Voile is a thin, lightweight, and somewhat see through plain weave fabric. It feels very soft as it is made of fine, combed yarns but has a slight crisp feel because of its tight weave. It also has a slight luster.
Voile is usually made of cotton fibers but you can also find linen voile and silk voile. Polyester voile fabric is another variety.
Voile as a dressmaking fabric
The somewhat transparent nature makes it suitable for a variety of purposes – sheer curtains, baby clothes, drapey tops, and dresses. Dresses made of floral patterned voile fabric are very pretty.
Voile was once used to make thin veils hence the similar name (In French the word Voile means ‘to wear veil’) – it is because of its semi-sheer nature that it is still used to make veils – light shines through the fabric without it being completely transparent. Delicate embroidery looks beautiful on voile.
Cotton voile is very breathable and for this reason, it is a very good fabric to make kids’ tops and other clothes. Another reason is that embroidery, trims, and other embellishments like smocking, shirring, pintucks, etc can look wonderful on the fabric. Printed voile can be used to make very pretty sundresses.
Swiss Voile is a very soft dressmaking voile fabric which is very popular. It can be made of polyester fibers or cotton. Polyester voile has a very good drape, is slightly crisp, available in bright colors and prints and is comparatively inexpensive.
Polyester voile is more see through than cotton voile. Plain voile is more trasnparent than printed voile.
Voile fabric as lining fabric
You can use Voile fabric as a very nice lining when you need just a thin backing without sacrificing the feel or the drape. The crispiness of the fabric adds a little crispiness to the outer fabric. But you have to realize that it does not give a total blackout feel
Dressmaking Voile fabric can be costly but there is a thin voile cotton fabric which is very inexpensive. It may have a lesser thread count. You can use it as a backing fabric for a variety of uses.
Sewing with Voile
As Voile is a fine and almost delicate fabric you will have to be slightly more careful when sewing it than you would when you sew with other cotton fabrics. You will have to use a thinner needle – you will be usually using a 14 size needle but for a voile fabric you will getter better results if you use an 11 size needle.
Other than this aspect you can treat the fabric as you would any other cotton fabric. I mean you have to prewash the fabric before sewing to prevent shrinkage to which natural fabrics are prone to. Edges fray as would any other fabric, so you have to finish the edges and as it is slightly see-through you can use a french seam inside. French seam gives a natural folded look inside which hides the cut edges neatly.
Polyester voile need not be prewashed.
As for interfacing, You can use voile fabric itself as the interfacing – this will not change its hand or its drape. Other interfacings may change the feel of the fabric. If absolutely necessary, use very thin fusible interfacing.
It is better to hand wash voile fabric (even the synthetic voile) because of its thin nature. The threads can snag and the smooth surface can be marred by careless washing.