11 Types of Sheer Fabric And Names (Helpful Guide and Tips)

All transparent fabrics are sheer fabrics but not all sheer fabrics are transparent. usually, while both fabrics appear on the same list, sheers are more semi-transparent than clear see-through. But what is a little color when you can still see through the sheer fabric

There are two main types of sheer fabrics, those made from silk and come from China, and those made from cotton and come from Egypt. But that doesn’t mean there are not other types of sheer materials. You still have your synthetic and in-between fabric types.

To learn more about sheer fabrics just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about. There will be familiar names on this list as both transparent and sheers are under the same category.

What Kind of Fabric is Sheer?

To qualify for this category, the fabric basically has to be see-through. In other words, the material is so thin, that everyone can see what is underneath. The fabrics included in sheer, along with sheer, are transparent and see-through materials.

This material does not hide your body nor does it protect your body from cold weather. It is best worn in the summer or the hotter days of Spring and Fall or as lingerie or sleepwear.

This particular style of fabric is made from silk, cotton, nylon, or rayon and is very lightweight. Their lightweight allows them to be paired with regular fabrics giving you numerous fashion options and creative design outlets.

The key to understanding this fabric is that not all sheers are classified as see-through or transparent. These fabrics come in a few colors like ivory, cream, different shades of white and black or gray.

Each color will have its own see-through quality meaning that some colors may hide more than other ones do. Finding the right color for your next sewing project won't be too hard as your selection may be limited to what the stores have in stock.

Is Sheer Fabric Transparent or Translucent?


This is the unique aspect of this category. All transparent and translucent materials are considered sheer but not all sheer fabrics are considered to be transparent or translucent.

In other words, this category has several levels to it and the sheer label is placed on those fabrics that you can still see-through even though that view is made fuzzier by the fabric type.

The transparent or translucent materials hide absolutely nothing while sheer fabrics simply make what is underneath a little harder to see. You get all the details with the former fabrics but those details are not so crystal clear with the latter.

The way to tell the difference between these fabrics is to take a flashlight and place it on one side of the fabric and you on the other side and turn the light on. How much light that gets through will tell you if the material is translucent, sheer, or transparent.

Then you can look at what is called the denier. The lower the denier, the more transparent the fabric. Transparent fabrics have a denier rating of about 3 while stockings may have a denier of 15.

A 30 denier is a little harder to see through while 100 means you are looking at a regular fabric that you can’t see through at all.

Is Polyester a Sheer?

It can be. Polyester fibers can be woven into different weight categories and sheer is one of those categories it can be woven into. There are numerous types of polyester sheer fabrics and these fabrics share the same names as cotton and silk.

Some of those names are voile, chiffon, and organza. Nylon is a form of polyester and it too can come in a sheer style. Just look at the many nylon stockings that are sold today to prove that statement true.

Like natural fiber sheer fabrics, polyester sheers have different applications. Their main application would be for curtains or drapes. Then you can work them into gowns and formal dresses, fashion accessories, and even tabletop coverings.

Your use of this option will be up to your preference and viewpoint about polyester materials. This may be an inexpensive option to use as polyester does not cost as much as cotton or silk will.

As long as the material is see-through or not opaque, then it will be classified as sheer. The sheerer the material gets, polyester fabrics may be classified as transparent as well.

Types of Sheer Fabric


This category will not only provide a short list of sheer fabrics types, it will rank them in an order that we see they belong in. Your ranking may be different and it may have different criteria like cost. Compare your list with ours and see how close we are:

#1. Silk- chiffon, Organza, Georgette are just some of the fabric styles you can get sheer silk in. When you use silk, your gowns, fashion accessories and curtains have an elegance about them that is hard to beat.

The color, the sheen, and the silky softness make it very difficult to top silk even when synthetic fibers are made to mimic its natural beauty. The only drawback to silk sheers is how to care for them. Silk is already a delicate material and sheers only make that nature worse, not better.

#2. Cotton- this fabric is affordable, popular, and usually easy to work with. It may not be as chic as silk but it certainly adds to your comfort when you wear sheer materials. It is soft, durable, and not as delicate as silk is.

Organdie, Voile, and Gauze are just 3 of the many sheer fabrics this fiber can be woven into. The drape can be excellent and some styles would be considered free-flowing meaning you have lots of room to move during your event. Care should not be as big a problem as it is with silk.

