearance of a fabric, and to always check the label of an item to find out the material from which it was woven.

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Discover the differences between cotton and silk

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