Everything You Need to Know About Crepe Fabric

Posted on July 1, 2020 by Stephanie Triplett

The fabric topic for today is (drumroll please): crepe.

It was originally made from silk and traditionally worn to mourn the death of loved ones, but as new substrates have risen, crepe is more common in garment construction. Crepe takes on many different forms, making it suitable for all seasons and a wide variety of occasions. You likely own garments made of crepe or have sewn with crepe before. It’s well known for its texture and impeccable drape, but it's quite slippery, which poses difficulties when sewing. Let’s investigate crepe to find out what makes it appealing and how to manage it like a pro when sewing.

Crepe Basics

As mentioned above, crepe was traditionally made from silk, but is now made from cotton and wool, and synthetic fibers like elastane and polyester. Crepe is quite versatile, as its properties vary drastically depending on its fiber contents. It is made as a woven or knit and can undergo various processes for development. Notable characteristics include crepe’s crinkled texture and a wrinkled appearance. Today, polyester crepe is the most used in the industry because it’s comfortable to wear and wrinkle resistant.

Crepe Characteristics

The following characteristics may vary depending on the fiber content used. Always read the care labor before proceeding to launder your crepe.

  • Breathable 
    • Organic crepe is the most breathable, but other fibers provide decent ventilation when worn in high temperatures
  • Moisture-wicking
    • A considerable option for warmer climates
  • Flammable
    • Has low heat resistance (especially when made with silk)
  • Rough hand
    • Its 3D texture presents dimension for garments 
  • Fluid drape 
    • Its drape makes it suitable for formal wear and evening gowns 

To launder: Follow care instructions on the label. The fibers used greatly impact the care techniques needed.

Common End Uses

From the red carpet to elegant home decor, crepe has many end-uses. 

The most common end uses for crepe are:

  • Evening gowns
  • Dresses 
  • Lining garments
  • Suiting
  • Home decor (curtains, window treatments, pillows)

Tips for Sewing with Crepe

  1. Start your crepe journey by sewing with polyester crepe first because it’s easiest to sew 
  2. Line up your fabric (using selvage for reference if needed) to keep an eye on the grainline, so the fabric doesn't shift during cutting
  3. Prewash as instructed 
  4. Work with single layers when cutting to prevent slipping
  5. Use tabletop scissors or a rotary cutter on a cutting mat to avoid snags 
  6. Line up cut pieces with pattern pieces to double-check for slippage during cutting
  7. Use straight pins or fabric weights when cutting out pattern pieces
  8. Use fabric stabilizer when possible (read care instructions first) or apply tissue paper to stabilize the fabric for cutting and sewing
  9. Adjust your sewing machine to have a low thread tension to prevent puckering
  10. Increase the presser foot tension to keep the fabric more secure
  11. Use a new fine-point to prevent snags 
  12. A walking foot will feed the fabric through the machine evenly 
  13. Use an overlock, overcast, french, or zigzag stitch to finish seams
  14. A blind or rolled hem gives crepe a streamlined and clean look
  15. To press, adjust iron as needed and use a press cloth while ironing on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent damage to the fabric

Crepe and its many variations offer a lot of beauty and versatility for garments and home decor. With a little prep work using the tips and info from above, you can enjoy its flowy drape and crisp, textured hand by sewing something beautiful with crepe today.  

What are some tips you use to avoid slippage when sewing with crepe?

Drop a comment below!

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