Your 'Fabric guide to buying the right feel dress'
Wedding Dress Fabrics
You shouldn't choose a certain dress just because it looks nice. You need to think about the fabric too. Texture, drape and season are all vital factors in determining the best fabric for a wedding gown. The same style of dress can look and feel quite different in an alternative fabric, since each material is designed to produce a distinct effect.
Some light-as-air knit fabrics cling to the body, while other more crisply woven varieties keep their structure and stand away. Some fabrics reflect light, some absorb it; some have a distinct shine, while others are matte.
Silk, a natural fibre and undoubtedly the fabric most often used for wedding dresses, is noted for its luster, resiliency, elasticity, and strength. Silk threads are woven to create satin (a dense fabric notable for its lustrous gloss), duchesse satin (a blend of silk and rayon that is lighter in weight and more affordable than pure silk satin), charmeuse (a lightweight satin with a more subdued luster), and shantung (a low-sheen textured fabric characterised by a nubby quality). Silk can also be knit into hanging, stretchy fabrics like jersey or crepe.
Dupion and Thai silks are light materials are perfect for the summer wedding, and offer a beautiful textured finish. Then there are gauzier woven silks, such as chiffon, tulle, and organza, all used for skirts in multiple layers as they are transparent but lightweight.
Here are details on the fabrics you are most likely to encounter in the search for your dream dress:
Duchess Satin -
This is one of the heaviest and most beautiful natural fabrics. It has an amazing rich finish, but due to its weight may make it unsuitable for a hot summer's day.
QUALITIES: Smooth, glossy, very lustrous weave with a matte back
FIBRES: Silk or silk/rayon blend
USED FOR: Formal looks, beautiful for simple designs or with embellishments
Silk Georgette -
This fabric is very light and floaty and typically used as a top layer, to drape and glide over the body of the gown. It adds a softer line to the silhouette of the gown.
QUALITIES: Sheer and fine weave with a crepe-like texture
FIBRES: Silk, poly or manmade fibres
CLIMATE: Spring, summer, autumn
USED FOR: Drapey, layered styles
QUALITIES: Sheer woven-like chiffon, but crisper
FIBRES: Nylon, poly, rayon or silk
USED FOR: Layering and overlays, veils, trains, full skirts
QUALITIES: Stiff crisp weave, with a crosswise rib; can have a slight sheen or dull finish
FIBRES: Silk or poly
USED FOR: Structured ball gowns; full skirts
QUALITIES: Fine-mesh netting with a hexagonal pattern; machine made
FIBRES: Cotton, silk or nylon
WEIGHT: Very light
USED FOR: Skirts, veils, mixes well with other fabrics
This material is extremely light and has a translucent appearance. It is normally used draped elegantly over the arms and shoulders.
QUALITIES: Delicate, sheer, fluid and hanging weave with a matte finish
FIBRES: Nylon, poly, silk or rayon
WEIGHT: Very light
USED FOR: Great for sleeves, layers, veils, overlays on opaque fabric
Italian Satin -
This material is defined as a blend of silk and satin. This is a manufactured material to give a texture and quality you cannot get with natural materials. These materials can offer fantastic finishes as well as being more resilient to creasing. They can often be less costly and easier to adapt to certain designs.
QUALITIES: Smooth weave with a high sheen on one side
FIBRES: Acetate, poly, silk or manmade fibres
WEIGHT: Medium to heavy
USED FOR: Any shape or style
Here's a quick guide to some of the other fabrics you will also come across.
QUALITIES: Crinkled or grained in texture
FIBRES: Acetate, rayon, silk or blends
USED FOR: Informal flowing gowns
QUALITIES: Plush and thick weave with a felted face and plain underside, can be embossed or patterned
FIBRES: Cotton, poly, rayon, silk or manmade fibres
CLIMATE: Autumn, winter
USED FOR: Softly structured silhouettes