What Is Crepe Fabric – The Good, Bad, And Best Uses

What Is Crepe Fabric?

The name “crepe” might not immediately ring bells, but you've undoubtedly encountered this fabric in a myriad of forms, be it in your wardrobe or elsewhere. Known for its distinctive crinkled texture and elegant drape, crepe is truly a fabric that adds a dimension of sophistication and grace to any attire.

Crepe, or crêpe as it's spelled in French, has a history as rich as the texture it is famed for. The word “crêpe” is derived from the Latin term “crispus,” meaning “curled” or “crinkled.” The journey of crepe fabric began in the East, with China and Mongolia being its earliest producers. It was then carried along the silk routes to the Western world, where it found favor in the wardrobes of the royals and the elite.

What Is Crepe Fabric?

Traditionally, crepe was made from silk; the highest quality crepe is still silk-based. However, modern iterations of crepe may use different types of yarn such as cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers. Regardless of the material used, the making of crepe involves twisting the fibers before weaving, which results in its signature textured, pebbled appearance.

Crepe is not just about looks; it's a sensory delight. Run your fingers over a piece of crepe fabric, and you will feel a light, airy texture with a slightly rough, grainy surface. This roughness is due to the twisted fibers, yet despite this texture, crepe fabric feels surprisingly soft and is incredibly comfortable to wear. It is also highly absorbent, making it perfect for those hotter summer months, while its wrinkled texture helps hide any unwanted creases.

One of the reasons we adore crepe is its versatility. It's not only limited to clothing but expands across a vast array of items. From delicate blouses and graceful evening gowns to home décor items like curtains and cushions, crepe has marked its presence. Even in the culinary world, the name ‘crepe' is given to a type of thin pancake due to its textured resemblance to the fabric.

Quick Reference For Crepe Fabric

What Is Crepe Fabric?

Pros And Cons Of Crepe Fabric


  • Texture and Appearance: Crepe fabric has a distinctive wrinkled or pebbly texture which can add a unique visual interest to a garment or item. Its light-catching quality can also make colors appear more vibrant.
  • Drape and Flow: Crepe fabric generally has excellent drape, which can create a flattering, elegant silhouette when used in clothing. It's often used in formal and semi-formal wear, such as evening gowns and cocktail dresses, due to this flowing quality.
  • Versatility: Crepe can be made from various types of fibers, including silk, wool, and synthetic fibers, giving it considerable versatility in terms of feel, weight, and appearance.
  • Resistant to Wrinkling: Its crinkled texture naturally helps resist wrinkling, which can be advantageous for both travel and long wear times.
  • Trans-seasonal: Crepe is a fabric that can be used across multiple seasons. Lighter crepe fabrics are suitable for spring and summer, while heavier versions like wool crepe can provide warmth in the fall and winter.


  • Delicate Care: Crepe fabric, especially when made from silk or wool, often requires gentle care, including hand washing or dry cleaning, which can be inconvenient and potentially expensive.
  • Cost: Depending on the fiber used, crepe can be expensive. Silk and wool crepe, in particular, tend to be pricier than their simpler woven counterparts.
  • Heat Retention: Synthetic crepe doesn't breathe as well as natural fabrics like cotton or linen, which can make it less comfortable in hot weather or for individuals who tend to run warm.
  • Difficult to Sew: Because of its textured, slippery surface, crepe can be challenging to sew, which might make it a less desirable choice for homemade garments or for tailors.
  • Appearance Isn't Always Preferred: The crinkled look of crepe isn't for everyone. It doesn't lend itself well to crisp, tailored looks, and the texture might not appeal to individuals who prefer smooth fabrics.

A Short History Of Crepe Fabric

The exact origins of crepe fabric are somewhat uncertain, but the technique of creping – creating a pebbly surface via twisted weave – can be traced back to ancient times. Early forms of crepe may have appeared in the East Asia, especially in China, where silk was first domesticated and used for fabric production.

Crepe became more widely recognized in Europe, particularly in France, during the 19th century. Crepe was typically made of silk during this period, and thus it was considered a luxury item. Silk crepe, or “crepe de Chine,” was known for its light weight and subtly textured surface, and it was a popular choice for elegant attire and mourning dress.

What Is Crepe Fabric?

The traditional process of making crepe involves a distinctive method of treating the weave or knit. This involves using hard-twist yarns, which are twisted so tightly that they actually curl back on themselves. When woven together, these yarns create the fabric's characteristic pebbly surface.

In the 20th century, with the invention of synthetic fibers such as polyester and rayon, crepe fabric became more accessible and affordable. This opened up the use of crepe to a broader market and allowed for new variations on the traditional crepe weave. For instance, crepe georgette and Moroccan crepe are examples of new types of crepe that emerged in the 20th century.

Best Sewing Projects For Crepe Fabric

Remember, crepe can be somewhat tricky to sew due to its stretch and drape, so take your time and use plenty of pins to hold your fabric in place as you sew. Consider practicing on a scrap piece of fabric before starting your project to get a feel for how it behaves under the needle.

Crepe Wrap Dress

What Is Crepe Fabric?

Crepe fabric is ideal for making beautiful, flowing wrap dresses. With its excellent drape and somewhat stretchy nature, crepe lends itself well to this style. Start by choosing a pattern for a wrap dress that matches your skill level. Don't forget to finish the edges, as crepe can fray easily.

