What is Faille?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Faille is a type of fabric which is woven with a faintly ribbed pattern, creating a distinctive textured feel. This fabric is often used on formal dresses and gowns, and it can also be used to make jackets, vests, skirts and other garments. Drapes and upholstery may utilize faille as well, typically a heavier grade of this fabric which is designed to stand up to hard use. Many fabric stores sell faille in a rainbow of colors for people who want to work with it, and the fabric also appears in garments in department stores, for people who want ready to wear garments.

Faille may be featured in vests and ties.
Faille may be featured in vests and ties.

Cotton, rayon, and silk can all be used to create faille, which is also called bengaline in some regions of the world. In all cases, the texture of the fabric is like that of grosgrain; it is ribbed and slightly stiff. The stiffness makes faille incredibly useful for clothing, as it tends not to deform or wrinkle, and it can be used to create supportive garments or snug-fitting bodies which will look good after hours of wear.

Formal dresses may feature faille.
Formal dresses may feature faille.

This fabric is primarily worn by women. It has an excellent drape, which is why it often appears in wedding gowns, and it was historically popular during the 1940s and 1950s for gowns and dresses. This fabric is also durable and often quite rugged; it is often very resistant to stains and tearing, for example. When the woven fabric is made with heavier materials, it can sometimes withstand quite intensive and varied uses.

Drapes may features faille.
Drapes may features faille.

Like other ribbed fabrics, faille has to be cut carefully. When you are assembling a pattern, think about how the pieces will fit together, as you want to avoid creating strange patterns with the ribbing of the faille. Ideally, the ribbing of two connecting pieces should match up for a smooth look; avoid perpendicular angles unless you are going for a very specific desired look. It is also important to make strong hems and seams, so that the fabric will not ravel.

In addition to stocking faille in a variety of colors, many fabric supply stores carry undyed or white fabric which you can dye to your own specifications. Since ribbed fabrics can be challenging to dye at times, it is a good idea to consult someone who is experienced with textiles about dyeing faille, to ensure that you get a smooth, even look.

Faille often appears in wedding gowns.
Faille often appears in wedding gowns.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I did not see a pronounciation guide. Did I miss it?


This is great! Now I can make the wedding gown I am designing. A little more stumbles upon info like this and I may attempt it.


great description.


Faille is a really good fabric for couch cushions.

The natural pattern of the cloth is good to keep the cushions visually interesting, particularly if there is no print on it.

And because it's so durable, you don't have to worry about replacing your upholstery every few years.

Definitely a very useful fabric.


I particularly like black faille. I wear a lot of black, and it's really easy to get stuck with the same kinds of materials over and over, but faille can make a piece stand out.

Something about the way it drapes just looks so good; it can turn a regular black item into something classier and nicer.


Oh, so that's what faille is. I have always heard that word bandied around in sewing circles and the like, but I could never find a good faille definition.



Perfect article. I needed to know what "silk-like faille" referred to on the back of a pattern envelope, and this told me exactly what I needed to know. Thanks!

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