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What is Crepe Paper?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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Crepe paper, or crêpe paper, is tissue paper that’s been coated with sizing and then “creped” to create gathers. Sizing is a material such as glue, gelatin, gum, or starch, added to paper pulp or cloth to add sheen and stiffness, among other things. This gives the paper a distinct texture and feel, and one quite different from untreated tissue paper.

Tissue paper, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) paper industry standard, is the lightest weight paper on its scale. The ISO measures weight in grams per square meter (gsm), and with this measurement system, it is easy to see where crepe paper lines up:

10–35 gsm tissue paper
35–70 gsm lighter textweight
70–100 gsm medium textweight
100–120 gsm heavy textweight/light cardstock
120-150 gsm regular cardstock
150-200 gsm heavy cardstock
>200 gsm super heavy cardstock

Sometimes the division between tissue paper and textweight paper is given as 40 gsm, rather than 35 gsm.

Crepe tissue paper comes in white, as well as an array of bright and pastel colors, and it may or may not bleed. Creping can also be applied to specialty papers, such as mulberry paper or Lokta paper, which is made from the Daphne Bush of the Himalayas and is sometimes called Lokta crinkle. In addition, crepe paper is important as the backing for various types of tape, including masking tape and electrical tape.

Crepe paper is popular for streamers and other party decorations, but it has other uses as well. Props and costume accessories can be made of this paper. It can be soaked in a small amount of water to create a dye for Easter eggs, white cardstock, and other materials. It can also be used to make paper flowers, appliqué, and paper sculpture.

Crepe paper is sold in long narrow rolls — 1 7/8 inch and 2 inches wide in the US and 4.5 cm wide in the UK for streamers and such, as well as in sheets and “folds” — large folded sheets. It is often made to be fire-resistant.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By yournamehere — On Aug 12, 2010

If you want to buy crepe paper in bulk, how do you find a good supplier?

There are a surprising number of crepe paper suppliers out there, and I don't know how to choose a good one.

Are there standards for this sort of thing, or is it luck of the draw?

By lightning88 — On Aug 12, 2010

I never knew that there were so many kinds of crepe...the only time you really ever hear about it is birthday parties, when everybody hangs up those infuriatingly easy to tear crepe paper decorations.

I may be the odd one out, but I always hated hanging those little streamers of crepe paper -- the rolls would always tangle and tear.

To this day, I am not a fan of anything "crepe".

By Planch — On Aug 12, 2010

When I was young my girlscout troop was always making tissue paper decorations, especially crepe paper flowers.

I remember it was just the easiest thing to start doing, but it was so hard to make really good looking ones.

To this day I still make crepe paper flowers with my granddaughters, and they love to do it too.

It's become sort of a family tradition.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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