#3. Polyester- while we mentioned that sheer fabrics are limited in their color options, polyester seems to be the exception to the rule. We have seen some examples of some rich colors this fabric can come in.

While it is cheaper than the other types, it does have an artificial feel to it. Yet it is durable, resists many laundry ills, and usually not that hard to care for. This sheer fabric can be used for every sheer fabric the natural fibers can be turned into. You name it and it can be made in polyester

#4. Rayon- the in-between category fabrics are not as numerous as the other categories but they still can make a grand contribution to your wardrobe and creative nature. These sheers carry the best of both worlds so you are not missing out on drape, breathability, and other key characteristics.

The drawback to this material is that it may be as delicate as silk and caring for it can be a bit frustrating at times.

#5. Nylon- while this material is made from the same petroleum products as polyester, it is often listed independently from polyester when talking about sheer fabrics. Nylon can be used in Organdie, Organza, Tulle, and net so it does not have as wide of a reach as polyester does.

Nylon should be as easy to care for as polyester is and it is a durable fabric that should hold up for some time under normal use.

Complete Sheer Fabric Names List

There are probably more sheer fabrics than we can list here. The following chart will give you the names of the sheer fabrics, what fibers are used to make them, and some of their characteristics.

Fabric name Fibers used Characteristics
Batiste cotton, silk, polyester good drape, great luster
Organza silk, nylon, polyester crisp, stiff, airy, smooth & can wrinkle
Organdie cotton & nylon wrinkles easily but firm and stiff
Chiffon silk & polyester drapes well, very flowing and soft
Georgette silk & polyester dull look, grainy but durable and a billowing type drape
Gauze cotton, silk, wool & polyester loose weave, thin but durable and stiff
Voile cotton, linen, silk, polyester & rayon a delicate material that is soft and free flowing
Muslin cotton, hemp & polyester flexible, thin yet soft
Lace silk, cotton, viscose, rayon, polyester & nylon very drapable, flowing, smooth and soft
Tulle & net silk, cotton, viscose, rayon, nylon & polyester a silky feel that is soft but drapable although stiff
Eyelet & perforated fabrics silk, cotton, viscose, rayon, nylon & polyester same as Tulle

** thin knits, drapery materials, will be made from the fibers listed above. We did not include clear plastic although it is a sheer material and made from petroleum products. There are fine cotton lawns that are considered sheer materials as well.

Sheer Fabric Texture


The texture of the different materials will depend on the fibers they are made from. Silk provides that unique silky and soft feel that only it can provide. Rayon tries to mimic its texture but falls a little short as it is hard to beat the texture of natural fibers.

Although Rayon and viscose can be soft and smooth, artificial fibers just don’t have what it takes to beat natural ones. Cotton is usually soft, smooth, and flexible as well as being able to be stiff. The texture of these fabrics will depend on the weave style.

Nylon and polyester can feel smooth, drape well as well as be made into a soft fabric. Unfortunately, these fibers do not get as soft as the natural ones and you may walk away from the fabric with an artificial experience after touching it.

Nylon sheers feel good against the body and are good additions to any athletes work out regime as it helps keep sweat away. The drapes of these fabrics will depend on their weave style. Many have excellent drape so you can move freely without losing any comfort.

How to Make Sheer Fabric Opaque

There are two main and basic methods to make sheer material more opaque. They are not that difficult although the slipperiness of the sheer fabrics may create a lot of frustration as you work.

The first method is layering. You already know how to do that technique. The key is to buy enough yards of the sheer material to get the opaque look you want while making sure the gown or curtains retain their elegant features.

The second may involve a bit more work depending on how many layers you use for the first technique. You can add a lining to the sheer fabric. This method helps you get that sheer look without exposing too much of what is underneath the fabric.

Lining on curtains helps block incoming hot or cold temperatures while blocking the heat or the coolness of the interior from escaping. Also, you can fold sheer fabrics to create that opaque look and keep your modesty and dignity intact.

What is a Sheer Fabric Used For?


While sheer fabrics may not hide very much, they still have some good applications that enhance a home, a gown, or even make it easier for you to keep up your exercise regime.

For the home, you can use sheer curtains to let the light in while keeping nosey neighbor’s eyes off of your privacy. You keep your room looking great while not losing any of the day’s sunlight.

Then sheer materials are great for formal gowns and wedding dresses. Each gown will have its own unique requirement for where you place the sheer fabric pieces. Or you can use these materials, with a layered look, and create an elegant party dress. Sheer materials are not just for formal occasions.

