What is Foulard?

Malcolm Tatum

Foulard is a lightweight fabric that is created by using a spinning and weaving process to produce plain woven sheeting or twill fabric. Historically, using silk, cotton, or a silk and cotton blend as the base fibers for the finished product produces foulard. This fabric has a high thread count, which means that the weave is very tight, more so than with many types of fabric sheeting. The result is that the texture is smooth and silky, and because of the cotton content, it is still easy to care for and allows the wearer to breathe. The word "foulard" is also the proper name for a silk handkerchief in French.

Some tenniswear is manufactured using foulard fabric.
Some tenniswear is manufactured using foulard fabric.

This fabric is often used in dressmaking, notably in dresses that are meant to be worn in warmer climates. The cotton in the foulard allows air to pass between the threads in the weave, and allows the wearer to take better advantage of any breeze. In many cultures, men’s shirts and slacks are also made of foulard. One of the more popular items of menswear made of this fabric is a lightweight twill suit. Popular in warm climates, the twill suit allows a man to maintain a professional appearance even if the weather is less than comfortable.

Exercise clothing may be made of foulard.
Exercise clothing may be made of foulard.

Sportswear, jogging shorts, and shirts that are meant for use during the summer months are examples of modern uses for foulard. Again, the weave of the woven silk and cotton material allows for efficient circulation of air, resulting in a greater level of comfort for the wearer. In addition, the process for making foulard is so inexpensive that the garments can be sold at competitive prices. The combination of reasonable pricing and the ability to breathe in the clothing makes the use of foulard a natural with such sports as running, tennis, jogging, and biking.

Foulard is also a perfect material to be used in the production of hand painted screens. As a canvas used for hand painting scenes that can then be attached to screens and fitted together to make room dividers, this fabric works very well.

Of course, foulard is the ideal material for scarves and handkerchiefs that help to compliment a number of male and female wardrobes all over the world. In fact, any garment that should be soft and silky to the touch can usually be created using this fabric. As a staple material in a number of different types of clothing, as well as artistic uses, foulard is sure to be part of the landscape for many years to come.

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