Frequently asked question about tafetta silk!

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Silk FAQ 14:

What is taffeta silk?

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What is taffetta?

     Taffetta is a silk made from white silk cocoons. It varies from country to country but some people say it's not made in Thailand.

     We have the white silk worm cocoons so suspect that Thai weavers do make taffetta but just don't call it that.

     Plumridge Silks defines taffeta as follows:

  • “Taffeta is a crisp and full bodied fabric.
  • “One of the oldest luxury fabrics, first woven around the 3rd century.
  • “A tightly woven fabric in plain weave.
  • “The fabric is flat and the back and front of the fabric are almost identical.
  • “Silk taffeta has a crisp drape and pools beatifully on the floor when used in drapery.” defines tafetta as: “A crisp, smooth, plain-woven fabric with a slight sheen.”

     Conservatoire des Vieux Metiers du Textile has a long explanation about a specific type of taffeta which may or may not improve your overall understanding of taffeta. See

     The Apparel Search Glossary categorize this fabric into five types and has a definition which may make consensus about the exact nature of it even more unlikely:

     “Taffeta — silk, rayon, synthetics. Usually plain with a fine cross rib. A cloth supposed to have originated in Iran (Persia) and was called ‘taftah’ (a fine silk fabric). In the 16th century, it became a luxury for women’s wear. It is made in plain colors, fancy prints, watered designs, and changeable effects. It is smooth with a sheen on its surface. The textures vary considerably. They have a crispness and stiffness. Taffeta in silk will not wear as long as other high quality silks since weighting is given the fabric to make it stiff. If it is over weighted, the goods will split or crack. Taffeta is often used on care labels.

  • “Faille Taffeta — Made with a crosswise rib weave. Has a distinct rib effect and is usually quite heavy and firm.
  • “Paper Taffeta — Plain weave, very light in weight and treated to give a crisp, paper-like finish.
  • “Shot Taffeta — Usually plain weave, woven with one colour in the warp and another colour in the filling, which gives the fabric an iridescent look. If fabric is moved in the light this colour changes. Silk version of chambray.
  • “Tissue Taffeta — Plain weave, very light weight and transparent.
  • “Warp-print Taffeta — Usually a plain weave, the warp yarns are printed before the filling is inserted. The fabric has a very fuzzy design when design is distorted as fabric is woven.”

     So how would you define taffeta? I’d say these definitions describe almost all types of Thai silk fabric.

     If you want “taffeta”, send us a sample and we’ll match it. We find that sometimes our definition of a fabric is drastically different than those in other countries but we’ve probably got the silk fabric you seek.



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