What is chiffon fabric made of?

Updated February 21, 2017

Chiffon fabric is a fine, transparent or translucent plain weave fabric. This material is used to make women's special occasion garments and lingerie. Chiffon is also used in some home decor objects such as curtains and ornamental ribbons. Chiffon requires gentle care to prevent snags and other damage, though material made from artificial fibres is more durable than natural chiffon.


Traditional chiffon made from silk has been used in high-end garments for centuries. This delicate fabric is light, soft and tends to float on the air. Silk chiffon works well in scarves and bridal veils. It can be difficult to sew because of its slippery nature. According to More Fabric Savvy, silk chiffon produces the best seam quality and drape but requires extra care. Dry clean or handwash this fabric to preserve its texture. Never use bleach, which can discolour silk. Hang dry away from direct sunlight.


Rayon chiffon looks similar to silk but hangs more stiffly. This man-made material is derived from processed cellulose and has similar breathability to that of cotton. Rayon withstands friction poorly and produces more delicate chiffon than silk, polyester or cotton. Dry clean this fabric, or laundry carefully by hand. Rayon is weaker when wet than when dry. Unlike silk, rayon can be bleached using conventional chlorine bleach.


Polyester chiffon has similar strength and slickness to silk chiffon but is made of a petroleum-derived fibre. It breathes less well than silk, rayon or cotton but requires significantly less care. This material rarely wrinkles and is less likely to tear than other fibres. Like silk chiffon, polyester material can be very difficult to sew. It produces a less desirable drape than silk but can be machine laundered using the delicate cycle and tumble dried on low heat.


Cotton chiffon is a light, breathable fabric but tends to be stiffer and less glossy than silk or polyester. It has similar properties to those of rayon but is much stronger, especially when wet. Cotton chiffon wrinkles more easily than most other materials. Handwash this material, but don't expose it to high temperatures or tumble drying. Cotton is prone to shrinkage when exposed to heat. Cotton may be blended with silk to lower the cost of the finished fabric.

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About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.