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Choose the right fabric for your gown

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Kevin and Anupa Yarna exchange wedding vows under Hindu rites on September 7 at the bride’s residence at Don Miguel Road, Barataria. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Even though I cannot sew (well…not as yet), ever since I was a little girl I’ve been exposed to sewing through my mother and grandmother. From a very young age, it was a norm for me to go to stores to choose fabric for outfits and then come home to sketch out designs. Perhaps you’re engaged and have never yet made it to a fabric store or maybe you’ve never had any interest in textiles. This might make choosing a gown fabric a bit confusing, especially when the staff at bridal salons start describing dresses. One thing to remember is that natural fabrics like silks are going to be more expensive than synthetic ones like polyester.


Here’s a guide to understanding ten of the more popular types of gown fabrics:
1. Chiffon—A perfect choice for our climate. Chiffon can be made from silk or rayon. It is very lightweight and tends to keep brides cooler than heavier fabrics. It can either be sheer or semi-transparent. However, since it is so delicate, it can snag and tear quite easily. Chiffon is often used for a layered or flowing effect on gowns. Crinkle chiffon (chiffon with a slight ribbing) is now a popular choice for bridesmaid dresses.


2. Lace—A universal favourite. It can be used for a see-through effect or used with an underlay. Lace can be part of a bridal gown (on the bodice) or can be featured on the entire gown. Brides like lace for its romantic connotation and also because it does not tend to wrinkle as much as organza and taffeta. Some popular types of lace for wedding dresses are: • Alencon—A corded lace made with heavy thread for a three dimensional effect • Chantilly—A delicate lace done on mesh. It usually has a double scalloped edge and; • Guipure—A large, patterned lace that is held together with connecting threads or done on mesh. 


3.  Brocade—A heavy fabric that features a “raised” or embossed design. Brocade often features metallic threads woven into it.


4. Tulle—A type of netting made from silk or rayon. This fabric is mostly used for veils or for gown skirts that require volume.


5. Satin—A heavy, formal fabric. The only drawback is that it can show every undergarment imperfection. It works well for pleating and can take heavy embellishment. Duchesse satin is made from a mix of silk and either polyester or rayon, whereas pure satin is made from silk. Many brides like Duchesse satin because of its lighter weight as compared to pure satin and also because it does not wrinkle easily. Most bridesmaids love the feel of stretch satin, especially for form fitting dresses. 


6. Silk charmeuse—This fabric is made from silk and is very smooth, so it wrinkles easily.  It can be described as a lighter version of satin.


7. Shantung—Made from silk worms and the end product is a rough-textured fabric that crushes easily. It is often said to have a “nubby” appearance.


8. Dupioni silk—Just like shantung, this is also made from silk worms. Its finish is similar to shantung in that it feels coarse and stiff and has a slight sheen.


9. Taffeta—This fabric is crisp and has a shimmer to it. You will know taffeta by the “rustling” noise you hear when you walk. Taffeta’s strength lies in it being able to achieve full skirts and complicated folds. It can either be made from silk or synthetic fibres. 


10. Organza—A stiff, semi-sheer fabric. It can be made from silk, rayon, polyester or nylon, however, most bridal gowns are made from silk organza. Organza can come beaded or embroidered. Designers like it for its use in creating full skirts and structured looks.


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