What is Tulle ? 10 FAQ answered about this beautiful fabric

Answers to questions like what kind of fabric is tulle, what is it used for, which is the softest and best kind of tulle fabric.......

The dreamiest fabric of all, that is Tulle to me. In fabric terms, Tulle is a lightweight, very fine, soft flowy machine-made netting fabric. It is usually made of nylon, though silk, rayon etc. are also used. Tulle has a very delicate, sheer look; it is very smooth and soft; in fact the distinguishing factors of tulle are its fine yarn size and very small hexagonal holes.

tulle fabric

Tulle is available in a variety of colors, even embroidered and you can get it in bolts as wide as 108 inches. The flowy tulle makes for a  most romantic flowy garment making fabric which is easily available.

What is tulle made of?

Originally tulle was made from silk fibers but today tulle fabric is usually made of polyester fibers.

Properties of Tulle

PropertyFeatures of Tulle fabric
Fabric CompositionTypically made from nylon, polyester, or silk.
WeaveFine open hexagonal mesh or net-like structure.
TextureSheer, and delicate.
BreathabilityHighly breathable due to the open mesh structure
Wrinkle ResistanceProne to wrinkles
Fabric weightVery lightweight, airy feel
DurabilityDelicate and may tear or snag easily.
CareHandwashing recommended. Should be ironed at low heat with care.

What are the different types of Tulle?

Silk tulle is the most delicate and softest of all tulle fabrics made of 100% silk but it is expensive and rare. English silk tulle and French silk tulle are two slightly different options. Italian silk tulle is a coarser tulle than Italian or English tulle. Silk tulle is the softest and flowy of all tulle fabrics but not pouffy. And it is also very fragile, so handle with care.

Bridal illusion/Illusion tulleA polyester- nylon blend or Nylon tulle used to make wedding veils. It drapes beautifully. And is very flimsy. All bridal illusion is not the same – depends on the make. It is a cost effective option to using silk tulle for bridal veils.

Nylon tulle is the one you will find readily available at cheap prices. 

Polyester tulle is mostly used for crafting purposes as it is slightly stiffer.

English Tulle is a tulle made of 100% cotton with a hexagonal weave. It is heavier and stiffer than the nylon or polyester tulles. It is a durable tulle.

Stretch illusion has some spandex/elastane blended with it . It is a great fabric for dresses, lining etc.

Glimmer Illusion is a shiny tulle fabirc. It is also known as sparkle illusion. This tulle is slightly stiffer than bridal illusion.

All tulle fabrics are not the same. Tulle fabrics are available in different yarn weights and hole sizes and can range from sheer to opaque, so when buying tulle it is necessary to get a feel of it in your hand to know it. Some may have more open holes making it more see through. Some may have a more crisp hand due to sizing added to it.

The super soft super delicate Silk tulle is used mostly for bridal purposes, though illusion tulle is used equally. Illusion tulle holds a better a shape than silk tulle, so some designers even prefer it. Illusion tulle has very fine, diamond-shaped holes.

Nylon tulle vs polyester tulle – which is better?

Nylon tulle is softer and more lightweight ; it is more used for wedding purposes (make wedding veils). It has a good stretch and is incredibly soft. Polyester tulle is usually the tulle used for craft purposes – make tulle bows.

So, Is Tulle & Netting the same ? Difference between tulle and netting

Netting is a crisp fabric but tulle is super soft and smooth. Tulle has a finer texture than netting. Netting is coarser with larger holes. That is the difference. Both are meshes with open weave construction and are lightweight but the hand of the fabric and the drape are different among netting and tulle. Net is best used for crafting purposes and to give a structure as it is stiffer.

English tulle is also called English netting in shops.

Crinoline fabric vs tulle

Many people think crinoline is the same as tulle; no, they are not the same. Crinoline and tulle are both open weave fabrics with holes, but the difference is in the feel of the materials. Crinoline is a stiff material which is usually used inside a garment. It gives volume to the garment from the inside. Crinoline is used as a lining or underskirt/underlayer – a perfect material to make a skirt pouffy. Tulle is a very soft material and it is a luxurious looking material which is usually added to the outside of the garment.

What are the uses of Tulle

A girl in a wedding veil made of tulle fabric.

Tulle is used to make bridal veils ( The fabric is even called bridal veiling in some shops), tutus, bridal gowns, fine lingerie, occasion wear, couture garments, skirts etc. It is also used for party favors, floral arrangements, craft projects, home decoration projects. In crafting tulle is used in Doll making, Hat, making pew bows, pom poms, fabric flowers, and they are also tied over balloons and made into bows and tied over chairs for parties.

Tutus cannot be imagined without tulle fabric. You can add tulle to your dresses as sleeves, collars etc as it is sheer but at the same time covering. An illusion neckline is one in which this fabric is added as a yoke above the bodice.

