Although they are sometimes mistaken for one another, satin and taffeta are two distinctly different fabrics. They are often woven from the same fibers, commonly silk, acetate or polyester, and both have a lovely, luxurious sheen. But while they look similar at first glance or in photographs, a closer inspection reveals their differences in weave, texture and drape.
If you start with the same threads and weave them differently, you'll end up with completely different fabrics, and this is the case with satin and taffeta. The primary difference between satin and taffeta is the way each is woven. Satin is formed by weaving many long filler (over) threads together with widely spaced warp (under) threads, which gives the fabric a smooth, glossy appearance. Taffeta weave, on the other hand, is a plain weave, meaning it has an equal amount of "over" and "under" threads, which produces a crisper, tighter, more textured fabric.
Both satin and taffeta lend a luxurious, formal look to your home. They both appear smooth and reflect light generously. With this luminous sheen in common, you may mistake them for the same fabric, especially if you have an uneducated eye or are unable to touch and inspect them closely.
Texture and Drape
Holding and touching both satin and taffeta makes their differences more apparent. You'll notice that satin has a very smooth, slick feel, while taffeta has a very slight but noticeable criss-cross texture. Satin is fluid and drapes easily and generously, while taffeta is crisper, with more body, and holds its shape much more than satin.
In the fashion world, both satin and taffeta are used often in women's formal wear for their luxuriousness and luminosity. Because of its fluid drape, designers often craft satin into sleek, form-fitting gowns, while taffeta's billowy crispness makes it ideal for full-skirted ballgowns. In decorating, satin is often used for sheets, bedding and decorative pillows. Because taffeta is crisper and sturdier, it is used more often in decorating for draperies, bedding, decorative pillows and small upholstery projects.
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