The Triumph of Taffeta

You know that I really love a good ribbon and so it’s just as well there are oodles of ribbons out there – different weaves, different fibres, different widths, different patterns, different edging and different colours.

So many oodles in fact that I decided to set myself the task of learning all about the production and history of the different sorts of ribbons. As one of my absolute favourite ribbons is the taffeta ribbon with its beautiful form and style, I decided to start my research with it.

Taffeta makes me think of rustling full skirted ballgowns. A bit like Belle’s iconic yellow ballgown in Beauty and the Beast, an updated version of which is being released this week. Except that I now find out that the Emma Watson/ Belle 2017 ballgown is satin with organza layers ( and no corset because Emma says her Belle is feisty and active and would never wear a corset).

Though they are sometimes mistaken for one another, satin and taffeta are two distinctly different fabrics which makes for two distinctly different ribbons. Both are woven from the silk, acetate or polyester and both share “luxuriousness and luminosity”. But my friends, the difference is all in the weave because if you start with the same threads and weave them differently, you end up with completely different fabrics,

According to e how, “satin is formed by weaving many long filler (over) threads together with widely spaced warp (under) threads, which gives the fabric a smooth, glossy appearance. Taffeta weave, on the other hand, is a plain weave, meaning it has an equal amount of “over” and “under” threads, which produces a crisper, tighter, more textured fabric.”  Who knew?

I also now know that the word taffeta is Persian in origin and means “twisted woven”. Modern taffeta was first woven in Italy and France and then Japan.  Warp printed taffeta or chiné, was mainly made in France from the eighteenth century onwards, is sometimes called “pompadour taffeta” after Madame de Pompadour. Most raw silk taffeta is now produced in India and Pakistan though deluxe taffetas are still woven in France, Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Satin drapes elegantly while taffeta is crisper and holds its shape much more than satin. Which you would know if you had watched nearly every episode of Say Yes to the Dress as I have.

Therefore, a satin ribbon will make for a drapey bow and a taffeta ribbon will make for a bow that holds its shape a bit like a bow made of wire edged ribbon.In honour of taffeta and its equal amount of “over” and “under” threads, I have wrapped with a crisp pink green ombre taffeta ribbon tied in a double bow to create four stand up and standout loops. I think the old world look of the ribbon goes well with the modernness of the kraft paper. It’s elegant and feisty all at the same time. I am sure Emma Watson would approve.


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