What Is Cotton Plisse?

by Elizabeth Pace ; Updated September 28, 2017

Sodium hydroxide gives plisse cotton its crinkled appearance.

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People have made cloth from cotton for thousands of years. Today, cotton has various uses in many parts of the world. It is durable, breathable, soft and hypoallergenic. Plisse refers to cotton that has been specially treated in order to give it a unique appearance.


Plisse is created by applying a paste of caustic soda, otherwise known as sodium hydroxide, to the fabric. The caustic soda causes the fabric it touches to shrink, creating puckers. It can be used create patterns, such as stripes or dots. Plisse is also refered to as a crepe effect.


Most plisse cotton does not require ironing. Ironing can actually damage plisse, flattening the pucker produced by the caustic soda. When ironing plisse, it is important not to pull the material, so as not to ruin the cotton's crepe effect.


Plisse has a variety of uses. Manufacturers commonly use it to make household items like curtains and bedspreads. Plisse is also used for clothing, particularly pajamas and dresses.


Plisse cotton with a striped pattern can look very similar to seersucker. However, seersucker involves a more complicated weaving technique. Ironing may damage plisse but seersucker withstands it. You may be able to tell the difference between plisse and true seersucker by stretching the fabric to see if the seersucker weave is present, or if the fabric is chemically treated plisse.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Pace began writing professionally for Demand Studios in 2010. She plans to use her experience in research based writing to write fact sheet, how to and about articles for eHow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Springhill College in Mobile, Alabama. She graduated "summa cum laude" and received the Edward Day Stewart award for highest GPA in her field.