Tarlatan

By | May 26, 2016
Modern tarlatan cloth.

Modern tarlatan cloth.

Part of the ‘Antique Fabrics‘ series, this fabric isn’t necessarily extinct, but it was more popular in the past than the present.

AKA Argentine cloth. Tarlatan is a lightweight open-weave fabric, a lot like cheesecloth or cotton gauze, but it’s stiffened with starch. It was used for dainty clothing items in the 19th century, and sometimes as an overlay to another fabric.

According to Wikipedia, it’s still used for cleaning ink off a plate in the intaglio printing process, hence the picture accompanying this entry. Tarlatan is also used like some interfacings, to add body to belts or waistbands in garments. It’s comparable to crinoline in that regard, but it isn’t quite as stiff.

Tarlatan would be fun to use in zombie or ghost costumes – tear it by hand and layer it with or without dirt or paint embellishment. I can also envision it being part of a Mrs. Havisham rig, with her wedding gown all in tatters.

Sewing it would present the same challenges as gauze. Enclose the seam with tissue paper or tear-away stabilizer before running it through your machine. Use a short stitch and consider a zig-zag stitch instead of a straight stitch.

I’d be very careful about washing tarlatan, as the starch finish might come right out when subjected to water. Check with the retailer/look at the bolt information when you pick it up, and test with a scrap before you commit yourself.

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