Vintage Sewing

What kind of fabric..?

December 1, 2011

Hi you all!

I saw this dress, worn by Betty Draper in the MadMen series, and fell in love with it’s fabric (love the model too but that is not an issue). Does anyone know what kind of fabric it is and by what keywords I can search for it. I like the fading watercolour effect on the flowers but the fabric itself is very nice too… *Sigh*

  1. With that texture, it looks to me like a light corduroy. You can see that the fabric does have some thickness to it if you look at the seams, especially at the point where the waist meets the skirt.

    I love Mad Men clothes. Wouldn’t you love to be on the costuming team for that show?

  2. It’s a pretty heavy faille, maybe even a repp or ottoman – all ribbed fabrics that used to be executed primarily in silk or rayon. Fashion Fabrics Club sometimes has them – I just did a quick check, and I’d say that the silk faille they’re selling right now is too lightweight for this dress, but they have some very nice silk ottoman and some good rayon faille. The silk is much easier to work with; the rayon is drapier and a bit shinier. I would stay away from the cottons and mystery fibers on this one.

    The “fading watercolor effect” fabric is a chine silk (note: chine, NOT china), also called a warp-printed silk. It’s produced by stamping the print onto the warp threads BEFORE the fabric is woven, so the weaving across of the weft threads slightly jostles and misplaces the print, causing the watery effect. Sometimes people mistakenly refer to this as “watered silk,” but that’s actually another term for moire silk.

    As you can imagine, true chine silks are rather expensive, but sometimes you can find faux chines (where finished fabric is simply printed to look like that) at good prices. I bought some from FFC several years ago in a midweight habotai. You just have to keep your eyes peeled.

  3. It is beautiful isn’t it! I believe its actually an ottoman, by the looks of it. Its a beautiful weave to achieve those real painterly prints, but frays like hell when your working with it!

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