Luxury Taffeta Fabric: History, Traits, Uses & More

by | Apr 29, 2024

Silk Taffeta has every possible reason to be called an evergreen luxury fabric. Even a thousand years ago, when taffeta fabric was named first, merchants recognized it as a symbol of royalty, richness, and taste. 

As Muslin Dhaka has been working on luxury fabrics for quite some time. Our team has decided to share all the practical knowledge and facts about this expensive fabric today. 

We’ve gathered all our experiences and research results to make a complete guide on taffeta fabric. Hope you can find all your questions regarding taffeta answered here. 

What is Taffeta Fabric? Is It a Luxury Item?

Taffeta is a plain-woven fabric consisting of silk, or different synthetic fibers.

During the rise of this fabric, it was a core of the European Fashion Industry. Still now, silk taffeta (the actual type of taffeta) is considered one of the top three luxury fabrics. 

Famous designers like Coco Chanel, who also invented different types of tops for women, used silk taffeta to bring a great revolution. A surprising fact is silk fabrics weren’t the great designer’s specialty. Yet, she managed to create something that even surpassed the designs of Cristian Dior

Even today, you’d find famous brands like Emilia Wickstead from London creating exclusive designer dresses using taffeta. The popularity or demand of this clothing fabric hasn’t dimmed a bit. 

But not more than a century ago, the invention of synthetic taffeta made the fabric cheaper and more accessible to all sorts of people. However, they are nowhere near the quality or richness of luxury silk taffeta. Nylon or polyester taffeta resembles the silk version only by outlook, construction, and some other basic traits. 

 

Industrial NameTaffeta fabric
OriginFirst named in Persia before the 13th century
Other NamesNames are determined based on the material (for example: silk taffeta, polyester taffeta, etc.)
ConstructionSilk yarns are twisted and woven without any special treatment
Weight60-190 GSM for luxury dressmaking
ColorCan have any type of prints and colors
AirflowSlightly less breathable
Moisture AbsorbanceInstantly starts absorbing moisture; but takes time to soak the whole moisture
WeavingMainly plain weave
StretchNearly 0
Heat InsulationBlocks heat regulation due to dense weaving
Shrinkage Ratio3-6% approximately
UsageParty wear, lining, exclusive accessories, etc. 

 

What Does Taffeta Look Like? 

From a distance, pure silk taffeta looks like an artisan has created a fine and smooth surface with perfect polish. That has made the fabric look crisp and slightly sheen. 

When you look at taffeta sheets closely, the amount of sheen might be less than any satin fabric. The weaving is so firm and dense that you can have the desired shape in taffeta dresses. 

Piece dyed taffeta

In short, one can say that taffeta features a fair range of silhouettes. 

A hard job is to differentiate between silk and poly taffeta from a distance. Because synthetic types go through calendering to look as smooth as silk ones. But if you touch & feel both types, can understand which one is made of silk and which isn’t. 

What is Taffeta Made of?

We already said it a dozen times, original taffeta is made from rich silk yarns. 

Commercial taffetas, also known as synthetic taffetas, are made of cost-effective materials like polyester, nylon, cuprammonium rayon, acetate, etc. 

These semi-synthetic or synthetic yarns are as efficient as everyday cotton yarns. 90% of our nearby clothing or fabric wholesale stores sell taffetas made of artificial fibers only to ensure affordability for general people. 

Taffeta History

The history of silk taffeta is more than a thousand years old. But the naming of this fabric was first found in the late 12th century. 

“Taftah” was the primary name of this fabric. It was given by the Persian (Iran) fabric merchants. The word taffta or tafta means twisted woven. It means a fabric with twisted yarns woven together. 

Although the transition period of old silk taffeta into modern luxury taffeta is still unclear. The use of taffeta or almost similar fabrics is found in every century. For example, the naming of the tabby cat was inspired by striped taffeta fabric around the 16th century. 

A few articles say that Italy, France, and other neighboring countries recreated the classical taffeta. And gave it more enhanced looks during the early 20th century. 

However, the production of taffeta in Asian countries also began in the same time period. China, Japan, and India were 3 of the biggest exporters in this region. They made taffeta from both raw silk and synthetic fibers. 

Even after the Industrial Revolution, companies failed to figure out a cheaper way to produce silk at a large scale. Thus, silk fabrics were considered luxury items even in the modern age. 

The price of taffeta remained beyond the reach of common people. Public figures started to show off or brand their presence by wearing luxury taffeta. An example is the late Lady Diana also wore an ivory silk taffeta gown at her wedding. The dress became the topic of the year. 

