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What Is Voile?

Silk cocoons. Voile fabric made from silk can be difficult to work with.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
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Voile is a lightweight, sheer fabric used for clothing and curtains. The name is the French word for "veil" and the well-draping fabric can be, and has been, used to make wedding veils. Silk, rayon and cotton are the three main varieties, but lace fabric also exists.

Lace made of voile is a hand cut, and may be white or beige or dyed in many different colors. It has open spaces cut out in between the lace fabric. This lace is a type of cotton voile that is popular for table cloths and fabrics sold by the bolt. Some has rich embroidery accents, is it often imported from Africa.

Cotton voile is used to make lingerie, baby clothes, blouses and skirts. It is also popular for making romantic sheer drapes that pool on the floor. It looks very much like gauze and is summer weight and breezy. Some tops made of this fabric, such as some poet's blouses, feature voile lace as decorative accents.

Silk voile is the most difficult type to cut and work with as it is slippery in texture. It is also very luxurious and is also known as silk chiffon. A sheer floral print jacket to wear over a sleeveless top or dress is a classic and popular piece of clothing to sew from silk material.

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Rayon voile is very different from silk as it has a crepe-like texture. Crinkled rayon material is a popular and practical choice for sewing a travel wardrobe. Sarongs and pareos, or rectangular pieces of fabric gathered at the waist for swimsuit cover-ups, are common travel uses for the fabric.

Sometimes polyester is added to voile such as for some types of curtains. Most curtains made of this material are either pure cotton or a cotton polyester blend. No matter what type is used for clothing or for table cloths or curtains, it still always drapes well.

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