Knowing Your Filipiniana FabricsMarifi R
Filipiniana fabrics are quite different from the typical fabrics used in the Western part of the hemisphere. Although they are quite unique, they are varied–from the natural to the synthetic. Jusi, piña, silk, and a combination of piña and cotton, are some of the natural fibers used in Filipiniana wear. For synthetic ones, fibers such as chiffon, organza, and shantung are used. These fabrics are utilized to make different kinds of Filipinianawear–alampays, barongs, boleros, camisa de chinos, kimonas, and the like.
These fabrics differ in opacity, price, quality, softness, thickness, etc.But, no matter what kind of fabrics craftspeople weave to make the Filipiniana, they hearken to their innately wonderful distinctiveness!
When we talk about natural fibers, we mean fabric derived from plants and animals. This includes clothes made from cotton, piña, and silk. Although clothes that use natural fibers are lightweight, they can be stiff (with purpose, for shaping purposes).
Natural fibers are also used to create sheer, transparent, or see-through clothes. Many clothing brands that want to feature the importance of the Filipiniana use natural fibers that ensure that the Philippine tradition is kept alive.
Jusi is composed of raw silk that comes from the butterfly cocoons’ fibers. In more modern times, banana leaves are used to come up with the jusi’s more current look, since banana leaves are more abundant in nature.
Clothing created from jusi have a traditional and refined feel, but they are usually more affordable. Whenever you touch jusi, it feels extremely soft, especially when compared to other kinds of natural fibers. Unlike the piña, clothing made with jusiare substantially opaquer.
There are a number of people who like the jusi and piña look. This is actually accomplished by just using the jusi fabric, but with small stripes that look like the piña fabric. There is also the monochromatic jusi, which is just jusi fabric dyed by hand to achieve an ombre or a gradient color effect starting from the top portion of a garment until its bottom part.
The piña cloth is made from the fibers refined from pineapple leaves. In an intricate manner, the fibers are extracted by hand and woven using a loom. This results in the piña cloth.
Did you know that the tradition of making the piña cloth is one of the oldest types craftwork in the country of the Philippines? In the province of Aklan, Philippines in particular, you can find the most famous and oldest piña cloth manufacturers.Other similarly famous provinces known for their piña fabric manufacturing are Antique and Iloilo. Their tradition of piña weaving has stayed alive for over a hundred years!
Since piña cloth has hundreds of years of tradition behind it and it is difficult to make and is very delicate, garments made from the piña are treated as heirlooms and investment pieces. To mimic the piña fabric, there are also Filipiniana wear made from cocoon and silk.
Cotton and Piña
Combining both cotton and piña results in a beautifully dynamic fiber. This fiber is used to create sheer clothing, similar to that of the piña fiber. Since it is mixed with cotton, the resulting effect is soft yet strong clothing.
When cotton and piña are used for clothing, the outcome is Filipiniana wear with a translucent effect. Piña’scombination with cotton fibers allows clothes to look more flowy and airy. Even better, mixing cotton and piña fibers creates a garment that becomes more adaptable to any kind of weather.
Now that you know more about the natural fibers used in Filipiniana, it’s time to veer into synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers are made by human hands. Typically they are created in laboratories using chemical reactions divided into many parts. Examples of fabrics that are made using synthetic fibers are polyester, rayon, and the like. Fortunately, clothing created by using synthetic fibers are stronger and more long lasting compared to the more natural fibers.
Using cotton and silk, chiffon is a synthetic fiber. The chiffon can be dyed to whichever color you like, except for the chiffon fabric created from polyester. Chiffon is a plain woven fabric with a transparent and lightweight look. This kind of fiber gives any Filipiniana gown the look that it’s seemingly floating.
Composed of either polyester or rayon, organza is actually human made yarn. Rayon was initially designed to be a silk substitute. This synthetic fabric was made from the purified cellulose derived from specific plants. For polyester, it is made through a long line of mixed polymers.
The organza fabric in itself is a weave that is lightweight and thin, allowing any clothing to have more volume. Based on the occasion, the shiny look of the organza would be great for some and not so much for others. If used in a performance, for example, you would surely grab attention with its shininess. However, if you need clothes that are a bit more low-key, like for use at the office or a small wedding, this isn’t usually the fabric of choice.
Just like many Filipiniana clothing, organza needs a specific process to make sure that it stays clean. It needs to first be dry cleaned. Any creases should be ironed out using a warm iron.
Another synthetic fiber that feels like silk, shantung can be dyed to produce different kinds of colors. Shantung is fabric that is so soft that you can sew beads on it. What also makes shantung stand out is that it is resistant to stains and is extremely strong.
Clothes that use shantung are sufficiently soft to feature the curves of a woman. Simultaneously, the texture is relatively less stiff, especially when compared to fabrics made from natural fibers.
These natural and synthetic fibers are just some of the fabrics used in the traditional and modern Filipiniana wear. Figure out which one looks best on you, whether it’s for comfort or style.