Decorative Throw Pillows

For a simple home decor project, you can create your own decorative throw pillows. Choose a pattern that complements your decor, and use the crepe fabric to sew the pillow cover. Crepe's texture can add an interesting element to your home design, and it's generally easy to work with for a project like this. You might consider using a thicker crepe fabric, such as double crepe, for a more sturdy result.

Crepe Curtains

This project requires a bit more fabric and time, but the result is well worth the effort. Crepe fabric's lightweight and flowing nature make it perfect for soft, dreamy curtains. Choose a crepe color that matches your room, measure your window carefully, and sew panels to fit. Remember to add a bit of extra length if you want your curtains to pool on the floor for a more dramatic effect.

Table Runners

Crepe fabric can also be used to make attractive table runners. You can make them in various sizes depending on your table length. Use a simple straight stitch along the length of your fabric, folding the edges in for a clean finish. You can add a pop of color to your dining room with a brightly colored crepe runner, or choose a more neutral shade for a classic look.

Slip Covers

What Is Crepe Fabric?

If you're up for a challenge, you might consider using crepe fabric to make slip covers for your chairs or other furniture. This is a more advanced project, as it requires precise measurements and a bit of pattern drafting. However, the result is a custom, high-end look. The lightness and drape of crepe fabric can lend a casual, comfortable air to your furniture, and it's durable enough to stand up to use.

How To Care For Crepe Fabric Garments And Projects

With all these new ideas it is essential that we go over some tips on how to best care for your crepe fabric items. Caring for crepe fabric, whether it's used in garments or upholstery, requires some specific attention to maintain its beauty and longevity. Remember, crepe fabric is sensitive to rough handling, excessive heat, and harsh chemicals, so always prioritize gentle care to maintain its softness, drape, and overall appearance.

Check Care Labels

First, always remember to read the care label on crepe fabric garments or upholstery before cleaning. The manufacturer's instructions should provide the most accurate guidance because they know the fabric composition and treatments applied during production. Some crepe fabrics may be machine washable, while others might need dry cleaning.

Gentle Cleaning

If the crepe fabric is washable, you should use a gentle cycle on your washing machine with cool water and a mild detergent. For hand-washing, submerge the fabric in a sink or basin filled with cool water and a small amount of mild soap. Gently agitate the fabric, rinse thoroughly, and avoid wringing it to remove excess water as this could damage the fabric's shape and texture.

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning can be done by dabbing a small amount of mild soap on the spot with a damp cloth. Always test this method on an inconspicuous area first to ensure the soap won't discolor or damage the fabric.


Crepe fabric should be air-dried flat away from direct sunlight, which can fade the fabric. Don't use a tumble dryer, which could shrink and damage crepe. If necessary, gently roll the fabric in a clean towel to absorb excess water before laying it out to dry.


Although crepe's unique texture means it doesn't often need ironing, if you do need to iron crepe fabric, turn the garment inside out and use a low setting. Alternatively, you can place a cloth between the iron and the fabric to prevent direct contact. A steam setting can help remove wrinkles without applying too much heat.


For storing crepe garments, try to avoid folding them as this can cause creases. It's better to hang them in a dry, cool place. As for crepe upholstery, try not to place it in direct sunlight for prolonged periods to prevent fading.

Professional Cleaning

Finally, for crepe items requiring professional cleaning, make sure to find a reputable dry cleaner who's experienced with crepe and other delicate fabrics. This can help extend the life of your crepe items and ensure they stay in good condition.

What Are The Different Types Of Crepe Fabric?

The various types of crepe fabric are differentiated by their fibers, weaving techniques, and finishes. Here are some of the most common types:

  1. Crepe de Chine: This is a soft, lightweight crepe made typically from silk, but can also be made from synthetic fibers like polyester. It has a slightly crinkled texture with a good drape, making it popular for dresses, blouses, and lingerie.
  2. Crepe Georgette: Made originally from silk but also available in synthetics, Crepe Georgette is characterized by its crinkly surface, sheer and lightweight nature. It is often used in blouses, dresses, and evening wear.
  3. Wool Crepe: This type of crepe is made from wool and has a distinctively crisp and bouncy feel. It's durable, comfortable, and ideal for suits, dresses, and winter clothing.
  4. Crepe Back Satin: This fabric has a glossy satin on one side and a crepe texture on the other. This gives designers flexibility to use either side. It's often used in evening wear, bridal wear, and lingerie.
  5. Polyester Crepe: This is a budget-friendly type of crepe made from polyester. It has a similar texture to silk or wool crepe but is less expensive, more durable, and easier to care for.
  6. Rayon Crepe: This type of crepe is made from rayon, a semi-synthetic fiber. It has a lovely drape and is slightly heavier than silk crepe. It's often used for dresses and blouses.
  7. Crepe Chiffon: This is a very lightweight, sheer fabric with a slight roughness. It's often used for blouses, scarves, and lingerie.
  8. Japanese Crepe: This is a heavier crepe with a highly textured surface. It's typically made from silk and is used in jackets, suits, and other structured garments.
  9. Moss Crepe: This type of crepe has a crimped appearance and slightly mossy texture. It's typically made from polyester or rayon and is used in dresses, skirts, and blouses.
  10. Crepe Jersey: This is a stretchy type of crepe made from a blend of fibers that usually includes synthetic materials like polyester or spandex. It's popular for items like dresses, skirts, and tops.

Each type of crepe has its own unique characteristics and benefits, making them suitable for different types of apparel and occasions.

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