What is Tarlatan Fabric? (And What is Tartalan Used For)

Fabrics have different purposes. That is a good thing as you would not want to be wearing a sheer fabric shirt when trying to do some heavy welding. Tartalan has its unique uses that help make it a popular fabric to sew with.

What is Tarlatan Fabric? This type of fabric is identified with a cheesecloth but it also has printmaking aspects to it. Those aspects include wiping ink off of printing plates. Another key feature is that it is not a tight weave.

To learn all about Tartalan fabric just continue to read our article. We go in-depth to get you all the information you need to know how to use this fabric correctly. A few minutes of your time here may save you hours online later.

What is Tarlatan Fabric


This will depend on who you talk to. One person has stated that Tartalan is a cheesecloth type fabric. And that may be so as it is used to wipe of printer’s ink when the printing plates need a good cleaning.

Its open weave designed is the key strength of this cloth. With that construction, Tartalan could absorb a lot of printer’s ink at one time. The starched nature made it hard to remove the ink once the cloth had absorbed it.

On top of that, the early 19th century sewers used this muslin type fabric top make a lot of costumes. It was also used to make a variety of disposable fabric items that did not have a long shelf life.

The main fabric source for Tartalan is cotton. It is made from 100% woven cotton products to specific specifications to produce a very handy cloth that helps printers out.

Also, it is a fabric that can help stiffen up weaker thinner fabrics and help them stand out more as well as make them a bit more sturdy and durable.

What is Tartalan Used For?


The main purpose of Tartalan is to help the printing industry. Printer’s ink is not an easy to clean ink once it gets on your clothes. Keeping the printing plates clean is essential if a printer wants to have a good printing run.

That is where Tartalan comes in. Its starchy design traps the ink inside and has a hard time letting go of it. That construction has made this fabric very popular among printers. They need to get their printing plates nice and clean for another run or storage and this fabric does the job well.

Also, Tartalan is a good fabric to use when you need to strengthen other garments. The fabric goes underneath the exterior fabric to make sure the outerwear can handle the daily wear and tear with ease.

Old-time costumes were made from Tartalan as the fabric doe snot seem to have a long shelf life when it comes to certain activities. That is why you may see a lot of disposable items made out of this fabric. It is cheap to purchase and easy to sew in place.

Tarlatan Cloth


One of the drawbacks of using Tartalan cloth is that it needs a longer break in time. It takes a lot of work to get it where the fabric is pliable. Some people use a table leg to help them get the job done.

What they do is wrap the Tartalan cloth around the table leg, not all of it but what they need to use at the time, and then pull it back and forth. This will take you a little time to get done and it can be done when you have nothing better to do.

The cloth comes in rolls when they are sold in full bolts. Smaller quantity are folded when they are sold. Then the cost of a roll of Tartalan is only expensive because you have to buy so much of it at one time.

For a regular or stiff 100 yard bolt of the cloth, you can expect to pay only $180 for each style. If you are looking at buying by the yard, then you can expect to pay $2 per yard for the regular version.

The stiff Tartalan is $5 per yard making it more economical to purchase it in the 100 yard bolt form.

How to Use Tarlatan


If the modern world still prized dainty fabrics, Tartalan would be very popular and in constant use. In the 19th century, Tartalan was used with a lot of dainty fabrics to help stiffen them up.

The cloth can also be used as an overlay if you want your sewing project done that way. Also, it can be used as an interface for waistbands and belts. Because of its flexible nature, Tartalan was highly sought after for Halloween costumes.

The cloth was easy to work with as one did not need scissors to cut it. The fabric can be torn by hand. Then it can be layered. Another good characteristic is that you can alter its look by using dirt or paint.

While it is not as luxurious as silk, Tartalan had a 1001 and one uses over the past couple of centuries. Then the versatility of the cloth allowed and allows it to be used for those costumes in plays or shows that need to appear torn, shredded and so on.

The only thing one has to be wary about is that washing this fabric may remove the starch. When the fabric gets dirty, you should take a scrap piece and see what happens when you put it in your washing machine. Just to be on the safe side, you might want several scraps to test all water temperatures.

How to Make Tarlatan


One thing is for certain, you do not want to make this fabric yourself. It is not a very detailed process but it is a difficult one that requires the right amount of ingredients and sophisticated technique.