Back to the topic, by 1970, the biggest exporters like India and China started fully mechanized production of silk taffeta. Till now, these two countries have produced the best types of luxury taffeta fabrics for the global market. 

Why is Taffeta So expensive?

Pure silk taffeta is very expensive, at least 10-15 times more than natural cotton fabrics

( Only exception is luxe Dhaka Muslin)

The cultivation of the silkworm can’t be increased artificially at a large scale. So, the production of silk yarn always remains limited. 

Also, the whole process of making yarns into fabric takes a noticeable amount of time and effort. This increases the textile production cost. 

For those two reasons, companies keep the price range beyond the reach of everyone. The targeted buyers of luxury fabrics remain a small community. 

We did some research. The original mulberry silk yarn price is at least around 40-60 USD per pound. The price can go up if one looks for more refined silk yarns. 

Thus, you might understand why the textile industry also makes synthetic taffeta. Reducing cost to compete in the market. Offering good fabrics to people who can’t afford luxury items. 

Taffeta Fabric: How It’s Made

The process of making taffeta depends on what type of material is used. 

For instance, if you want to make polyester taffeta, you need to give special chemical treatments to yarns. Then, after weaving, you might have to calender the sheets for smoothness. 

As we’re focusing on luxury taffeta today, here are the basics of making silk taffeta fabric. 

Sericulture

The first process is to cultivate silkworms and harvest raccoons from them. It is a natural process. So, companies leave most parts to the natural cycle. 

Spinning

After collecting cocoons, they are boiled and treated with mild solvents to bring out silk fibers. Then, spinning machines spin and create yarns from the fibers. 

taffeta threads

Weaving

Plain weave is the primary condition of making a taffeta textile. Silk yarns overlap each other at a perpendicular angle in regular intervals. 

A gentle reminder that there is still some hand-woven taffeta found in American and Indian stores. They are luxury among luxury. You can also find hand-woven silk taffeta online

Note: yarns can be twisted before weaving. 

Dyeing

You can dye taffeta fabric before or after weaving. Depending on the dyeing time, there are two types of taffeta fabric: yarn-dyed (YD) and piece-dyed taffeta. 

Finishing

After weaving, silk taffeta doesn’t need any sort of heavy treatment or post-process care. But some factories give a small amount of polishing or calendering to smoothen the fabric. 

types of taffeta

Types of Taffeta

By materials, there are two types of taffeta fabric:

  • Natural or Silk
  • Synthetic or Semi-synthetic (polyester, rayon, etc.)

In silk taffeta, there are more than 10 varieties depending on the production process, characteristics, etc. Here are the most common ones: 

Yarn-Dyed Taffeta

Here, the silk yarns come dyed and then go for weaving. This fabric is good for structured women’s dresses like gowns, wedding dresses, party costumes, etc. YD taffeta feels crisper. It makes a sound while rubbing, we call it scroop. 

Piece Dyed Taffeta

When the undyed silk yarns get colors after weaving, it’s called piece-dyed taffeta fabric. This is one of the softest luxury fabrics you’ll find. Piece-dyed taffeta fabric is good to wear inside the house. It can reveal the shape of your body. Besides, you can find this textile as underlayers in jackets. 

Shot Silk Taffeta

Shot silk taffeta is a versatile fabric. The color warp and weft yarns are different here. That’s why the shade of color changes along with the viewing angle. This fabric is very famous in European regions. 

Paper Taffeta

This version is as thin as a paper sheet from your white notebook. It is a very delicate textile with added crispiness. 

Warp Print Taffeta

Here, only the warp yarns come printed to make a fabric with a vague outlook. 

Moire Taffeta

Moire is a French word. It means watered. In moire taffeta, you will find fabric has a watermark-type texture throughout the sheet. 

Antique Taffeta

The spinning of silk is uneven in antique taffeta. For this reason, there are inconsistent bumps across the fabric. 

Short Staple Taffeta

It has another name, faille taffeta. Unlike traditional taffeta, the staples are short like some other organic fibers. 

Luxury Taffeta Fabric Characteristics

Now, we move onto the common characteristics of luxury taffeta fabric. You should know the nature of this fabric properly before making an investment for this luxury item. 

Construction

It was hard to find a sample piece of luxury silk taffeta. Yet, we somehow managed one. We saw that it had a dense plain weave construction. The factory used 100% fine silk yarns here. Most importantly, it was a yarn-dyed version. 

