Crêpe or crape (Anglicized versions of the Fr. crêpe ) is a silk, wool, or polyester fabric with a distinctively crisp, crimped appearance. The term crape typically refers to a form of the fabric associated specifically with mourning, also historically called crespe or crisp. (The word crape is also used as an Anglicized spelling of crêpe (pancake). Thin crêpe is called crêpe de Chine ("Chinese crêpe").
Entry from Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1911)
CRAPE (an anglicized version of the Fr. cr&pc), a silk fabric of a gauzy texture, having a peculiar crisp or crimpy appearance. It is woven of hard spun silk yarn " in the gum " or natural condition.
There are two distinct varieties of the textile: soft, Canton or Oriental crape; and hard or crisped crape. The wavy appearance of Canton crape results from the peculiar manner in which the weft is prepared, the yarn from two bobbins being twisted together in the reverse way. The fabric when woven is smooth and even, having no crepe appearance, but when the gum is subsequently extracted by boiling it at once becomes soft, and the weft, losing its twist, gives the fabric the waved structure which constitutes its distinguishing feature. Canton crapes are used, either white or coloured, for ladies' scarves and shawls, bonnet trimmings, &c.
The Chinese and Japanese excel in the manufacture of soft crapes. The crisp and elastic structure of hard crape is not produced either in the spinning or in the weaving, but is due to processes through which the gauze passes after it is woven. What the details of these processes are is known to only a few manufacturers, who so jealously guard their secret that, in some cases, the different stages in the manufacture are conducted in towns far removed from each other.
Commercially they are distinguished as single, double, three-ply and four-ply crapes, according to the nature of the yarn used in their manufacture. They are almost exclusively dyed black and used in mourning dress, and among Roman Catholic communities for nuns' veils, &c. In Great Britain hard crapes are made at Braintree in Essex, Norwich, Yarmouth, Manchester and Glasgow. The crape formerly made at Norwich was made with a silk warp and worsted weft, and is said to have afterwards degenerated into bombazine. A very successful imitation of real crape is made in Manchester of cotton yarn, and sold under the name of Victoria crape.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Online Etymology Dictionary
- Taylor, Lou (1983 (reprinted 2009)). "Appendix 1: A Selection of Popular Mourning Fabrics". Mourning Dress: A Costume and Social History (2009 ed.). Routledge Revivals. pp. 246–253. ISBN 1135228434.