A fabric woven with a fine ridged, crinkly surface, giving it a slight stretch. There are two crepe origins from Chinese silk – Canton and Oriental. The canton is soft from which comes crepe de chine and the Oriental, is the harder. They vary in weight depending on the yarn ply and density of the weave.
The crepe texture for both is achieved by using a twisted weft weave and then by washing, but the Oriental crepe goes through a further process that gives it a stiffer, crisper finish.
Firstly, the warp and the weft silks are spun in natural condition, that is, unwashed so that the gum is still present; then the weft yarn is prepared by reverse twisting the yarn from two bobbins; the fabric is then woven as a plain weave -at this stage there is no appearance of the characteristic unevenness. The cloth is then boiled to remove the gum and during this process the weft loses its twist, the crepe appearance happens and the fabric becomes soft and with a gauze like texture.
Crêpe versions include Crêpe Maroccain Crêpe Romain, Crêpe Charmeuse, Alpaca Crêpe, crêpe de Chine.
Silk and wool can also be successfully woven into crepe fabrics, and a version with a silk warp and wool worsted weft became black bombazine, the standard mourning wear until around the middle of the last century.
Crêpe cloth can have a dated look however, yet all textiles have purpose it’s best not to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’: crepe weaves are fine, durable, drape well and have a very good cross stretch making it lively but manageable.
In the world of couture crepe cloths are used because they layer and drape beautifully, and especially with the added weight of intricate stitch work and beading.
In furnishings all of the crepes – wool, silk or cotton are good standby fabrics. Silk crepe de chine is a beautifully soft fabric for feminine rooms, and wool crêpe, or it’s cousin georgette, is a very beautiful, fine, soft fabric that looks very good as bed curtains and as under curtains, and for bedroom loose covers and cushions
Silk crêpe is the material of choice to line all frame lampshades and it’s the best to make any pleated shade where the pleats need to mould themselves around a shaped frame and when the pleats need to stay bouncy and rounded. Crepe loves to be decorated so use it lampshades, cushions or beautifully intricate sheer curtains –anywhere that it can be dressed up like a dancing dress or a floaty ballgown.