Finishing

The silky smooth yarns don’t need any calendering. They are normally enough to make a smooth surface with a slight sheen (around 20-30% of any exclusive sateen fabric). The fabric surface is smooth. And it is hard to differentiate the yarns just by touching them. 

taffeta fabric crispness

Crispness

Crispness is a key trait of the taffeta fabric. Due to the dense and tight weaving, the fabric looks plain and shiny. It can retain it’s shape pretty well. If you make a fold on the fabric, the fold line will be visible for quite some time. 

Sound

When you rub two ends of the sample sheets together, it’ll create a noise. We’ve already named it Scroop. This scrooping sound is gentler than the sound you get from rubbing two smooth paper sheets. 

Softness

Before taffeta, we’ve spent hundreds of days researching Dhaka muslin fabric. So, if we give muslin’s softness 9 on a scale of 10, taffeta will surely get 7-8 based on the type or construction. But even the YD taffeta is softer than the skin on your palm.

Breathability

Silk taffeta is breathable. But you can’t label it as a breathable fabric. The main reason is the tight weaving. When we kept the sample fabric in front of a fan, it let barely 40% of the air go through it. 

taffeta breathability

Stretch

The stretch of silk taffeta is 0. That’s why there’s a new type of taffeta infused with 1-2% spandex called stretch taffeta. 

Moisture Absorbance

When you sprinkle some water on the taffeta fabric, 20% of it will instantly get soaked, and the rest will remain on the surface. The next second, if you move the fabric a bit, the droplets will go in different directions like they’re slipping on the smooth surface. But within 10 seconds, the taffeta will soak every drop of water. 

Thickness

We feel that luxury taffeta comes in a way that it feels like naturally calendered. The thickness is slightly over a writing paper and less than half of a NT cutter blade. 

Transparency

If you see a rich taffeta fabric from a distance of 3- feet, you can roughly see 30% of what’s behind the fabric. But if you put the fabric right in front of your eyes, it will feel like wearing colored and blurred sunglasses. 

taffeta transparency

Heat regulation

We put a lighter below the taffeta fabric for 5 seconds. The flame was pretty close. Neither the fabric got hot nor we felt the heat from the other side. It seems the fabric absorbs heat slowly. And it can insulate heat slightly more than synthetic fabrics. 

Durability

Taffeta has a pretty strong weave. It’s highly resistant to wrinkling and shrinking. With proper care, it’s possible to use a silk taffeta dress for several years. However, taffeta is very sensitive to sharp objects. 

What is Taffeta Used for?

Silk taffeta is so expensive that it’s rarely used for regular purposes. Till now, we’ve figured out these key uses of the luxury fabric. 

  • Event Wear

Taffeta fabric is mainly for women’s exclusive fashion. Due to the good shape retention, YD and other crisp types of silk taffetas make great wedding dresses. You will also find party dresses that can make you the center of attention in a gathering. 

  • Casual Wear

Soft taffetas are good for making flattery tops and nighties. These items are good to wear in bedrooms and personal spaces. Those taffeta clothes follow the body shape so well. It makes the wearer very attractive by all means. 

  • Designer Items

Previously, we said that taffeta textile had been a top choice for designers to make exclusive items. Still now, brands like STAUD use taffeta fabrics to make designer collections. Carolina Herrera, another women’s exclusive brand, has tons of new designs made of luxury taffeta. 

  • Lining

A jacket made of the highest quality fabric should also contain rich materials for the lining. Piece-dyed taffeta fabric can work from behind as an underlayer in coats or jackets. This is so soft & thin that it can get along with other textiles easily.

  • Home Decor

Grooming yourself on special occasions isn’t enough. You also need to redecorate your home. You can purchase taffeta fabrics from the market to make your preferred type of window treatment or shams. Using taffeta for home decor mainly showcases your high-standard taste in luxury.

taffeta fabric uses

Pros & Cons

Let’s talk about the positive and negative sides of this textile at this point of discussion. 

Benefits

  • Symbol of luxury
  • Showstopper material
  • Sustainable for the environment
  • Evergreen fashion item
  • Safe to use for all ages
  • Good shape retention
  • Rare cases of wrinkling, shrinking, bobbling, or wearing out
  • Comfortable 

Drawbacks

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Not for regular wear
  • Requires delicate handling
  • Prone to tear 

Taffeta Fabric & Sustainability

In the matter of sustainability, silk taffeta fabric gets 10 out of 10. Silk is a biodegradable material. So, silk taffeta wastes or unusable taffeta easily mixed with nature without causing any harm. 

Also, the production process of taffeta is eco-friendly. There’s no chance of using any harmful chemicals or materials to make luxury taffeta textiles. 

