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.
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.
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.
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.