Chiffon is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe (high-twist) yarns. The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel.
Early chiffon was made purely from silk. In 1938, however, a nylon version of chiffon was invented, and in 1958 polyester chiffon was invented and became immensely popular due to its resilience and low cost. Under a magnifying glass, chiffon resembles a fine net or mesh which gives it some transparency.
Chiffon is most commonly used in evening wear, especially as an overlay, for giving an elegant and floating appearance to the gown. It is also a popular fabric used in blouses, ribbons, scarves and lingerie. Like other crêpe fabrics, chiffon can be difficult to work with because of its light and slippery texture. Due to this delicate nature, chiffon must be hand washed very gently.
Since chiffon is a light-weight fabric that frays very easily, bound or French seams must be used to stop the fabric from fraying. Chiffon is smoother and more lustrous than the similar fabric georgette.
In African countries, such as Eritrea and Ethiopia, traditional ankle-length gowns are often made of chiffon which comes in many different designs and colours.