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SHEER FABRICS


Post 146   by Gautam Shah

Sheer is tactile feeling that is satisfying and delightful. It is a feeling or a state of experience. Sheer fabric is a very fine, gossamer or diaphanous material that does not occlude vision through it. It is an important quality mark for lightness of mass. The word sheer is used to emphasize a state or situation that is extreme or complete, and does not involve any mix-up with anything else (does not involve anything else).

Tent Curtain Pixabay image by Unsplash

In the 1175-1225 period or Middle English word sheer (scīr, scere, shere, schere, shire) (cognate with German schier, old Norse skīr, Gothic skeirs) was used for a clear, free, bright, thin, shiny or water like material. Some of the synonyms are: utter, complete, absolute, total, pure, perfect, downright, out-and-out, thorough, thoroughgoing, through and through, consummate, patent, surpassing, veritable, unqualified, unmitigated, unalloyed, unadulterated, unmixed. 

 
Old Window with curtain Pixabay image by Paul Brennan Winder/USA

A Sheer fabric has three basic qualifications: It is thin or lightweight, It is translucent, and it is very supple. The lightweight features come from the quality of fibre material, its filament or spun thread (denier), the low density construction through knitting or weaving. Its translucency derives from sectional form of the fibre, degree of spinning, massing during spinning and weaving, and minimal or no addition of processing materials like dyeing, sizing, etc. Its suppleness results from the quality of fibre material, the low denier of fibre or filament, and avoidance of massing during spinning and weaving.
 
Sheer curtain with pattern > Pixabay Image by Unsplash

Sheer fabrics from natural fibres such as Silk, have yarns with multiple fibre stands, whereas Cotton has several staples entwined during spinning. The natural fibres create a fabric that is dull or with small sheen. Rayons are produced as staples, and so have slight sheen, unless treated differently. Synthetic fibres such as Nylon and Polyesters are filaments or very long staples, and usually with uniform cross sectional shape, and so provide glossy face.

Sheer curtains > Flickr image by Ket

Sheer fabrics are made from very thin threads and have low density construction, through mainly weaving, but sometimes through knitting. Sheer fabrics of netting type have comparatively low gloss due to greater de-fraction of light. Denser weaves have more sheen or shine. The density of a fabric (knitted or woven) is determined by several factors such as sectional form the fibre, degree of spinning, massing during spinning and weaving. The resultant fabrics have various levels of translucency. Sheer fabric of low density weave is supple, but a flimsy cloth.
Occluding the view with sheer fabric > Wikipedia image by TriviaKing (talk)DWS-Montag Zen

Denier is a unit of measurement for fineness of fibres or filaments, as threads, expressed as the weight in grams for 9,000 metres length of yarn. The surface area of a fabric is directly related to the denier. Smaller deniers yield more fibres per unit weight of the material. A micro-fibre is less than 1 denier, fibres for sheer fabrics are finer, just 0.9 denier, in comparison, a human hair is 20 denier.

Fabrics with a high denier measure are bulky, sturdy, durable, but nearly opaque, whereas fabrics with a low denier measure tend to be sheer, soft, and smooth. A fabric, of 3-5 denier is like a clear film, extremely thin. Ultra sheer refers to very light deniers of stockings or pantyhose, usually 10 or less.


Celula Nave "It happens in the body of time, where truth dance" Art installation in Nylon and Polyester Sheer fabric > Wikipedia image by Celula Nave Ernesto Neto (2004)/elefterial1
Sheer fabrics have a crisp to soft feel, depending on the quality of fibres and the density of weave. Fabrics’ coarseness or fineness, are mainly due the techniques of weaving. It is measured in warps or ends per length and in wefts or picks per length. Sheer fabrics include: Silks, Cotton, Rayon, Nylon, Polyesters and other synthetics. The fabric forms are crispy organdy, organza, voile, lawn, georgette. Supple forms include natural silk (unsized), artificial silks, rayons, tulle, netting, gauze, Gossamer, muslin. Soft sheers are difficult to stitch in comparison to crisp sheers. Art Silk or artificial silks are heat and chemically treated, or co-spun with rayon, cotton and silk staples to achieve desired level of feel.

Glow curtains Pixabay image by Pexels
Sheer fabrics are favoured for garments and draperies due to the suppleness (fall, contouring), transparency and low weight. Sheer fabrics are too thin to control incoming sunlight, but cause its de-fraction. As a curtain the sheer fabric allows sunlight to pass through during daylight, while maintaining a level of privacy.
 
Spanish Colonial era House 1780s > Wikipedia Image by Infrogmation of New Orleans

Early glass for windows was a flattened plane from cylinder or a flat cast sheet, but available in small sizes. Flattened glass had crinkles, whereas the cast sheet was unevenly polished. The vision through it was distorted, muddled or frosty. The sheer curtain masked the vision through the window. Sheer curtain fabrics do not offer any insulation against heat or cold, so need additional layer of heavy-opaque fabric curtains. Sheer curtains over bedsteads provide a romantic transparency. Sheer fabrics of low denier and high count weaves have little sound absorption, but higher proportion of gather or creases which add to sound absorption capacity.

Green Hued Sheer curtain > Flickr Image by Jessie Lynn McMains
 

Sheer fabrics for curtaining look best in their natural colours (original colour of the constituent fibre) or very lightly dyed or bleached shades, such as white, off-whites, cream, ivory, shades. Though many base-shades and prints are available. Lighter colours are preferred, due to the greater capacity to defract the light. Colour tinted sheer fabrics were popular to tinge the room with the particular hue. This is no longer needed, as vast varieties of paints and wall finishes with subtle variations of hues are available.


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