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A Comprehensive Fabric Guide: What is Crepe Fabric?

“Crepe” and “crepe fabric?” When you first encounter this type of fabric, do you find it sounds delicious? Why does this fabric share its name with food? What does it look like and what is it used for? Join us on today’s exploration journey as we become acquainted with crepe fabric.

What is Crepe Fabric?

Crepe fabric derives its name from the French word “crepe,” meaning wrinkled or crisp. The fabric’s surface is adorned with subtle folds or a pebbled texture, similar to what you may have seen on crepes. Crepe fabric is crafted using unique weaving or knitting techniques, providing a wide range of material choices and diverse applications.

Crepe fabric exhibits a three-dimensional texture and excellent drape, giving it a refined and attractive appearance. These qualities made it a popular option for mourning attire during the early Victorian era. 

Black crepe dresses and veils conveyed a sense of solemnity and respect. However, today the association between crepe and mourning attire has diminished, and it is typically used for formal occasions.

Where Does Crepe Fabric Originate From?

Crepe fabric boasts a long history, although its precise origins remain unclear. What we do know is that multiple ancient civilizations, including China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, independently developed similar textiles resembling crepe fabric.

Chinese crepe fabric has a rich history that spans hundreds of years, with silk being the primary material used in its creation. This is closely tied to China’s status as the birthplace of silk.

However, the modern crepe fabric we are discussing today is believed to have gained popularity in late 19th-century Europe when manufacturers pioneered new weaving techniques to produce crepe fabrics with a pebbled texture.

What is Crepe Fabric Made of?

When it comes to creating crepe fabric, you have a choice between natural fibers and synthetic fibers.

Traditionally, crepe fabric was primarily crafted from silk or wool materials. However, nowadays, advancements in textile technology have made it possible to produce crepe fabric using synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon.

Natural fiber crepe fabric offers a luxurious quality but often comes with a higher cost. Synthetic fiber crepe fabric is easier to care for and highly durable. You can select your crepe fabric based on your specific needs.

But there’s more! You also have additional options, such as blends of natural and synthetic fibers in crepe fabric. These blends combine the finest qualities of both fibers, resulting in enhanced performance and results.

How is Crepe Fabric Made?

The unique texture of crepe fabric is a result of its specialized manufacturing process. Let’s examine it in two scenarios:

The surface of woven crepe fabrics is achieved through the utilization of high-twist yarns and weaving. The yarn is tightly twisted using either an “S” or “Z” twist, resulting in a denser texture compared to regular yarns. This imparts tension to the fabric, resulting in a pleated and textured appearance.

Knitted crepe fabric creates its wrinkled effect by adjusting the tension on the knitting machine. The yarn is stretched and relaxed during the fabric-making process. This uneven tension to the formation of a crepe-like surface texture.

The crepe fabric is produced, it goes through additional processing and treatment based on your specific needs. For instance, it can be dyed. However, due to the textured surface of crepe fabric, uneven dyeing can occur. To improve dye penetration and achieve more uniform coloration, the fabric can undergo pre-treatment.

Features of Crepe Fabric

Since crepe fabric can be made from different materials, it can be challenging to generalize its characteristics. However, let’s explore the common traits to consider when purchasing the fabric. Let’s see if they align with your requirements.

  • Distinctive appearance: Crepe fabric features a noticeable wrinkled surface that adds depth and texture, making it visually captivating for any purpose.
  • Flowing drape: Crepe fabric has a smooth drape that enhances its beauty. It moves gracefully and exudes an elegant allure.
  • Lightweight: Crepe fabric is typically lightweight and breathable, making it well-suited for warmer weather conditions.
  • Wrinkle-resistant: The inherent wrinkles in crepe fabric make additional creases less noticeable. This makes lightweight crepe an excellent choice for everyday wear or travel.
  • Versatility: Crepe fabric exhibits remarkable versatility, effortlessly transitioning between casual and formal occasions. Moreover, the diverse materials of crepe fabric can accommodate various project designs or applications you have in mind.

Types of Crepe Fabric

If you are about to start a project involving crepe fabric or are interested in trying out crepe fabric products, the information below will be helpful. It will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed when it’s time to make choices.

  • Aerophane: Aerophane is a lightweight fabric with a transparent texture and exquisite appearance. It has a similar feel to gauze but is renowned for its ethereal and flowing qualities. This fabric was popular in the 19th century but is no longer produced.
  • Crepe De Chine: Also known as Chinese crepe, crepe de chine originated in China and is typically made from silk. It boasts a lightweight and delicate texture, as well as a luxurious appearance.
  • Crepeline: Crepeline fabric is extremely lightweight and often used in textile restoration, demonstrating its excellent and refined quality. It features a slightly glossy surface and an elegant appearance.
  • Canton Crepe: Canton crepe, originating from Guangdong, is heavier in weight and has a more rigid drape, providing greater durability. It’s suitable for creating designs that require a higher level of structure and shape.
  • Crepon: Crepon fabric also known as crinkle fabric, has a surface with straight, striped wrinkles, offering a unique and distinctive appearance with a soft luster. It’s characterized by its thin, lightweight, and soft qualities, providing a cool sensation.
  • Crepe Charmeuse: Crepe Charmeuse exhibits a noticeable difference between its two sides. One side displays a subtle crepe texture, while the other side showcases a smoother and glossier satin finish. The fabric has a fine and resilient texture but is prone to pilling after friction.
  • Plissé Crepe: Plissé crepe is a lightweight fabric with distinct pleats on the surface, created using special finishing techniques such as chemical processes. It provides a rich tactile experience and unique visual appeal.
  • Scuba Crepe: Scuba crepe is a fabric created using double-layer knitting technology, often made from a synthetic blend of polyester and spandex. It is known for its remarkable wrinkle resistance, durability, elasticity, and shape retention. 
  • Bubble Crepe: Bubble crepe fabric can be woven or knitted and is available in different fiber options. It features a lightweight texture and provides excellent breathability and comfort. It exhibits exceptional performance in applications that require a lightweight fabric.

