Birmingham Wedding Gown Care Blog

Silky Wedding Dresses and Fabric Finishes

Posted by David Whitehurst on April 26, 2011

Taffeta Wedding Dress

A silk wedding dress with a taffeta finish

The most common fabric used in wedding dresses today is polyester.  Compared to silk, polyester is versatile, easy to maintain and less expensive than silk. It's even less expensive to purchase a wedding dress preservation for a polyester wedding dress.

But the most cherished wedding dresses have always been made from silk.

Silk Is More Expensive

There is considerable effort that goes into harvesting the silk threads and then weaving them into the desired material, which is one of the reasons why wedding gowns are typically so precious and expensive.

Natural, handmade silk is the most valuable, and it is unwound from silkworm cocoons by a delicate reeling process - but it’s also common for silk to be produced mechanically.  

Different types of fabrics are used for wedding dresses, with polyester and silk being the most common.  But most people don’t realize that they’re many different variations of silk created through the weave of the silk threads!

Fabric Finishes Used For Wedding Dresses

The part that you’ll be concerned about is how the silk threads are woven together.  The finish is what cloth feels and looks like after it's woven. Most bridal fabrics - including those made with both natural and man-made threads (like polyester) - can be woven into many different finishes. Just like cotton threads make up everything from tee-shirts to heavy denim, silk has a range of finishes and weights. 

These are the more common finishes you see with wedding dresses:

Chiffon is what you find in many wedding veils.  The threads are very fine and tightly twisted, so it’s generally considered the lightest silk fabric.  Chiffon and its slightly crispier cousin, Organza, are layered over fabrics that are heavier, stiffer and shinier to give a garment more depth.  Organza is also commonly used for wedding dress trains and veils.

Crepe is made from a tightly twisted yarn that’s thicker than what you’ll find in chiffon.  Crepe is a flat fabric that drapes well around the frame and is a traditional fabric often used for a Mother of the Bride ensemble or a polished destination wedding dress.

Satin is the most common finish for wedding dresses.  Its tightly woven effect gives silk a beautiful sheen on one side.  You will often see a satin weave using polyester fibers. It's the quality of the thread and the detail of the weave that make the difference between the best and all the rest.  A well made but more expensive satin weave using polyester fiber looks and feels like silk satin.

Charmeuse (SHAR-moose) is the soft, silky version and is probably the most noticeable.  It’s versatile with a medium weight and some natural elasticity, so you’ll see it in a lot of formal dresses, including wedding dresses, as well as trimmed in lace for lingerie.  

Duchess Satin, also called silk-faced satin, has a finish that weighs less than traditional silk. Most Duchess Satins are a blend of silk and rayon woven into a satin finish.

Taffeta is more of a plain weave, and it’s used for full wedding dresses with wide skirts.  If your dress makes a crisp rustling sound, then it’s got taffeta in it!  The photo at the top of this page is made with the taffeta weave.

Although Shantung is stiffer with a nubby feel and distinct visible texture, it’s still widely used – especially to give the wedding dress some weight under all of that crepe that’s floating around!

So now that you know more about silk, you'll know more when you're shopping for your wedding dress or your wedding dress cleaning and preservation.

Wedding Gown Photo in Birmingham Alabama

Complimentary Pressing or Steaming Of Your Wedding Dress

We will press or steam your wedding dress in Birmingham, Alabama before your wedding at no additional charge when your purchase a wedding dress cleaning and preservation before your wedding.

Champion Wedding Gown Specialist
2548 Rocky Ridge Road
Vestavia Hills, AL 35243

Read more about this service here.

Topics: Wedding Dresses, Wedding Dress Fabrics, Silk Wedding Dresses

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