However, synthetic or polyester taffeta isn’t biodegradable. Also, the process of making polyester or synthetic material releases excessive amounts of carbon in the environment. 

Taffeta Alternatives

If you are looking for something that might work like taffeta, follow this list.

Satin Fabrics

Stain is a type of weave, not any specific fabric. This weaving gives the fabric some natures that work as a replacement for silk taffeta. 

We often mix satin and taffeta. In satin vs taffeta, satin has more sheen and gloss than silk taffeta. Although both are made of high-quality silk yarns. 

But satin has less crispness than taffeta. it fails to hold its shape on most occasions. We prefer satin as the first choice to replace taffeta because man can also wear Satin fabric.

Chiffon

Chiffon is a type of sheer fabric. Expensive chiffon fabrics are made of either silk or cotton fiber. The softness and transparency of this fabric are the two main features. 

Those who wish to buy bold luxury items can try this fabric. This fabric is more breathable than taffeta. 

Sewing Taffeta Fabric

It takes some guts to sew taffeta fabric at home. One single mistake, and the thick investment in the luxury fabric is gone!

You should know how to sew silk taffeta first. Then, you can go for making a homemade taffeta dress. Today, if we start talking about the right way to sew, the article will take ages to come to a conclusion.

So, here are some pro tips to handle silk taffeta. 

  • Prewash the fabric carefully before sewing
  • Whether it’s sewing needles or scissors, make sure they are sharp as a surgical blade
  • The smooth surface might be hard to hold on to; You can wash your hands and keep them as dry as possible to get some grip
  • You shouldn’t hold the fabric using pins or needles, use some sort of weight instead
  • Beware of your own nails, the delicate surface can get easily damaged

How to Care for Taffeta?

Taking care of exclusive dress requires some effort. Follow these guides to help yourself in taffeta dress maintenance.

How to Wash Taffeta?

  • You should always use cold water to wash taffeta fabric. 
  • Use your hands rather than the washing machine
  • Don’t think of using regular detergents; use mild detergents always
  • Don’t squeeze or twist the fabric roughly; take time to rinse or soak the fabric
  • Avoid using plastic brushes to clean taffeta dress
  • Use hangers to hang the fabric properly after washing

What is the Best Way to Remove Stains from Taffeta?

If you see your dress has some stains, take it to a professional laundry shop. 

They know ways to remove stains from expensive clothes that you won’t be able to do at home. 

But you can always try removing stains instantly using cold water and baking soda. Only soak the areas you need to treat with the soda solution. Then, use a soft fabric scrub to rub the stained area.

How to Iron Taffeta?

  • Keep your iron in low heat mode to press taffeta dress
  • Run the iron slowly and gently
  • Always follow the structural folds and lines to preserve the shape
  • If the iron isn’t done properly yet, repeat the above process again. Don’t increase the heat

Taffeta fabric by the Yard

As you are spending a hefty amount, you need to keep some key considerations in mind. 

First of all, you need to be aware of the seller’s reputation. It’s not possible to determine the quality or authenticity of taffeta fabric by seconds or observation. Reputed sellers will always try to uphold their brand image. Offer the best taffeta with win-win deals. 

Basically, rich silk taffeta might cost more than 20 USD per yard. The price will increase or decrease depending on the quality. 

Lastly, see the online reviews of a product or store before confirming the purchase. 

Where to Buy Taffeta Fabric?

The best luxury taffeta can be found in Etsy. Even the polyester textiles are as good as natural fibers in some stores at Etsy.  

But if you want some discounts, look deep into the collections on Amazon.

FAQ

Is taffeta fabric waterproof?

Only the polyester taffeta is waterproof. Silk taffeta can soak water pretty quickly. Polyester taffeta is a common material used to make umbrellas and medical gowns for waterproofing. 

Which is better: taffeta or polyester? 

Polyester is a material and taffeta is a type of luxury fabric. Taffeta can also be made with polyester yarns to make some affordable and durable fabrics for regular uses. However, polyester taffeta isn’t as good as silk types. 

Is taffeta noisy? 

Almost every type of taffeta is somewhat noisy. It’s because of the level of crispness. Some are very noisy while others are slightly gentle. 

Summary: Taffeta

If you’ve made the decision of buying a piece of luxury taffeta, we totally support you. Even if your wallet doesn’t. 

We’ve told you almost the whole basics of taffeta fabric. Apart from silk taffeta, there are polyester taffeta or rayon taffeta that you can buy at a reasonable price. 

Before wrapping up, here’s a surprise. Muslin Dhaka is now making luxury muslin fabrics in their own factories. To pre-order, just Contact Us!

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!

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