What Is Scrim? A Fabric Guide and Explanation

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What is scrim? In general, this fabric comes in two types – finely woven and heavy. Heavy scrim typically has a coarse texture, and it is usually utilized as a part of the reinforcement in making canvas and building. On the other hand, the finely woven version has been used for a long time in bookbinding and theater to hide stage props of actors in anticipation of a big reveal. With that said, continue reading to learn more about what scrim is.



What Is Scrim? – Light vs. Heavy ScrimLight or Gauze ScrimHeavy-Woven ScrimWhat Is Scrim? – Its Commercially Available TypesWhat Is Scrim – Washing InstructionsWhat Is Scrim – In ConclusionMore Fabric Types

What Is Scrim? – Light vs. Heavy Scrim

So, what is scrim? Well, this fabric can either be woven heavily or finely, with each type being used for different purposes. You will notice it has various names when buying the fabric or searching for answers to the question, “what is scrim.” In general, the name depends on the modifications done on the cloth and gives you an idea of how to use them.

Light or Gauze Scrim

This kind of scrim fabric that’s made of light translucent material is commonly called “gauze.” The textile can be made from flax, although it is more common to find something made of cotton. Aside from being light, gauze is also translucent, making it ideal for making curtains, upholstery, and bookbinding.

Uses of Light Scrim:

Theater and Film

Light scrims have been used extensively in theatres. In fact, when you ask what is scrim, the answer commonly points to any thin screen, which can be made out of many kinds of materials. Theater scrim has a rectangular-shaped weaving almost the same size as window screen openings.

Aside from this, another answer you will get when you ask, “what is scrim,” is bobbinette or bobbinet. This light scrim is commonly used for many kinds of lighting effects in the theater and film industries. It also has various sizes of holes in a hexagonal shape.

Face Covering

In addition, when you ask the question, “what is scrim,” you’ll also be led to the results, categorizing it as a covering typically placed on the head or face when referring to clothing. Scrim can serve as a mask to hide the wearer’s face so that others won’t see them while still seeing through the cloth. This fabric can also be used by snipers who want to hide their form, which can be achieved by combining the material with camouflage.

Special Effects

If you have seen the Beijing Olympic Stadium, the venue will also give you some idea as to what is scrim. This stadium hosted the 2008 Paralympics and Summer Olympics, and it is also set to be the venue of the 2022 Paralympics and Winter Olympics.

In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Li Ning, a Chinese billionaire, and retired gymnast was tasked to ignite the cauldron during the opening ceremony. He was hoisted with cables into the air and acted like he was running through the stadium’s rim. While it may have created an illusion, in reality, Li Ning was running around a screen running on top of the venue, made of light scrim. This is also the screen on which the stadium projected different scenes during the opening ceremony of the same event.

Loudspeaker Cover

Another standard answer to the question, “what is scrim,” can be found on a loudspeaker. The fabric can be referred to as a screen, which is a transparent acoustic cover placed to protect a loudspeaker’s dust cap or diaphragm. It also serves as an air filter material used to protect a transducer’s components, including the voice coil.

Stage Lighting

As a lightweight material, this fabric is also used in making various effects in stage lighting. In this case, scrims can transmit and reflect where light is beamed from a front-of-house position. This way, the fabric and all things at its back will be lit. As a result, it turns into various effects that can make your theatrical experience more enjoyable, including the following:

Beaming a light at the scrim will make the image appear on the cloth, and the pattern will also light all objects behind the fabric.Placing light at the back of the scrim will result in a foggy or dreamy scene.If the scene behind the scrim is lit, but the fabric itself has no light, the scrim will look almost transparent.If there is no light behind the scrim, but the light is cast above and at the sides of the fabric, it will result in a completely opaque scrim. Since the fabric does not absorb light, you will see anything lit on all its sides. When you ask what is scrim in theater, the fabrics are combined with a backdrop or cyclorama.When you beam light on the drop or rear-project a video or images on the drop’s backside, all colors and images will become visible. However, the colors and images will not show when the drop is not lit. The idea can be helpful when you want to attain a greater sense of depth when showing a dull image.

