What is polyester crepe material?

Updated July 18, 2017

Polyester crepe material is a man-made fabric. When introduced in 1951, polyester was hailed as a fabric that needed no ironing. Crepe is a fabric made from tightly twisted yarns. The finished appearance of crepe is crinkled fabric. Before man-made threads and yarns were developed, crepe was made using silk. Advancements in technology have made polyester crepe almost indistinguishable from silk crepe.

History of Polyester

Polyester is one of those happy accidents that scientists come across. Scientists at the DuPont Experimental Station accidentally created a polyester formula, but their research was put on hold to work on nylon development. The completion of a working polyester strand was achieved in 1941. Called terylene, it was manufactured by Imperial Chemical Industries, which sold its legal rights to polyester to DuPont in 1946.


Most crepe fabrics are made from polyester, silk or rayon. These fabrics are lightweight and feature a prominent crinkled, crimped or grainy texture. The texture is created during the weaving process when the weft, or horizontal, threads are formed by yarn from two different bobbins twisted together in opposite directions. There are two types of crepe: Soft, sometimes called Oriental crepe, and hard crepe. Among the many varieties of crepes are crepe de chine and ribbed marocain.

Drawbacks of Polyester

Beginning in the 1950s, polyester garments grew in popularity. Thanks in part to large, cheap supplies of petroleum with which to make polyester yarn, polyester fabric could be manufactured and sold cheaply. Unfortunately, it also retained heat and was regarded by the general public as uncomfortable. The mid-1970s leisure suit fashion fad caused further ridicule of polyester. The development of micro-fibres has removed the heat retention issue from polyester.

Benefits of Polyester Crepe

Polyester crepe is an easy to work with fabric that has found favour with both the fashion industry and home sewers. It is lightweight, machine washable and wrinkle resistant. Polyester crepe is used for shirts, skirts, trousers, dresses and lingerie. It is easily gathered, draped, pleated and ruffled, and can be bias cut, but should not be used for close-fitting, body-hugging designs. It is a long-lasting fabric that resists fading and needs little to no ironing. If ironing is needed, turn the fabric inside out before pressing; follow the garment's instructions or use a low-heat setting.

Working with Polyester Crepe

Use very sharp pins and new needles when sewing polyester crepe fabrics. Pre-wash the material and dry following the manufacturer's instructions. If fabric markings are needed, use thread or pins, or chalks that can be washed out; avoid dark marks, especially on light colours. Set your machine for a wide, straight stitch and firmly hold the material with both hands while feeding it through the needle. Seams should not be on the straight grain, and should be pressed open. Hand baste if needed. Narrow machine or hand sewn hems allow fabric to naturally billow.

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About the Author

Karen Sweeny-Justice is a writer living in Surprise, Ariz. Her work has appeared in "Writer's Digest" magazine and "RubberStampMadness" magazine, as well as in newspapers around the United States. She also writes book reviews for "RT Book Reviews" magazine.