By | September 15, 2016
Cotton plissé. Source:

Cotton plissé. The similarity to seersucker is obvious.

Part of the ongoing Antique Fabrics series – although it’s not quite dead, yet!

Plissé is a cotton fabric that has been chemically treated to give it a puckered, crepe-like appearance. In fact, Wikipedia treats it as just yet another of the many varieties of crepe out there. To my eye, it seems a little more ‘wrinkly’ than a typical crepe, but that’s just my opinion.

Often woven with striped pattern, it can be visually similar to seersucker, although seersucker’s texture comes from how the fabric is woven, not how it’s finished. afterwards.

I ran across plissé a lot in the Dover reprint of Gimbel’s 1915 Fashion Catalog, where it seemed a popular choice for blouses and skirts. so I thought it merited a mention here although it’s not common at your typical brick-and-mortar store. My guess is that it was supplanted in popularity by other fabrics that were easier to care for, or cheaper to produce.

I’ve encountered fabric described as plissé on some fabric-vending sites, but there seems to be two schools of thought as to what it should be. On the one side, there’s a cotton / cotton-poly fabric with warp-running ‘puckers’ that, indeed, looks a lot like seersucker. On the other, there’s a pure polyester fabric with a finish that’s much more like tiny little weft-running pleats, and intended for décor use, such as draperies and lampshades, as well as for garments.

Polyester plissé. Source:

Polyester plissé.

Obviously, cotton plissé is something to consider for any early 20th century sewing projects, providing you can find it in period-appropriate colors. It seems to be a popular fabric for kid-friendly wear, so I’ve run across a lot of it in some eye-popping colors. You probably don’t want your post-Gibson-girl skirt to be strewn with something like the image at the bottom of this page…

Cotton plissé starts as low as $5/yard. The polyester equivalent I found ran closer to $15/yard.

Pre-wash your plissé according to its fiber content. Colored cotton should be washed in warm water (cool if you’re feeling cautious) and can be tumbled dry on low heat. Polyester should be washed in cool water and laid flat to dry. A universal needle and all-purpose thread will do for sewing.

The aforementioned eye-popping plissé. Source:

The aforementioned eye-popping plissé.


2 thoughts on “Plissé

  1. crochetdiva1976

    I just spent the last two hours reading and soaking up everything about textiles that you posted and learned more in those two hours, comprehended and actually understood it then I did taking an actual textile course that lasted about six weeks and was not free. You have an amazing gift of writing so that the average layperson can understand. I was only searching about this tissue lame fabric and got caught up reading everything!! Interfacing vs stabilizer??? Who knew??? Organza, chiffon and organdy, tulle, netting and crinoline ohhh my! Go ahead quiz me!! I’m ready!

