Post 252 ⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


A sheer fabric is very thin material, which makes it very translucent face and enlivens the light that to filters through. A sheer fabric has a graceful and natural fall. The translucency and soft bearing of sheer or similar fabrics have been preferred in all ages for dresses and draperies. The most desired of sheer fabrics, is the silk, The oldest is Linen and, Cotton has been most widely-used fabric. Polyesters are emerging as multi-use fabrics that can be formed to desired textures, effects and strength.

Banana Silk Sheer fabric for Barong Tagalog

Sheer effect in a fabric comes through due to natural fineness of the yarn itself fine spinning and weaving. Many synthetic yarns (polyesters, Aramid) are formed of very long staples or filaments, so are used alone or as co-spinning material to achieve similar effects. Some of the most used sheer like fabrics are made from cotton. Some of the lattices like airy or net woven fabrics are so pliable, flimsy and semi-transparent that they behave like a sheer fabric.


LAWN of Linen

Linen fabrics are made from fibres of Flax plant. Linen is a Bast fiber or skin fiber collected from the inner bark (phloem) surrounding the stem of certain plants. Linen fabric manufacturing is very ancient (nearly 35000 BC) but a labourious process. The linen fabrics were woven from hand-spun yarns, and considered very fine for their times (in comparison to wool, etc. and absence easy availability of cotton), but were actually fairly coarse compared to modern fabrics. Flax fibre is both, long and short staple fibres. It is not elastic, and so difficult to spin and weave without frequent breaking in dry state.

Linen fabrics are smooth, absorbent, lint-free, cool to touch, initially little hard but frequent wash-beating makes it softer but brittle. Linen fabrics do not stretch, and acquire a near-permanent crease on sharp folding, a desired quality for curtain making. Linen fabrics show resistant to damage from abrasion, so were preferred rubbing-polishing fabrics for cutlery and jewellery. Linens resist dirt and stains, and have no piling tendency (forming of small spherical bundles of loosened fibres formed due to frequent washing and wearing of fabric).

Lawn fabrics of Linen are very thin, with characteristic presence of slubs which are considered defects, or aesthetic surface characteristic. The fabrics after several washing cycles became soft, pliable and had beautiful fall. The fall of curtain fabric was further enhanced by storing fabric under weight or ironing. Original linen fabrics were non dyed that is of natural cream (grey cloth) or washed white shades.


LAWN of Cotton

The term Lawn derives from Laon, a city in France, which produced large quantities of linen lawn. Linen is a plain weave textile, originally of flex, then chiefly of Cotton, but now in 80:20 mix version of cotton:polyester. Cotton lawns have high count yarns providing a silky smooth or un-textured feel. The fabric is made, using either combed or carded yarns. When lawn is made of such shorter staple cotton, it has a softer feel and dull lustre.

The fine count yarn and close weave create sheer like feel in the fabric. Lawn is a lightweight cloth, crisper than voile but not as crisp as organdy. After weaving, lawn fabrics are processed further to endow different finishes, to alter the feel and behaviour of the fabric. The finishes create lawns ‘from soft to semi-crisp to crisp, but the fabric is never completely stiff’. Lawn is valued for its lightness and translucency, which ranges from gauzy or sheer to an almost opaque effect. Lawn can be white, dyed, and printed, but newer with in-woven patterns. Loans are, though produced with micro slubs to imitate antique linen fabrics, or woven with ‘wire fillets’ or long lines patterns.

Sheer Fabrics


Muslin is loosely woven plain weave cotton fabric. Muslin is usually made with slightly irregular yarns, but an even weave. It can be woven with tighter or looser warp areas to produce striped patterns. Most muslin is white or cream, but can also be seen in a wide range of dyed colours.

Marie Antoinette in Muslin dress


Organdy was made of cotton and Organza was made of silk, but both have synthetic versions. The fabrics are extremely sheer and crisp. Like lawn, they are plain weave fabrics with fine and even yarns. The yarns are of combed material than of carded variety. The yarns-fabrics are treated with acid to achieve the sheers and crisp qualities. Batiste is a soft and opaque fabric, produced in same manners as organdy-organza, but without the acid process.

Linen Batiste

Gauze: a fine, soft fabric with a plain, very open weave. Very open muslin fabrics are also called gauzes. Gauze fabrics have good fall but ‘fall down’ or gather at bottom with own weight and shifting of weft yarn. The fabrics form backside reinforcements layer, if stabilized with adhesive like materials.

Gauze fabric -loose weave

Net: Net or Netting fabrics are of three types, knitted, woven and fused. These are soft in feel due to their open and usually light formation. The fabrics are valued for their light filtering qualities. The fabrics often have alternating mass of opaque and net zones in warp direction. The opaque sections provide reinforcement to the fabric in hanging, and form an edge line of a pleat in the curtain.

.Synthetic sheer fabric with Net base