What Is the Difference Between Chiffon & Tulle?

Updated July 20, 2017

Chiffon and tulle are two different types of materials, both used for more formal occasions, such as fancy dinner parties and weddings. You can tell which is which when put side by side, as chiffon will have a soft, flowing, draped effect. Tulle comes in several mesh densities, depending on the project it is used for. Stiff large-mesh tulle is what ballerina tutus are made of, along with extra boning added in. Small-mesh tulle is used for wedding veils and as an outer layer on a formal dress.


Chiffon is mainly used for women's formal evening dresses and other special occasions. It is created from silk, cotton or some type of synthetic material, and has a soft, draped flowing-in-the-wind look. East Indian women wear saris made with uncut chiffon, using merely a wraparound effect. Chiffon is easy to dye just about any colour requested and easy to wash. If using a drying machine, just run it for five minutes to get the kinks out, then hang up to dry.


Tulle is made from fibres such as rayon, nylon and sometimes silk and cotton. The wide mesh material is stiffened up to give more of a shape and is usually used under long skirts for the puffy, standout look. Fine mesh tulle is used for wedding veils and retains a flowing look but is stiffer than chiffon. A ballerina's tutu is made of up to 10 layers of stiffened tulle, stitched together through from the bottom. There is usually a circular boning ring put in to retain the shape over time.

Decorating With Tulle and Chiffon

Thin tulle and chiffon work as drapery effects on curtain rods, with excess material hanging down either side. Both can be used as sheer curtains too. Use tulle to make bows as found on back of chairs at a wedding. You lay over a silk or cotton material on the chair, then wrap around a long piece of tulle. Tie the tulle into a fancy puffed bow. Gather the chair material and pull around towards the back, gathering into pleats under the bow.

Artistic Creations

You can create delicate-looking flowers with tulle and chiffon, giving your dresses or rooms that special vintage look. Attach to false sprigs of leaves and sew in pearls and Swarovski crystals to add that special fairy tale atmosphere. A beautiful, shimmering flower in the same colour as your dress would sit well in your hair when it is pulled back into a low twisted bun. Attach with hairpins or hair clips.

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About the Author

Jennifer Holmes, owner of Creative Writing Service since 1996, has published in several nationwide trade magazines and local newspapers. A 1995 graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, emphasis in history and interior design, her business background is in market analysis, kitchen and bath design and the classical arts.