The Characteristics of Voile Fabric


The word "voile" comes from the French word for veil, which is an indication of the fabric's intrinsic nature: light-weight and semi-sheer. Voile's plain weave construction makes it similar to other light-weight woven materials, such as muslin, organdy and organza. Crisp, yet comfortable against the skin, voile has been used in women's undergarments and summer clothing. But it is not only for apparel; voile is often used in home furnishing applications such as curtains and window treatments.

Plain Weave Construction

  • Voile fabric is manufactured by using the plain weave, which is similar to the basic basket weave construction. The plain weave is a grid-like format, with horizontal yarns (also known as weft yarns) floating over and under vertical (or warp) yarns. Voile fabric is woven using the shuttle method, where weft yarns are shuttered back and forth, in and out of the warp yarns. This method can make the voile fabric loosely or densely woven, depending on the thread count used. The plain weaving technique allows voile fabric to remain semi-sheer, even if there is a high thread count.

Long Filament Fiber Usage

  • Originally voile was made with natural fibers, such as cotton, linen and wool---which are fibers that have a long filament, or naturally come in long strands. The fibers are combed and then tightly twisted to give them the stiffness and slight sheen associated with the fabric. Contemporary manufacturers of voile have expanded the fiber repertoire to include other long filament fiber, such as worsted silk (which is unwrapped from around the silk worm in one long strand) and synthetic fabric (which can be manufactured at any length). No matter the fiber content, whether 100-percent natural, blended or completely synthetic, twisting the fiber is what gives voile the sheer, clean-cut appearance that can rival organdy.

Light-Weight and Wiry Texture

  • The light-weight and semi-sheer nature of voile is what makes it perfect for curtains, mosquito nets, and in some cases, sundresses. With its dense weave of highly twisted fibers, voile still maintains a crispness that can sometimes feel wiry to the touch. Because it doesn't have the elegance of organza, voile is more suitable for casual summer or resort wear, rather than evening clothing. Though it is a more refined fabric than the similarly woven muslin, voile does have a similar draping ability. It is stiff, but not so inflexible that it can't be gathered tightly together. In fact, its soft yet firm hand is what made it perfect for petticoats in the early 1900s.

Fancy Finishing

  • Unlike muslin, voile has a smooth matte finish that is achieved by singeing away any loose fibers on the fabric's surface. The fabric is available in the plain pattern, but fancier more expensive versions, such as seeded, striped, corded and piqué, have been manufactured in France and England. Traditionally a natural fabric, in the past voile had been dyed with a variety of vegetable and protein dyes---which limited the fabric's available color palette. Since the fiber content of today's voile has changed, there are more options when it comes to synthetic dyeing and finishing options.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit weave image by MichaelJordan from
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • What Is Chambray Fabric?

    Chambray, a double-ply cotton fabric with a tight weave, is similar to denim but not the same. It has a white filler...

  • What Is Cotton Voile?

    Cotton voile, pronounced "voil," is a versatile fabric for both clothing and home decor. It is soft, lightweight and sheer, and usually...

  • How to sew Voile Curtains

    Voile fabrics are a light weight fabric made from cotton or blended with polyester and linen that make terrific curtains for your...

  • How to Sew With Voile

    A soft yet firm, sheer open-weave fabric made from silk, cotton or rayon, voile is often used for blouses, summer dresses and...

  • Care Instructions for Voile Fabric

    Voile is washable and generally easy to care for. The fabric, which may be made of cotton, rayon or silk, is typically...

Related Searches

Check It Out

DIY Wood Transfer Christmas Ornaments

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!