Voile is a lightweight, softly draping fabric that can be made of cotton, silk, rayon, or wool. The word is from the French for 'veil,' and may be pronounced as it reads in English, 'voyle' or as it reads in French, 'vwall.' Either is correct. Cotton voile has a smooth finish, and in crispness lies between cotton batiste, which is very soft, and a smooth cotton lawn, as in our wisteria print shirtwaist dress. Voile may be white, dyed, or printed. Lighter colors may be somewhat sheer. Here is a lovely piece of cotton voile from the textile collection of London's Victoria and Albert Museum. A product of the Calder Vale Manufacturing Co. Ltd, it was woven in 1936 in Lancashire, the historic heart of Britain's cotton industry.
To lovers of textiles, Lancashire is a name to know. A county in northwest England that originally included the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, it is the home of the industrial revolution. Cotton spinning in Lancashire began about 1760. By 1860 there were 2650 mills which employed 440,000 people. At this time the mills of Lancashire manufactured about half of the world's cotton cloth.
During World War I, when British cotton could not be exported to many overseas markets, Lancashire cotton mills began to close. By 1930, over 300,000 workers had left the cotton industry. By the 1960s cotton mills were closing at the rate of about one per week. Today there are just a handful of cotton mills in Lancashire.
For our amaranth print blouson, we chose Art Gallery Fabric's cotton voile for its exceptional drape and soft hand. A vibrant print in pink, orange, and gold on a charcoal gray ground, this fabric has just enough bounce to keep the silhouette crisp whether belted in a blouson or worn loose.