Tulle ( /tuːl/ TOOL) is a lightweight, very fine netting, which is often starched. It can be made of various fibres, including silk, nylon, and rayon. Tulle is most commonly used for veils, gowns (particularly wedding gowns), and ballet tutus. Tulle comes in a wide array of colors and it can also easily be dyed to suit the needs of the consumer. It is readily available.
The name comes from Tulle, a city in the southern central region of France. Tulle was well known as a center of lace and silk production in the 18th century, and early tulle netting probably originated in this French city. Tulle netting certainly appeared earlier in Parisian ballet costume than in most other nations, suggesting that tulle netting may have been more readily available there than elsewhere.
The majority of tulle is actually bobbinet, invented in Britain in the early 19th century. Bobbinet is made by wrapping the weft thread around the warp thread, creating a strong hexagonal design which tends not to twist or fall out of shape, because the wrapped threads maintain a state of tension. The result is tulle netting which is lightweight and surprisingly strong and durable for its weight.
One of the most common uses for tulle netting is in garments. Tulle is often used as an accent, to create a lacy, floating look. Tulle may also be used in underskirts or petticoats to create a stiff belled shape. Gowns are often puffed out with the use of several layers of stiff tulle. Tulle netting is also used to make veils, since it obscures the features of the face while allowing the wearer to see out.
There are other applications for tulle netting. Finely woven tulle netting is excellent for insect control, for example. The tulle netting can be stretched over potentially vulnerable plants to keep insects out, and it can also be used to create an insect tent over a bed to protect sleepers. The starch keeps the tulle netting from collapsing, and the holes allow air to circulate through the material.
Decorative ornaments can also be made from tulle netting. It is frequently used to wrap up party favors and gifts, especially for weddings and baby showers. Scraps of tulle netting are sometimes used in quilting and crafts as well, to add texture to a project. Multicolored tulle netting is often used for this purpose, to create tulle flowers and other ornamental accents.