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What is Voile?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Voile is a lightweight, sheer fabric used for clothing and curtains. The name is the French word for "veil" and the well-draping fabric can be, and has been, used to make wedding veils. Silk, rayon and cotton are the three main varieties, but lace fabric also exists.

Lace made of voile is a hand cut, and may be white or beige or dyed in many different colors. It has open spaces cut out in between the lace fabric. This lace is a type of cotton voile that is popular for table cloths and fabrics sold by the bolt. Some has rich embroidery accents, is it often imported from Africa.

Silk cocoons. Voile fabric made from silk can be difficult to work with.
Silk cocoons. Voile fabric made from silk can be difficult to work with.

Cotton voile is used to make lingerie, baby clothes, blouses and skirts. It is also popular for making romantic sheer drapes that pool on the floor. It looks very much like gauze and is summer weight and breezy. Some tops made of this fabric, such as some poet's blouses, feature voile lace as decorative accents.

Silk voile is the most difficult type to cut and work with as it is slippery in texture. It is also very luxurious and is also known as silk chiffon. A sheer floral print jacket to wear over a sleeveless top or dress is a classic and popular piece of clothing to sew from silk material.

Voile is a popular wedding veil fabric.
Voile is a popular wedding veil fabric.

Rayon voile is very different from silk as it has a crepe-like texture. Crinkled rayon material is a popular and practical choice for sewing a travel wardrobe. Sarongs and pareos, or rectangular pieces of fabric gathered at the waist for swimsuit cover-ups, are common travel uses for the fabric.

Sometimes polyester is added to voile such as for some types of curtains. Most curtains made of this material are either pure cotton or a cotton polyester blend. No matter what type is used for clothing or for table cloths or curtains, it still always drapes well.

Discussion Comments


@Rotergirl-- Ah, rayon voile is nice. I have a rayon shawl as well. The best part about it is that it's thin and it breathes. So I don't feel suffocated when I use it.

I like rayon voile blouses and tops too, but the quality must be nice. I've had voile blouses where the voile is just too rough to the touch. Voile needs to feel soft and comfortable, otherwise there is no point.


@donasmrs-- Well I think that they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Cotton is very easy to clean and is durable but it needs to be ironed and maintained to look nice. Silk looks lovely, but it's difficult to clean. Synthetic voile is probably the best option for people who want something that's both easy to clean and that will also look nice. For example, if you're shopping for voile curtains, voile made of synthetic materials often does not require ironing and will hold up to washing fairly well. These also look very nice with a wide range of designs. Some synthetic materials can even mimic better quality, expensive materials like silk.

You should consider these factors when deciding on the voile material that's best for your needs.


Which type of voile is best in terms of maintenance and look? Which is easiest to clean and most durable? Cotton, silk or synthetic materials?


I've only used rayon voile, and it's pretty well behaved. I made a shawl/scarf combo to wear overseas, so I would have something to cover my head and shoulders if we visited a church or synagogue, or other house of worship. It also came in handy to keep my scalp from getting sunburned.

It was no problem to make the shawl. I pretty much just hemmed a big square of the voile all around. It was something like a half-inch hem, and I mitered the corners to turn them. It took about half an hour, once I got my machine set up. I pressed the material and there it was. It really did serve a variety of uses. I will probably make one or two more if I ever go overseas again, and will offer to make them for friends who may go.


Silk voile is a stinker to work with. I helped my cousin make her wedding veil out of some remnant silk voile she found and it was a pain. She wanted a rolled hem and even though she could do it on the machine, it was still very exacting. I helped sew on the lace. I did it by hand, but that voile seemed to go everywhere. It wouldn't be still. It seemed to take a life of its own.

I never was so glad to get a project done as I was when we finally got that veil finished! It was absolutely beautiful, and looked beautiful when worn, but all I could think about was it sliding all over my lap when I was trying to sew on that lace.

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    • Silk cocoons. Voile fabric made from silk can be difficult to work with.
      By: phiseksit
      Silk cocoons. Voile fabric made from silk can be difficult to work with.
    • Voile is a popular wedding veil fabric.
      By: tayindigo
      Voile is a popular wedding veil fabric.
    • Voile is a sheer, flowing fabric.
      By: Soare Cecilia
      Voile is a sheer, flowing fabric.