What is sheer fabric?
Sheer fabrics are semi-transparent, showing the seams, hems and facings on the outside of the fabric. There's variations in the handle, ranging from cool and crisp to warm and soft, lending themselves well to a myriad of uses. They are generally thin and delicate, however some of the other semi-transparent fabrics are the complete opposite, comprised of thicker yarns just in a more open construct. Sheer fabric and semi-transparent materials can be expressed as a denier, for example 15 denier is the standard sheerness for a pair of stockings and 30 denier is semi-opaque.
Popular sheer fabrics include:
There's so many types of sheer fabrics, each with their own individual properties, however some of the most popular are:
- Paris Chiffon
- Volando Voile
- Florence Net
- Silk Georgette
- Voille de Ville
- Vintage Fade
How are they manufactured?
Every sheer fabric is manufactured in its own distinct way, and will depend upon the yarns used, the structure and whether it's natural or manmade.
You can get knitted or woven sheer fabrics, taut or stretchy, lustrous or matte; each one expertly crafted to give the fabrics these characteristics. To achieve the distinct translucency, sheer fabrics have an open-set knit or weave, where there's more space between the yarns allowing light to pass through. Those made with manmade yarns, such as the Lucent Satin, will have a more slippery handle than those made with natural fibres.
Sheer fabrics tend to fall into two main types; crisp or soft. Organza and Voille de Ville, for example, have a crisp body and are easier to handle than soft, floaty fabrics like Paris Chiffon. Choosing between these two characteristics will depend upon the desired usage of your sheer fabric.
Purposes of sheer fabric
Soft sheer fabrics are often used in dressmaking where a loose, flowing or oversized silhouette is required. They have a beautiful, elegant drape that slips effortlessly over the skin, and the aesthetic is super feminine. Another popular use is interfacing, particular Organza, Voille or Tulle. The fact that they have a stiffness and are malleable make them ideal for adding structure. Bridal wear and sheer fabrics are quite the harmony, due to the feminine qualities and elegant drape. You could make petticoats, underlining or decorative embellishments using sheer fabric.
Perhaps one of the most common purposes is to make curtains. Sheer fabrics provide coverage without totally blocking out the light, allowing the morning sun to shine through. The softer sheer materials have a gorgeous drape that is well suited to the classic curtain style.
Because there are so many different choices when it comes to sheer fabric, there are also many properties associated with them. Here are just a few favourites:
- Paris Chiffon – Lightweight, cool and airy with a dry handle. Smooth surface texture.
- Organza – Stiff, holds shape well. Subtle glittery face and smooth, soft handle.
- Vintage Fade – Matte finish with desaturated print. Soft and with subtle starchiness.
- 100% Real Silk Georgette – Light, fluid material with gossamer appearance. Distinct crepe-like texture.
- Bamboo Sheeting – Crisp with a silky surface. Structured build with foldable qualities.
- Volando Voile – Fine open plain weave with elasticity in the bias. Shiny surface and mesh-like texture.
Advantages of sheer fabric
There's so many advantages to using sheer fabric, especially in dressmaking or curtain making. The crisp ones are somewhat easier to handle than the floaty versions, however they all produce stunning results. The delicacy of some of these fabrics allows you to add a touch of luxury to your garments, or body and structure to something without adding weight. Discover the benefits of each individual fabric and design your own sheer fabric for your next sewing or textile project.