The reasoning behind those words is that you have to make a grid of cotton thread just to get started making the fabric. Then you apply the starch in the right quantity before attaching the muslin type material to the cotton grid.

The starch gives it is stiffness and its ink removing prowess. Once that is done you wait for it to dry before using it. The difference between making cheesecloth and Tartalan is that the former cloth does not use glue in its construction process.

Cheesecloth is much lighter and more flexible because it does not have a lot of adhesive attach to it. The lack of glue also makes cheesecloth smoother to the touch. Gum arabic is applied to stone by using cheesecloth. Tartalan may be too rough to handle that chore correctly.

This lack of steps in the construction process and the lack of raw materials in Tartalan is possibly one reason why the fabric is so inexpensive in the stores.

Tartalan Substitute


There is a Tartalan substitute. It is called crinoline. Both are made fro cotton raw materials and both need starch to give it their stiff feel. But crinoline was made from a combination of horsehair and cotton or linen.

These materials were then used to help women of the 19th century, and earlier, to create their petticoats, underskirts, and linen. Also, the crinoline was used to create hoop skirts. Some of those hoops were made of steel making the skirt a heavy clothing item to wear.

Once the crinoline styled skirts caught on, every woman in all levels of society wore them. It didn’t matter if they were royalty or paupers. Every woman had to have one or more in their closets.

There were some drawbacks for the women wearing crinoline made skirts. They would get caught in wheels, machinery as well as being taken up by the wind and so on. One of the main drawbacks was very fatal.

These dresses caught fire very easily and a lot of women perished because of this design flaw. Care had to be taken when a woman wore one in public. In the 1940s to 60s crinoline dresses saw a resurgence due to Christian Dior and other designer’s efforts.

Where to Buy Tarlatan Fabric


If you are considering using Tartalan in your costumes or other sewing projects you will not be hard-pressed to find it on sale. Not only does Etsy have some but you should be able to find some through Joann’s.

If not there then a variety of fabric outlets should carry the fabric. For example, Parkin is one online store you can get some great buys from. Takach Press is another location and they sell the fabric in 4 different ways including 2 for regular and 2 for stiff.

If you happen to be reading this while living in Australia, there is a fine store to [pick up the cloth. It is called Torb & Reiner and their price is roughly $35 AUS. Then if you happen to be in London L. Cornelissen & Son has smaller pieces going for 2.5 British Pounds.

Locally Amazon may have what you are looking but they may not call it Tartalan directly. Then if you are feeling adventurous, you can scour the many fabric stores in your city and see what they have to offer.

Their prices will range most likely but at least you won’t have to wait for shipping time of pay high shipping costs.

Tarlatan Fabric Suppliers

If you happen to need a large supply of Tartalan cloth you can look for wholesalers to help you get the quantity you need. Their prices should be better than retail and you should be able to save on large purchases.

One wholesaler is called Mood Designer Fabric. They have a large selection of fabrics and should be able to help you with your order. Just click on their name to get to their website.

Another supplier or wholesaler is Fabric Direct and again just click on their name to reach their website. Finally, there is Stuart Graham Fabrics and their website is not that difficult to reach.

Then if these wholesalers are out of stock or do not carry the cloth, they may know another supplier where you can find some. One honorable mention is Nick of Time Textiles and they seem to be running a sale at the time of this writing.

A good internet search should turn up a few more laces that are located near you. It will depend a lot on the city you live in and how textile friendly it is.

Finding Crinoline Fabric


This may be an easier search than looking directly for Tartalan fabric. That is because crinoline fabric is also called Leno and Tartalan. We say it may be easier as our internet searches were often sidetracked by tartan results.

That can get a little frustrating at times. Amazon has lots of selection for you to look through as do the many wholesalers and retail shops we have already linked to previously.

There is a little difference between the two fabrics so you are not losing anything if you want to Crinoline instead of Tartalan.

Some Final Words

The story behind Tartalan is quite interesting. The fact that it has so many uses makes that story even more interesting to read. Its historical use provides a lot of inspiration on how to use the fabric today even though women do not wear petticoats or hoop skirts anymore.

But you can make those clothing items for some of your dolls in your doll collection. This is a good fabric to use when dressing your dolls in a variety of costumes. Just be careful in how you use it as Tartalan and Crinoline are easy to set on fire.

Also, do not be confused as Tartalin is not a substitute for nor the same as Tartan fabric.

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