A lightweight, easy-care, warm weather fabric, plisse is characterized by its crinkled appearance. The material is similar to seersucker, but not as long-lasting. While seersucker is woven, the distinctive appearance of plisse comes from the application of a caustic solution that causes the fabric to shrink and pucker. You'll see versatile plisse used for clothing, as well as household decor items such as duvet covers, curtains and bedspreads. Originally made of cotton, plisse now comes in rayon or acetate as well.
Although the care of plisse fabric is uncomplicated, gentle handling ensures your fabric lasts and retains its appearance as long as possible. Wash the item in cool water with a liquid soap made for delicate fabrics. Avoid machine washing if possible, because the agitation weakens the fabric. If you must machine wash, use a gentle cycle and cool water. Treat stains immediately by blotting the plisse with a clean white cloth, but avoid rubbing, which may cause damage and make the stain more difficult to remove. If necessary, treat the stain with a gel or liquid stain remover or liquid laundry detergent.
The clothes dryer isn't a good method for drying plisse -- the heat from the dryer may cause shrinkage and loss of the fabric's crinkles and puckers. Instead, squeeze the fabric gently to remove excess water. Avoid wringing and twisting, which can damage the fibers. Hang-dry the fabric in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, which weakens the fibers.
Because plisse has a naturally wrinkled appearance, it rarely needs ironing. If necessary, remove wrinkles with a steam iron held a few inches from the material, or by smoothing your hand over the fabric. Limit ironing to the edges or the hems of garments, because the iron may flatten the fabric and destroy the crinkled, puckered quality. When you do need to iron, keep the temperature setting low and press lightly.
To prolong the life of plisse fabric, launder it before storage. Soil and stains weaken the fibers and shorten the life of the material. Treat stains immediately; the longer stains remain in the fabric, the harder they are to remove. Additionally, some stains, such as perspiration and lemon-lime soda, may oxidize and turn yellow during storage. Store plisse fabric in a clean plastic storage container lined with muslin or a cotton sheet, and then keep the container in a cool, clean, well-ventilated area away from sunlight and artificial light.
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M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.