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What is Duchesse Satin?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 16, 2024
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An elegant and lustrous fabric, duchesse satin is shiny, heavy, and luxurious. Often used for couture wedding gowns or extravagant home decor, it has been around since ancient China. Silk weavers made this textile with many layers of delicate fibers that created a soft texture with a lot of body and sheen. It is a popular choice for wedding gowns because it drapes well, helping to create full and beautiful skirts.

Satin has a very high thread count, the number of individual threads that crisscross the fabric in a square inch (6.45 square cm). Duchesse satin is usually made from silk fibers, although it can also contain polyester, rayon, or acetate filler. An expensive choice, an interior decorator might choose this material for velvet drape lining, a holiday table runner, or ruffle on a dupioni pillowcase.

In clothing, duchesse satin is used primary for bridal gowns and lingerie. Wedding gowns have been sewn from duchesse satin for centuries, since it was first imported to Europe from Zaytun, China. It accompanies lace, velvet, beading, chiffon, shantung silk, tulle, and organza beautifully. Designers prefer this material because the skirt keeps its full curves, instead of fluttering, as would a thinner fabric.

Different weaves of duchesse satin in a palette of colors allow the modern bride to choose something opulent yet unique. If her budget doesn't allow for 100% silk satin, she can substitute a polyester version. The less expensive "matte" satin might look not as crisp or shiny, yet a properly made gown will be easier to walk in and less likely to wrinkle. White is the most popular color, of course, but less traditional brides might opt for rose red, sophisticated black, or vintage ivory.

Usually, an ankle-length skirt is made of duchesse satin, while the bodice and sleeves are another, more textured material. Different weights of the crisp satin will complement other designs, such as a short skirt, shoulder wrap, or sculpted sleeves. Duchesse satin is so versatile, it can be used to make an Edwardian tea dress or a Renaissance brocade.

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Discussion Comments
By anon979649 — On Nov 28, 2014

@upnorth31: No it won't be too fancy. Depends on how you use it and what goes on it, this is a great fabric!

It's one of our favorite fabrics in our Atelier, and we use it for a simple, basic full skirt, to our limited print skirts to formal evening gowns.

Our customers use the skirt for both casual daily wear attire and semi formal functions. And some have it made for a formal evening dress.

Most of our skirts are made with duchesse satin. Enjoy your fabric hunting.

By upnorth31 — On Mar 24, 2011

I really like the idea of duchesse satin. It sounds so fancy! It sounds like something royalty would wear.

I'm thinking of having an evening dress made out of it, but I'm wondering if it would be considered too fancy if it's not being worn in a wedding. I don't want to look ridiculous!

By elizabeth2 — On Mar 23, 2011

A friend of mine is getting married next year, and she is having a hard time picking out a wedding dress.

I think she would love a dress that had the skirt made out duchesse satin. It sounds very elegant and right up her alley. I think I'm going to suggest this to her. Thanks for the information!

By heath925 — On Mar 21, 2011

I'm wondering where the name for this type of satin came from. It immediately makes me think of historic times, and I can picture an actual duchess wearing a elegant and beautiful floor length dress made of this material.

Is this how the material got it's name? Was it actually common for a duchess to have clothing made from it?

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