Wedding Dress Fabric Glossary
Originated in Switzerland and handspun on looms, dotted swiss is a lightweight, breathable fabric with a sprinkled elegant dotted motif. It's perfect for warm weather and a very popular material for veils.
Knubly and slightly rough to the touch, this stiff material is made from the silk of two silk worms creating a cocoon together. The resulting silk strands from this double cocoon are left together during the spinning process, which is where dupioni gets its signature texture and sheen. Dupioni silk is sometimes confused with shantung, which has a similar knubly texture, but not to the extent of dupioni. This material can be worn year-round and keeps its shape very well.
The term organza actually refers to the type of weave that the fibers are woven into, rather than the resulting material. It's lightweight and composed of either synthetic fibers (think: nylon or polyester) or silk and is used to add fullness to gowns. Some types of organza use a mixture of both natural and synthetic fibers.
Fine. Light. Sheer. Organdy has a similar texture and vibe as organza. However, its sheen adds a very sophisticated finishing touch to a wedding gown and is a popular choice for summer brides because of its thin, crisp weave. Be aware that organdy is prone to wrinkling.
A tulle that has a spirit and texture (see the tonal dots woven on this fabric) that screams elegance and femininity.
Also known as viscose rayon or fashion silk, rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber made completely or partially from cellulose or plant-based material that has been grounded into a pulp and then extruded to form the fibers. Often used as an alternative to silk, rayon is smooth, lightweight, breathable, and ideal for warm temperatures. It's important to note that rayon does wrinkle easily so having an iron or steamer on-hand would be wise.
Made from any number of fibers including silk, nylon, or rayon, satin is actually a type of weave (like organza) and gets its high even sheen from the way in which fibers are woven together. Due to their similar appearances, it's often confused with sateen, which is made from cotton instead of silk or manmade fibers. There are a number of different styles of satin fabrics that are popular for wedding dresses including peau de soie (heavy, good for draping, and has more of a matte "delustered" finish) and charmeuse (lighter and softer to the touch). Satin does crease easily so keep a steamer available.
A member of the silk family and very similar—although a bit more lightweight—to dupioni. If you examine the fabric, you will notice a subtle yet pretty weave (spun silk), which adds a bit of texture to the gown. Because of its weight, shantung drapes nicely without being too heavy. A popular choice for bridesmaids because it photographs well.
One of the world's oldest known fibers, silk is a natural protein fiber made by silk worms (yep, these are actually caterpillars). The highest quality and most expensive silk is Mulberry silk (which get its name from the all mulberry leaf diet the silk worms eat), and is produced by the Bombyx Mori moth during its caterpillar state. Mulberry silk threads are rounder, smoother, and have a lighter more uniform color than other types of silk. Silk comes in many different textures and is great for both warm and cool climates. And despite silk's delicate appearance, it's very durable and can last a long time if cared for properly. Sunlight, humidity, and heat can actually damage silk garments so it's best to store them in breathable garment bags in cool dim places.
Known for its signature "swooshing" sound, taffeta is made from either silk or synthetic fibers. There are different styles of taffeta, and they each have their own distinct characteristics. For example, shot taffeta has a shiny, iridescent appearance, while tissue taffeta is smooth and semi-transparent.
A gauzy, netted material, tulle is often used for veils. Generally made from silk, cotton, synthetic fibers or a mixture of fibers, there are different types of tulle to suit your style. Bridal illusion tulle, which is made of 100% nylon, is soft and has the signature hexagon gauze appearance. Silk tulle is very luxurious and has a fine, sheer look and feel that is not unlike high-end hosiery.
Semi-transparent and sheer, voile is made from cotton or wool; other types of voile are made from worsted silk or synthetic fibers like polyester. You can find voile fabric with Swiss dots or dotted swiss (evenly spaced circular thread embellishments that are either woven, embroidered, flocked, or printed) applied to it. Lightweight and breathable, voile is perfect for hot weather. Summer brides, take note: Because of its elegant yet causal appearance, voile is perfect for informal weddings.