Tulle is used a lot as lining under dresses/gowns. A medium weight tulle is used in many layers under gowns to make them stand out a bit. You can also use this material as a lining for lace and other loosely woven fabric to give a little support but at the same time remain invisible. You can use flesh-colored tulle fabric for giving the illusion of having no lining at all. It is also used under beaded/ sequin mesh fabric to give them more stability.

tulle material used to make a skirt of a gown

Usually on gowns and skirts tulle is used as an overlay. For kids dresses a tulle layer with flower petals trapped in between over a satin skirt was all the rage a short while back.

For weddings and occasion-wear light colored tulle is used – like white or offwhite, peach etc.

How to sew with Tulle?

Sewing with Tulle is not as horrible as it may seem despite its open weave structure. If you have problems use paper (tissue paper) under the stitching lines when sewing seams and go slow.

The real problem you will encounter is in transferring patterns or marking it. The holes make it difficult to use chalk etc. You will have to use paper patterns and cut it together. Use a Rotary cutter to cut Tulle on top of a self healing mat, for more accuracy (ie, if you have control over the cutter).

Use polyester thread to sew tulle – you need a strong thread to sew this fabric.

As Tulle does not fray at the edges, you can forgo the finishing of edges but you should be aware that the seam edges will be visible through the see-through fabric. Lapped seams or even french seams work very well with tulle. Or you can cut the seam allowance very close to the seam stitching and then finish the edge with a close zig-zag stitch (2.0 length, 1.5 width)

If you are using stretch tulle use a small zigzag stitch (2.0 length, 1.5 width) so that the stitching will also stretch with the fabric.

Tulle may stretch more on the crosswise direction than the lengthwise grain.

How to hem Tulle?

As tulle doesnot fray you can leave tulle edges as it is . But there are many other ways to sew the hems; You can use a ribbon on the edge for a decorative touch, using cord sewn along the edge with a zig zag stitch, using the hemmer foot to roll the edge.

How to line Tulle garments?

When making a garment with a transparent fabric you will want to line it – with tulle you should be using the best fabric as lining as it will be visible through the fabric. A soft and flowy good quality polyester  or satin fabric is a good choice.

Can you wash Tulle in the washing machine?

No, Tulle is strictly hand wash or dry clean, if you want to keeps its soft dreamy appearance. A tumble in the washing machine will damage its fine fibers and it will look different.

Does tulle shrink ?

If your tulle is made of synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon) it is resistant to shrinking unless you treat it with heat. Synthetic tulle doesnot shrink in the wash. But if your tulle is made of silk, it may shrink.

How to press or iron Tulle?

Ironing Tulle fabric is trouble with a capital T as excess heat can melt tulle very fast. Remember they are made of nylon or silk or rayon fibers so be careful with the iron. If you really have to iron tulle use the lowest heat setting (nylon) and keep the iron moving. Stopping in one place may make that place overheat and your tulle may melt.

A professional dry cleaning service can take care of a badly wrinkled tulle. Or hang the tulle fabric in the bathroom just after the shower. The steam in the bathroom will automatically iron out all the wrinkles without any fear of burning. Just smooth over the tulle with your hands as it is hanging if you want to help.

How to embroider on tulle?

soft tulle fabric with embroidery

Tulle is the prettiest with embroidery. But as it is a fine mesh you have to be very careful about not damaging the fibers. You can use a water-soluble stabilizer that will dissolve in water and disappear under your embroidery. They will leave only your stitches behind when you are finished with it. Cut small piece (enough to cover the embroidery) and pin them to either side of the area of tulle you wish to stitch. Do the work on this.

One Tulle trivia you probably don’t know 

Did you know that ‘Tulle’ is a city in France. It seems that is where tulle fabric originated. Surprise!

In fact, even today tulle from France is the best of all tulle you can get. Even the English Princess Kate Middleton used French tulle for her wedding dress – underskirt and veil  was  made of silk tulle ( designed by the French fashion house Givenchy) 

Embed from Getty Images

Which are some fabrics similar to tulle?

Openweave fabrics like lace, mesh, crinoline, and sheer fabrics like organza and organcy are fabrics similar to tulle.

Difference between Mesh and Tulle.

Mesh is usually made of synthetic fibers and it is denser and has large holes. It is used in athletic wear. Tulle in comparison is finer and has less stretch than mesh.

Difference between Tulle and Organza.

Organza is a smoother fabric than Tulle. It is not open weave, ie. no visible holes. Tulle is more pliable than the crispier organza. Organza can be used interchangeably with tulle because both are sheer fabrics, but tulle is more see through.

Reference : More on Tulle here

Related posts : Make a tulle skirt

How to sew a tulle skirt

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

1 thought on “What is Tulle ? 10 FAQ answered about this beautiful fabric”

  1. I was heartened by the info about Opaque Tulle…..except it’s nowhere to be found.
    I needed 50 yards , any body have a hint where to look? I prefer were wide bolts 84-96″

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