Then to aid your fashion sense and keep you cool, you can use sheer fabrics as stockings or leggings. They work well in tutus and other dancewear apparel. Finally, when you are in a romantic mood, sheer materials are great for nightwear and lingerie.

You look & feel great without running the risk of overheating.

Can You Dye Sheer Fabric?

If you have read our articles on dyeing different products, then you already know about the difficulty of trying to dye polyester and nylon materials. You will also know the reason as the color of those materials are part of the fiber construction process and not added later on.

For silks, rayon, cottons, and linen you should not have a problem with dyeing the fabric. The natural fibers love the new dye colors and accept them without reservation. Your only drawback will be the method you have to use in order to change their colors.

Some of these materials do not react well when hot water is applied. Thankfully, the different dye-making companies have created different types of dyes that use different methods to change the color of natural fibers.

The key is you can’t go from dark to light. You can do the reverse but light-colored dyes do not cover darker colors. Also, make sure you have plenty of time set aside to do this change.

Can You Iron Sheer Fabric?


The answer is a qualified yes. There are sheer materials that cannot be washed but they can be ironed if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. ironing is going to be a delicate and careful operation as the different fibers used will dictate if you can or cannot use your iron on them.

When you are allowed to iron these sheer fabrics, a pressing cloth is an ideal accessory to have on hand. Place the cloth between the iron and the fabric and do not press too heavily.

Cool iron is recommended for some of these materials and when the care label says not to iron, you can still use the steam function on your iron to help get rid of wrinkles.

For Organza you may have to place the fabric over an ironing board or clothes hanger that has rounded edges. This will keep creases away. The setting for most sheer fabrics is silk or a wool setting if you have words on your iron.

If not, go for the coolest settings you can and adjust up a little bit. Don't go too high with the heat.

Can You Bleach Sheer Fabric?

For sheer polyester curtains, it is possible to use a little bleach to get the germs and stains out. The washing machine is the place to do this method and you will need to set the wash cycle to gentle with cool water.

Then you add a capful of your laundry soap and a 1/2 cup of bleach. Do not go more than 1/2 a cup. Let the cycle complete its duties before drying it according to the care label on the curtains.

If your curtains are older or a vintage variety it is best to hand wash them but don't use bleach unless the care instructions say it is okay to do so. Sheers are delicate fabrics and for these items, it is best to follow the manufacturers’ advice and guidelines.

You can try the chlorine bleach alternatives or try to go natural but with sheers, you need to proceed with caution. If you are not sure, you can always take those sheer items to your dry cleaners and let them worry about the problem.

Does Sheer Fabric Fray?


The best way to answer this question is to say that some do and some don’t. Chiffon is notorious for fraying and you really have to be careful when you cut this sheer fabric. How much fraying you get will depend more on the weave style than the fibers used to create the fabric.

A loose weave sheer material will fray a lot faster and easier than a tighter weave will. Then all the stop fraying options you use on other fabrics can be used on sheer materials.

Which method works best will be the result of trial and error. You can try pinking shears, fabric glues or those stop fray products that hold the fibers together. Or you can do a basting stitch, straight stitch, or some other stitch pattern to hold those fibers in place until you have finished the seam or hem.

Can You Hem Sheer Fabric?

Yes, you can, and how you do it can be one of many different ways hemming is done. In other words, it is a lot like hemming regular fabrics only with a lot more frustration. Here is one method you can try:

  • 1. gather your tools. This will be a medium-weight cotton thread, a sharp 70/10 needle, a pair of scissors, and an iron with a steam function.
  • 2. put a basting stitch about a 1/4 inch in from the raw edge. The fold up to that line and press with your iron using the steam function.
  • 3. now run a second basting stitch about 1/8th of an inch from that new folded edge.
  • 4. take your scissors and cut the raw edge away and be as close to that second stitch line as possible.
  • 5. fold again to cover the new raw edge and press.
  • 6. now stitch a new stitch line using a regular stitch length and do it as close to the inside fold as possible.
  • 7. remove any basting stitches still in your fabric.
  • 8. and you are done.

Some Final Words

Sheer fabrics add an element of elegance and sophistication to any room or garment they are placed. Handling them with care is important as is matching the right sheer fabric to the sewing project you are working on.

You have a variety of fibers to choose from and which one you will use will be up to you to decide. They all make great contributions to your clothing or rooms.

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