Post 364 – by Gautam Shah
Taffeta is a high end or luxury fabric of Silk. It was worn by Persians since early 3rd C. Persians called it, taftah or taftan or taffian. It has been called taffety. The Persian word meant twisted-woven silk. Silk taffeta was once made from white silk cocoons. The taffeta making materials, their combinations, weaving styles, dyeing, printing and finishing procedures, all have been varying in different locations and times. But, all through history, in spite of many variations, it has retained its popularity for uses like women’s wear, bedspreads, dresses, drapes, lampshades, linings, trimmings, ribbons, corsets, etc.
Taffeta is tightly woven fabric and so has full body. Original taffeta is believed to be woven with equal numbers of warp and weft yarns. But in later periods, the proportions have been varied: with warp and filling threads, yarn-quality such as filament or staple, density of the weave. Other main effects included yarn-dyed and piece-dyed fabrics. Yarn-dyed taffeta has a stiff handle, and a rustle known as scroop, (Scroop -its synonym froufrou, is the sound that taffeta makes). It can be added to certain fabrics, by acid treatment that hardens the fibres of the fabric. Scroop is a desired effect of formal or evening dresses, and for undergarment-skirts for couture dresses of very thin or sheer fabrics like chiffon or georgette.
Taffeta being a silk fabric has a lustrous surface, but different texturizing, sizing and effects can make it a dull or slightly sheen fabric. Taffeta has an identical surface on both sides, and same texture from both orientations due to the same number of yarns in both directions. Some taffeta fabrics have fine cross ribs, formed due to the use of heavier Filling yarn than warp.
Faille Taffeta is cross rib weave fabric with a heavy and firm handle. It is woven with staple yarns. Moire taffeta or Moire faille has ripples which if heat set may not be permanent. Moire, French word meaning watered, once applied to lustrous fabrics of gold, silver and silk during 15th C. Today, it is used on synthetic taffeta as perma-set process. Paper Taffeta is a plain weave light weight material, treated to give a paper-like crisp feel. Tissue Taffeta is similar to paper taffeta but softer in feel and very light weight and transparent fabric.
Taffeta fabrics are given effects. Pigmented Taffeta is woven with pigmented yarns to make them almost an opaque or solid coloured fabric. Shot taffeta, Iridescent, Changeable or Chameleon taffeta, is a plain weave material, but with different colours for warp and filling. The fabric seems to show different colours in different angles of views. Warp-print taffeta is a plain weave, but the warp yarns are differently dyed in segments, or printed before the filling is inserted (similar to Patan, Gujarat, India, Patola Sarees). This gives a dazzling or fuzzy look to the regular patterns.
Taffeta coutil is silk-cotton mix fabric, with lilac-white effect. Taffeta alpaca is similar to coutil but with black and white colour combinations. Fiantique taffeta has slub filler yarns and a near reversible look that imitates fine shantung. Taffeta angleterre is a highly glazed and stiff material used for, caps, hats, form-effects and for curtains and for billowing the dresses through stiff lining.
Taffeta fabrics were favoured for offbeat uses till arrival of Rayons, Nylons, Polyester and glass-fiber fabrics. Taffeta fabrics were used for electrical insulation, parachutes, making air-balloons and very light air craft. Synthetic taffeta like fabrics, mainly of polyesters are used for different purposes ranging from garments, industrial to built-forms. The uses include dresses, dresses for performance, stage curtains, tents, partitions, air structures, umbrellas, soft luggage, and as an insulation and lining fabric.