I just published the new Vintage Fashion Guild Fabric Resource, and although there are many, many fabrics and fabric terms I want to add yet, it is pretty big already. I hope you go have a look: VFG Fabric Resource
To make reading through it a little more manageable, I want to introduce one fabric or fabric term to you per week. The first is a truly well known fabric among vintage wearers—taffeta. Many are the great party frocks made from it! Even though it is well known, you may not be familiar with certain aspects of taffeta—I certainly wasn't until I did some research.
All the links take you to definitions in the VFG Fabric Resource, in case you are not familiar with the meanings. For taffeta, there is a pretty lengthy list of fabrics in the same family (under “See also”).
A crisp, tightly-woven plain weave fabric usually with very fine horizontal ribs, taffeta is made of filament yarns (silk, acetate or rayon), sometimes with staple yarn filling. It is often lustrous.
When woven of two different colored yarns, shot taffeta is created, also called changeable or iridescent. When the iridescent taffeta is silk, it can be called shot silk. Woven of three colors (two in the weft, one in the warp), it is called chameleon taffeta.
Taffeta is often the fabric used for moiré, and it can be processed to create ciré.
Taffeta makes a characteristic rustling sound when moved. The sound is called scroop (a late 18th-century word blending scrape and whoop) in the case of silk taffeta. The scroop sound results from an acid finishing treatment
The name comes from the Persian taftah, a 16th-century fine silk fabric.
Uses: Dresses, underskirts, linings, trims, umbrellas
©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain, photos by Hoyt Carter
P.S. If you have a small piece—it doesn't need to be larger than about 2" x 2"—of chameleon taffeta (definition above) you would like to donate to the cause, I'd love it to photograph and add to the resource!