Seersucker fabric, which is striped or checkered, is fabric that originally made in India, and is from where it derives its name. The name seersucker comes from the Hindi word ‘shir o shekar’ which directly translates to ‘milk and sugar’. The name was probably derived from the fact that the fabric is smooth (like milk) and rough (like sugar). Nowadays, seersucker fabric is common in the American south where it is hot for much of the year. The fabric is popular because it allows one to keep cool in the heat.
Seersucker fabric was originally and is still made from cotton but can now be made of other fabrics such as rayon. This fabric is specially woven to give the crinkled effect. This crinkled effect is achieved by using a slack tension weaving technique. This simply means that one warp is weaved tightly while the other warp is weaved slackly. This technique is a slow weaving process that bunches up the threads, usually has the slack warp made of larger yarn to enhance the crinkle effect. The bunching up of the thread that gives the crinkled effect causes the fabric to not totally be in contact with the skin when worn. This allows air circulation and heat to dissipate when it is hot, keeping the wearer quite cool.
The fact that seersucker fabric is made from cotton makes it even more popular for keeping cool in the heat. Cotton is naturally absorbent, cool and quite soft. Another advantage of this fabric is that it does not need ironing or pressing as it is supposed to be wrinkled.
Seersucker fabric is used to make apparel such as shirts, blouses, shorts, suits, robes, sun dresses and even suits. Curtains and other draperies can also be made from this fabric as it is light weight and therefore good for air circulation in a room. The fabric mostly comes in white and blue stripes but can also be found in other colors such as green, black, pink and red. The white stripes are the ones that are wrinkled.
Seersucker fabric is not readily available anymore because it has low profit margins and has a slow weaving process. Therefore most fabric makers prefer to concentrate on making other types of fabrics. It is however quite possible to find this fabric in online stores and some fabric stores.
Even though the fabric is not as common anymore except in hotter parts of the country, the United States senate hold every year in June, a seersucker Thursday, to remember the days before air conditioning when this particular fabric made the hot summer months more bearable. Members are supposed to dress up in items of clothing made from this fabric.
There are some etiquette rules that should be observed when wearing seersucker fabric. As a general rule, seersucker should be worn in summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day. However, it is okay to wear it on Easter Sunday.
Clothing made from seersucker fabric is relatively easy to take care of. It can be hand washed or machine washed in cold water. Once washed, seersucker fabric can either be line dried to avoid fabric shrinkage or put in the dryer and dried at medium heat. Higher heat levels will cause shrinkage. The items of apparel can then be worn without ironing as the crinkles disguise any wrinkles. If the fabric is not made from cotton, there will be different washing instructions which will be on the garment label.