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'Sheer' Genius: Types of Translucent Drapery Fabrics Explained

Posted by LO on 3/18/2019 to Pipe and Drape
voile vs chiffon drapery

When you're decorating for your wedding or are planning a special event, no one can argue that choosing drapery is a top priority. But if you're going for a sheer look, you might not know which types of drapes will fit your needs -- or even how to tell the difference between all your available options. While the variations between these fabrics may be on the subtle side, learning to recognize the main characteristics of each can allow you to find just the right kind of sheer wall and ceiling drapes for one of the 2.4 million weddings that take place in the average year, as well as for birthdays and other special occasions.

Voile

Voile drapes are very lightweight and were traditionally made from cotton, though as this fabric gained popularity and required more frequent use, you’ll now find Voile made from other materials, such as polyester, silk, or rayon. They can be sheer enough to let an ample amount of light through, while some versions can allow for a greater amount of opaqueness. This drapery is elegant and surprisingly easy to clean, both of which are huge bonuses for decorative purposes. With voile vs chiffon drapery (and other kinds of fabrics), voile has a much more significant width (typically, 118 inches) and has a soft weave.

Chiffon

When comparing voile vs. chiffon, chiffon shares a lot of the same traits. It's soft, lightweight, and finely woven. However, it has less body than other types of sheer fabrics, meaning it's a bit more limited in terms of what it can be used for in the drapery department. It's made from silk or other manmade fibers (like polyester), which can impact this fabric's durability and price quite a bit.

Organza

Although organza is also lightweight and sheer, it's generally stiffer with more of a matte finish. It has a good amount of body to it, which makes it more well-suited for ceiling drapery compared to chiffon (though Voile remains our recommendation for ceiling draping). It can also be more prone to wrinkling, which is something to consider in your choice for translucent fabrics.


In some cases, you may consider fabrics outside the organza vs. voile vs. chiffon drapery debate. There are actually poly silks and poly satin drapes, organzas, and tulles that can provide some sheer or semi-sheer visuals for your upcoming event. However, the three types of fabrics outlined above are generally the most common translucent drapery options you're likely to find. If you need further guidance on which types of drapery fabrics will work best for the design you have in mind, please contact us today for assistance.

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