    ***On a different Note… important question. I inherited about 20 bolts of vintage textiles I’d say 1950-1970 on stored on bolts and came from my great aunt whom was a pretty good little seamstress ( wedding dresses, communions, commissioned crap for rich people, she ran it out of her little basement house shop. All her textiles were stored in a very large fully cedar lined walk in. Closet doesn’t explain it. Was huge, the sq ft was probably 880 I read… complete with shelving all cedar and racks, cedar as well. There was nothing but cedar in there!! There was a dehumidifier/ temp control unit and omg it was even encased in cedar lol. Anywho,
    theres all kinds of cool crap!! However I cannot read most of the labels from the bolts of fabric for identification. Some do say NY fabric blah blah? But I can’t be certain… some I can make out the type.. like crepe… hence finding this post lol… there’s vintage lace in all sorts of colors, even some upholstery fabrics. Some very very noticeably vintage via design and colors and type of textiles. Lol. I’m very intrigued by a couple of bolts that are metallic or iridescence of sorts but not plastic like if that make sense? It feels like expensive stuff for sure. Then there’s the lining fabrics, cotton 1960 70 flower power motifs…etc even shrooms!! The fabric is in good condition as far as I can see but I’m no expert. I unwrapped the first yard off each bolt to check condition and 95% were delicious, no damage from bugs, mold etc. there was a line on each bolt where it wrapped around the bolts like discoloration or I thought dirt at first but it didn’t wipe down. and was stored in a huge walk in cedar closet. She also stored cheaper furs for her clients as well so I know she took great pride in storage but with that being said…. how should I store this fabric now? I do not have the same amenities but I have a craft room… I don’t know what to do, it’s it my closet, on the bolts, wrapped in the special tissue paper for storing textiles, no plastic but sitting on a cheap slated cedar shelf rack. There’s no light in there and I haven’t opened the closet because I don’t know what to do with this. Any suggestions as to
    1) how to store it? On or off the bolt?
    2) help identifying it?
    3) I can’t keep it all so where would i sell it? I do see people piecemeal vintage fabrics on etsy but I’d like to sell it by the bolt not spend all year selling it as I yet another task dealing with 10 pounds of vintage paste / collectibles/ jewelry to go thru ughhh… so yeah lots of work lol. Oh I already donated the newer stuff like bolts of fleece for blankets, that kind of stuff that I thought would be useful to our community (about 20 bolts of misc fleece, cotton, flannel fabric to the Salvation Army directly to the ladies who make the no sew blankets to hand out after service and warm meal they get a blanket to go…..
    so First off, I appreciate the time you took ( granted your still with me? Lol) to read this message and
    2nd, any help or direction you can point me in would be great and very much appreciated!! I can take pics if you need them. Maybe you’ll know the labels or brands! Must are handwritten!

    1. ffcproducer Post author

      Thank you for the kind words! Flatter will get you everywhere. 🙂

      Regarding your newly-acquired fabric stash. I think you should give it to me, immediately. For, um, safekeeping. (JOKE)

      The “shiny but not plastic” fabric might well be lurex – very popular for glittery things, in its day.

      The “NY Fabric” label might refer to the place now known as NY Fashion Center Fabrics, a retailer in NYC. Their site isn’t loading for me as I type this, but there’s been some nasty hacking on the east coast overnight, so I hope the issue clears up, soon.

      Do you feel brave enough to try burn testing your fabric? That will give you some ideas regarding the fabric’s makeup – although the easiest way to learn how to tell the difference between all the fibers (and smells!) is to get some swatches of fabric that you’re CERTAIN of, and burn that, first. It’ll cost you a few dollars, but it will make things easier in the long run if you have experience of how this-is-definitely-polyester burns.

      I strongly suggest you ask to join the Vintage Fabric Buy, Sell, Trade group on Facebook and ask the admin if you can make some “What the heck IS this?” posts, with lots of photographs. I can’t imagine it would be a problem, but ask, first. If your intention is to sell the fabric on, make that clear in your posts and I’m sure folks will fall over themselves to help you identify it – and a group effort would get you answers, faster.

      For selling, I’d sort the fabric into lots by general type – whether that’s color, pattern, or weave (like, all the laces in a group) and sell them that way. 3 – 4 fabrics per lot will reduce the overall number of sales, without making each lot too large or pricey. The BIG factor to keep in mind is shipping cost. Any fabric on a bolt should be unrolled and folded because the shape of a bolt makes it a bear to ship. Weigh your fabrics and use USPS/UPS online tools to figure out how much shipping is going to be, and adjust lot sizes accordingly. Nothing worse than putting five heavy fabrics into a lot and then no-one bids because shipping will be $60 or something.

      OR you could find an estate liquidator and let them take care of it all. The downside is, they’ll take a hefty portion of the selling price as their fee. I’ve heard mixed stories about using estate liquidators, so shop around any services available in your area and ask for references. A liquidator would also store it all while selling.

      As for storage, I suggest you keep it as you received it – on the bolt or folded – and put it wherever it’s going to be dry and safe from incidental damage from cats and/or children. If you have a temperature-controlled storage unit, that would be ideal. Whatever you manage, take steps to protect the fabric from incidental dust – cover it with plain paper, or put it into storage tubs. I use a lot of those flat “under bed” tubs to store flat-folds of fabric. They’re easy to stack and move around, and don’t get too heavy, no matter what they’re stuffed with.

      Good luck!

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