SHEER FABRICS and CURTAINS
Post 242 ⇒ by Gautam Shah →
A Sheer fabric is made from very thin threads and low density construction through knitting or weaving. The threads are of Silk, Cotton, Rayon, Nylon and Polyester synthetics. Silk and Cotton are short staple fibres and provide a dull finish, whereas Rayons have little sheen, but most polyesters are filaments (very long fibres) create a glossy finish. The density of a fabric (knitted or woven) determined by several factors such as sectional form the fibre, degree of spinning, massing during spinning and weaving (measured as Denier). The resultant fabrics are transparent, translucent or opaque.
DENIER: A Denier is a unit of measurement for fineness of fibres or filaments, as threads, expressed as the weight in grams for 9,000 metres length of yarn. The surface area of a fabric is directly related to the denier. Smaller deniers yield more fibres per unit weight of the material.
A micro-fiber is less than 1 denier, fibres for sheer fabrics are finer, just 0.9 denier, in comparison, a human hair is 20 denier. The sheerness of a fabric is expressed in denier, 3-5 is extremely thin, barely visible like clear film, 15 to 40 are used in making stockings, and 100 is fairly opaque.
COUNT: Fabrics’ coarseness or fineness, produced by weaving or knitting, are measured in threads counts (both-way) per unit area, (and also warp-ends per inch e.p.i, and weft-picks per inch p.p.i.).
Fabrics with a high denier measure tend to be thick, sturdy, and durable, whereas fabrics with a low denier measure tend to be sheer, soft, and smooth. Sheer fabrics are used as curtains on external face and as dividers in interior spaces. Sheer fabrics, however, are too thin to control incoming sunlight. Sheer curtains filter light, and cause its de-fraction.
In the post middle ages period, glass for windows was flattened from cylindrical form or flat cast. Flattened glass had crinkles and cast one unevenly polished. It was available in small pieces, and even then vision through it was distorted, muddled or frosty. The sheer curtain masked the vision through the window, and provided visual privacy. Sheer curtain fabrics do not offer any insulation against heat or cold, so need additional cover of heavy-opaque fabric curtains. Sheer curtains over bedsteads provide a romantic transparency, provided room is heated (or air conditioned). Sheer fabrics of low denier and high count weaves have little sound absorption, but higher proportion of gathers or creases substantial add to sound insulation capacity.
Sheer fabrics of natural fibres such as Silk, have yarns with multiple fibre stands, whereas Cotton has several staples entwined during spinning, both of these create a fabric that is dull or with little sheen. Rayons are produced as staples so have a slight sheen, unless treated differently. Synthetic fibres such as Nylon and Polyesters are in filaments or very long staples and usually with same cross sectional shape, so provide slightly glossy face. Denser weaves have more sheen or shine. Sheer fabrics of netting type have comparatively low gloss due to greater de-fraction of light.
Preferred sheer fabrics are whites, white, natural (un-dyed) shades of white or off-whites, cream, ivory, colour shades. Though many base shades and prints are available. Lighter colours are preferred, due to the greater capacity to de-fract the light. Colour tinted sheer fabrics were popular to tinge the room with a particular hue with natural illumination through the windows. That is no longer needed as vast varieties of paints and wall finishes with subtle variations of hues are available.
Silk has been the choice fabric for sheer curtains, for people who can afford it. Silk yarns are made of several very fine long staples or filaments, which give strength, dullness and a natural suppleness. Silk has one the most gracious fall of all sheer fabrics. Silk fabrics are thin, but often sized to add body to it. Heavy bodying, treatments and heavy deniers of fibres and counts of weaving, make a silk fabric opaque. Such opaque fabrics though miss some of the grace in fall, are still liked for curtain making.
Art Silk or artificial silks are made by treating polyester fibres, or by co-spinning the filament with rayon, cotton and silk staples. The main purpose of increasing suppleness is achieved by treatments and mix design, whereas fall is achieved by thin or low density weaving.
Sheer fabrics must not be used with a lining fabric to maintain its translucency and climate-related behaviour. Sheer fabrics are also embellished and embroidered for patterns. Such extra work only adds to the weight of the fabric at the cost of graceful fall. Sheer fabrics are commonly heavily pleated and so the total quantity of cloth required is little more then a curtain of regular fabric.
# Next article in the series deals with Non-Silk Sheer Curtain fabrics