Crepe fabric can also be categorized based on different materials. Here, we will introduce the four most common types: silk crepe fabric, cotton crepe fabric, wool crepe fabric, and polyester crepe fabric.

  • Silk crepe fabric

Silk crepe fabric is crafted from silk fibers, resulting in a smooth and glossy surface with excellent draping qualities. It has a luxurious and elegant appearance, making it a popular choice for fashionable clothing.

Silk crepe fabric also comes in various variations, including Silk CDC, Silk Stretch Crepe, Silk Silk Guan Le Crepe, Silk Ghost Crepe, Silk Jianhong Crepe, Silk Crinkle Crepe, and more.

  • Cotton crepe fabric

Cotton crepe fabric is made from high-quality cotton yarn, retaining the remarkable characteristics of cotton. It exhibits excellent moisture absorption, breathability, and a gentle touch against the skin. This type of fabric is commonly used in the production of various clothing items and household textiles.

  • Wool crepe fabric

Wool crepe fabric is produced using special weaving techniques with wool fibers. It provides good insulation and has a soft texture, making it ideal for colder weather. This fabric is available in different weights and thicknesses, ensuring versatility in design applications.

  • Polyester crepe fabric

Polyester crepe fabric is a synthetic fabric known for its durability. It is resistant to wrinkles, easy to care for, and drapes well. Compared to natural fiber crepe fabrics, polyester crepe fabric is more cost-effective. It is commonly utilized in the creation of everyday clothing, accessories, and home decorations.

What is Crepe Fabric Used for?

As a versatile fabric, crepe fabric finds applications in various areas. Here are some of its ideal uses:

  • Apparel: Everyday clothing items like shirts, dresses, jackets, tops, underwear, pajamas, camisoles, as well as formal attire such as bridal gowns and evening dresses.
  • Accessories: Scarves, shawls, bow ties, pocket squares, and more.
  • Home decor: Curtains, draperies, pillow covers, and other decorative items.

How to Wash Crepe Fabric?

If you already own crepe fabric products, understanding how to properly clean them becomes an important consideration for maintaining their beauty and natural characteristics over time.

  1. Check the care label since different materials have varying care requirements.
  2. Hand washing with a mild detergent is recommended to prevent damage, although machine washing can be used when necessary.
  3. Wash the fabric in cold water to effectively prevent any damage to the crepe texture.
  4. If machine washing, turn your crepe garments inside out and place them in a laundry bag. Opt for a gentle cycle.
  5. After washing, remove excess moisture from the crepe fabric and lay it flat to air dry naturally.

Can You Iron Crepe Fabric?

Yes, crepe fabric can generally be ironed. However, it is crucial to follow the instructions on the care label. If ironing is not recommended for certain crepe fabrics, it’s best to avoid it.

When ironing crepe fabric, use a low heat setting and a pressing cloth to protect the fabric. Iron using regular ironing techniques, making sure not to linger in one spot for too long. Allow the fabric to cool down before storing. If you’re unsure about the appropriate ironing temperature, test it on a small inconspicuous area first.


Is crepe fabric stretchy?

Generally, crepe fabric has limited elasticity. However, you can seek out stretch crepe fabric to achieve the desired stretch. By incorporating elastic fibers into the fabric, it retains the distinctive crepe texture and provides flexibility, making it suitable for active wear.

Does crepe fabric shrink?

Synthetic crepe fabrics typically resist shrinking, but natural fiber crepe fabrics like silk or cotton may shrink if not properly cared for, usually at a rate of 5% to 8%. Therefore, it’s important to follow the care instructions to maintain crepe fabric.

Can you dye crepe fabric?

Dyeing crepe fabric is part of the finishing process after production and can be customized to your preferences. However, compared to smooth fabrics, the surface texture of crepe fabric may result in variations in color intensity. It’s crucial to use appropriate dye types and techniques to ensure the desired dyeing effect.

How to sew crepe fabric?

Crepe fabric is prone to fraying, requiring extra care when sewing. Begin by pre-shrinking the fabric before sewing. Use sharp, fine needles and matching thread color. You can also employ fine pins to fix the fabric. Support it with interfacing while sewing to prevent distortion. Using a longer stitch length and finished edges can make the crepe more beautiful.

Is crepe fabric suitable for summer?

Yes, crepe fabric is lightweight, breathable, and drapes gracefully. It promotes air circulation, keeping the body cool and comfortable. However, heavier crepe fabrics or those made from synthetic materials have relatively poorer breathability and may not be as suitable for high temperatures. Therefore, when selecting crepe fabric for summer, consider its weight and composition.


The popularity of crepe fabric in the fashion industry is due to its distinctive texture. Do you have any creative ideas for working with crepe fabric? As a professional supplier of silk fabrics, we offer a variety of silk crepe fabrics, including silk crepe de chine, stretch silk crepe, and more. Alternatively, if you’d like to save time and effort, you can customize Silk CDC scarves at Sinosilk. Don’t hesitate to contact us now and get started!

More Resources:

What is Silk – Source: Sinosilk

What is Chiffon Silk – Source: Sinosilk

What is Georgette Fabric – Source: Sinosilk

Types of Sheer Fabric – Source: Sinosilk

Types of Silk Fabric – Source: Sinosilk

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