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Tulle is produced using different fabrics, but mainly cotton, silk, polyamide, and polyester. While very soft to somewhat stiffer tulle is mainly used to produce clothing, tougher and harder tulle is used for decorating and in costume production. The fabric is basically slightly stretchy, but it also exists in mixtures with spandex to increase its elasticity.
The name of this fabric comes from the French region of Tulle, where it was produced in the 19th century. Originally, tulle was woven on looms by twirling two warp threads after inserting a weft thread. Compared to the normal plain weave, the weft threads do not lie close to each other, creating an openwork honeycomb pattern.
Over time, machines took over the work of looms, and the bobbin process derived from the manual lace-making technique became the normal method of producing tulle. In the process, two to four different weft thread systems are fed through the vertically running warp threads at an angle. With the help of additional equipment, more complex patterns may be produced in addition to simple honeycomb structures. Today, tulle is predominantly produced on so-called double-rib or ‘rachel’ machines with the help of hook-shaped needles, forming the basic knit.
Tulle normally does not need to have its edges finished, since it doesn’t fray. Seam allowances should nevertheless be cast with an overlock stitch or with a zigzag stitch. A pretty edge finish can be created using a single-colour or patterned bias tape made of fine chiffon, satin, or even cotton. The finer the selected tulle, the finer the needle used to sew it should be (thickness 60 to 90). To keep from injuring the fine threads of very fine, soft tulle, a needle with a rounded point is recommended. The stitch length should be adjusted to the fineness of the fabric (1.5 to 3 mm).