Crepe, Satin & Polyester Fabrics - All you need to know

We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything crepe, satin and polyester related, including information about chiffon, crepe de chine, georgette, scuba, peachskin, satin, plisse, & stretch crepe, and tips on how to sew with these drapey dressmaking fabrics.

WHAT IS CREPE FABRIC?

Crepe fabric is the result of highly twisted yarn. Crepe tends to have a crinkled texture with a pebbled appearance, and they normally have a fluid drape. 

The properties of crepe fabrics depend on its fibre content (polyester, viscose, silk and even wool fibres are used to make crepe fabrics). Polyester crepe is one of the most common crepe fabrics used in the fashion industry. 

TYPES OF CREPE FABRIC:

Crepe de chine (also known as faille crepe) has a matt finish with a textured pebbly surface due to highly twisted crepe yarns. You can find polyester crepe de chine or silk crepe de chine. You can also find plain crepe de chine as well as printed and embroidered crepe de chine fabrics. Crepe de chine fabrics are lightweight, springy and have a fluid drape. They are often used to sew blouses, dresses and even lingerie.


Georgette crepe is lightweight, sheer and very drapey. Georgette fabrics have a rough surface due to the highly twisted yarns. Georgette fabrics can contain polyester, rayon or silk fibres. They are not suitable for fitted garments, and usually used to sew occasion dresses and blouses that are designed to drape on the body 

Chiffon 
is lightweight and sheer, it is loosely woven to achieve the sheer characteristic.  It has a slight rough texture due to how it is woven (the twist in the crepe yarn slightly puckers the fabric when woven).  It is most commonly used as an outside layer for an evening or bridal gown 


Pleated Crepe (Plisse) is most commonly achieved by heating with pleating paper. The variety of pleating designs can vary depending on the design and fabric being used. Polyester fibre fabrics are most commonly used as they remain soft after being heated. You can also achieve pleated fabrics by physically stitching the fabric and by using chemicals. They are lightweight but have volume due to the pleating. They are commonly used to sew skirts and dresses

Example of a garment made out of plisse fabric from I AM Patterns.

Wool Crepe has a rougher wiry like texture which is the result of using yarns that are highly twisted. It can vary in weight and stability, but it is commonly found in suiting 

Crepe Back Satin (also known as crepe charmeuse) is woven using the satin technique with crepe twist yarn, which results in it having a smooth soft finish on one side and on the other side it has a crinkled textured finish. They have a soft drape meaning that they are ideal for sewing dresses

Stretch crepe is the result of highly twisted yarn with added spandex. It has a matt finish and a slight texture to it. The stretch within the fabric means that it is perfect for sewing fitted trousers or a dress that requires a fitted bodice. 
 

WHAT IS POLYESTER FABRIC AND HOW SUSTAINABLE IS IT?

Polyester is a synthetic man made fabric that is usually derived from petroleum. You will often find polyester in the following types of fabric: crepe, scuba, peachskin, satin and so on. 

Fabrics containing polyester have a negative impact on the environment. Not only are they not biodegradable, but the manufacturing process requires lots of water and the dyes used for polyester fabric are insoluble in water. Additionally, polyester is derived from  petroleum, and it is well known that the oil manufacturing industry is one of the world's biggest pollutants. Also, it has been found that synthetic fibres make up a large proportion of micro plastics found in waterways. One way the fashion industry is trying to combat this is by introducing recycled polyester which is often derived from used plastic bottles. 


WHAT IS PEACHSKIN FABRIC?

Peachskin fabric is a woven polyester fabric. It has a smooth texture and is soft to touch (similar to that of a peach skin). It is lightweight and has a beautiful drape. It has the luxury feel of silk and viscose but is inexpensive, hardly creases and doesn't need much ironing. It is prone to snagging so it is advisable to use a small sharp needle when sewing with it.  It is perfect for sewing a floaty dress, skirt, culottes and blouses.  


WHAT IS SATIN FABRIC?

Satin fabrics are created using the satin weave which results in a smooth lustrous surface. They can contain polyester, acetate, rayon or silk fibres. Satin fabrics have a fluid drape, which means that they are often used for dresses and blouses. You will find printed satin as well as a wide selection of coloured plain satin. It is prone to snagging so it is advisable to use a sharp fine needle when sewing.

@annatriestosew made her bridesmaid dresses using our sandwashed satin

TIPS FOR SEWING WITH DRAPEY SLIPPERY FABRICS SUCH AS CREPE, POLYESTER AND SATIN

  • It goes without saying - make sure you prewash your fabric, if you are using a fabric that has a wool or silk content then you might be looking to hand wash it
  • Use table top scissors or a rotary cutter when cutting out your fabric
  • These fabrics are very slippery so it is advisable to either cut out your pattern pieces singularly, or if you want to cut two layers together then make sure you secure your selvedges. You can do this by pinning your selvedges together. This will mean that you keep your grain line straight
  • After you have cut out your fabric take the pattern pieces off and re-lay them on top to check if the fabric shifted when you were cutting 
  • If your pattern requires pieces to be interfaced then it is great if you interface the fabric before you cut it out, also if you are using a polyester fabric it would be better to use sew in interfacing 
  • Use fine pins or pattern weights when cutting out - these fabrics are prone to snagging  
  • Use spray starch - this helps to make the fabric more stable for cutting out
  • Use a brand new sharp small sewing machine needle (such as microtex needles) - this will help to prevent the fabric snagging when sewing with it 
  • Hand baste before using your machine - yes I know it is time consuming but you will thank me later
  • Use a walking foot - this will help to avoid the layers of fabric shifting when sewing as it will feed the layers of fabric through the machine at the same time 
  • Make sure you finish your edges because these fabrics are prone to fraying - you could use an overlocker, or if you don't have an overlocker you could finish them with a zigzag stitch or why not go for a professional finish and use french seams (french seams are sewn twice- encasing the raw edge within the seam and creating a very neat, delicate seam)
  • Make sure you check your iron before pressing - polyester will melt, so it is important that the iron isn't too hot. It is also beneficial to use a pressing cloth 

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If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can contact Team Sunshine at teamsunshine@sewmesunshine.co.uk

We stock a wide range of crepe, satin and polyester fabrics, click here to view the full collection.


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