Heavy-Woven Scrim

Coarsely woven scrim refers to the material commonly used to reinforce different items, depending on the industry. This reinforcement technique of using scrim is typically applied in manufacturing carbon fiber or glass fiber composites. As a result, the layers of the heavy-woven fabric serve as a protective surface of a carbon-fiber laminate by covering its exterior.

Uses of Heavy-Woven Scrim:

Plaster Reinforcement

Jute scrim is used as a reinforcement when casting plaster in sculpture or directly working in plaster. During World War II, people were given scrims to secure their windows and use the material as tape. This protected the windows from causing dangerous shrapnel whenever there was a blasting of bombs. Although scrim used to be made from burlap, it’s now an open-mesh tape made of glass fiber.

Scrim is also often used for covering the joints of the wallboard or plasterboard before plastering. The tape used in the installation may be adhesive-coated or plain so it will protect the finish of the plaster from cracks, even long after it has been applied.


Coarsely woven and extra heavy scrim with qualities close to coarse canvas or hessian is also used in carpentry. This is because the material adds rigidity to interior boards where it is stretched.

By doing so, the fabric also gives support to the wallpaper. In the older days, the process used to be called “scrim and sarking,” with the latter referring to the board, and the method was widely used in constructing houses.

Sailcloth Manufacturing

Scrim is also widely used for sailcloth manufacturing. However, the type used in this instance is made from solid fibers loosely woven and laminated into the fabric to give it more stability and boost the sails’ strength.

What Is Scrim? – Its Commercially Available Types

You will also find a good selection of scrims in the market. In general, they vary in types, uses, appearance, and texture. There are generally two types of commercially available scrim fabrics.

Natural Cotton Scrim Fabric

You will find this type of scrim being sold at around $4 to $6 per yard. This is typically lint-free, sheer, and commonly used as an event decoration, surgical curtain, wipes, and backdrops for photography and theater.

This type of scrim material is made from 100 percent cotton with a similar appearance and feel to gauze. It’s also loosely woven and has an absorbent feature and is commonly available in colors natural and white.

Aside from medical, culinary, and practical uses, some people enjoy using this kind of scrim for making Halloween props and decor, including spider web or ghosts.

Linen Scrim Fabric

This variety of scrim is more expensive than cotton, with a price range of $20 to $35 per yard. It also comes in many colors, including oatmeal, silver, white, and ivory. Typically it has a sheer appearance and is commonly used in making seasonal decors, crafting, draperies, and wedding ornaments.

What Is Scrim – Washing Instructions

So, aside from understanding the answer to “what is scrim,” you also need to know how to care for this delicate fabric. Due to its light and airy structure, you can’t wash the light types of scrims, including cotton and linen, in a machine. However, you can gently spot clean the fabric or have it dry cleaned.

What Is Scrim – In Conclusion

Lightweight scrims are used in making art, crafts, and decors. In contrast, heavily woven scrims and those integrated with other materials are commonly used as reinforcement or making other things more robust and sturdy.

You can easily find light types at physical and online stores. However, you need to make sure that you know how you intend to use them before finalizing your purchase. For example, while cotton scrim is less expensive than linen, the latter is better for making embroideries and other enhancements.

Loosely woven scrims are airy, so you must be careful when handling and maintaining them. Aside from this, you need to gently clean the dirt when you spot them as much as possible.

With that said, now that you know more about scrim, you may want to purchase the fabric and use it the next time you have been assigned to do decors, costumes, or props.

More Fabric Types

What Is Terrycloth? – Fabric Guide, Uses & TypesWhat Is Velveteen? Fabric Explanation & UsesWhat is Hemp Fabric – Guide, Uses & TypesWhat is Velour – Fabric Guide, Types & UsesWhat is Toile? Fabric Guide and Explanation

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