I was asked recently if I have been seeing a resurgence in the apparel fabric industry – meaning, are some of those really really hard to find fabrics becoming more and more available. I do believe they are, however slowly it might be happening. Case in point: Wool Challis.
Do you know what challis is? I see challis most commonly among the rayon family and then a couple of years ago, I purchased a gorgeous wool challis from a local fabric shop. The lady who was manning the shop at the time told me she hadn’t seen the fabric in many years. I had never seen it at all. And then, I started seeing it more and more and over the past couple of years I’ve seen this fabric become much more easy to get. Take that for what it’s worth.
So challis. What’s challis? First of all, let’s get the pronunciation correct – pronounced sha-lee. Apparently the term challis means soft and this, I think, is a good description of challis. It’s a thin drapey sort of cloth. It’s a plainweave weave and it’s most commonly known for its pattern or design. I see great, great designs/patterns in challis and they can be woven into the cloth or printed on. Challis is usually matte, meaning it doesn’t have a shiny look to it. If it does, then it’s a french challis or a norwich crepe (and remember crepe can be differentiated because it’s woven with a twisted yarn). I find wool challis to have a somewhat rough texture to the fingers though it has very flat look to the eye.
Rayon challis is becoming much more common as those quilting cotton manufacturers are producing some great prints. Wool challis is a bit harder to get (hopefully becoming easier though) and sometimes I see wool challis mixed with another fiber – namely cotton or silk.
Definitely worth the having. When it’s got some wool in it, I notice that the drape factor is not as drapey as rayon. This can be nice for dresses, button-up shirts, blouses, skirts – something where the lightweight factor and drape can be shown off a bit.
Do you have wool challis in your stash? This is such an interesting fabric.
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!