We at MVC love to use silk—it’s lustrous, warm, natural, and wonderful to work with. But it’s a bit of a mystery to some people, so I thought I’d share a few interesting facts about silk with you. Hope you enjoy!
1) People often think that anything shiny is silk. Not necessarily true! Usually shiny fabrics are satin, which is a weave pattern. Silk is a fiber, and like most fibers it can be woven either into a satin or into some other kind of fabric. This makes it possible to have silks that aren’t shiny, and satins that aren’t made of silk. Confused? Here are some photos:
The Madeleine dress was made of satin—and yes, it’s shiny—but the fiber woven to make the satin was not silk. By contrast, the Crimson Bouquet dress was made of silk… but the fabric wasn’t shiny? Yes, it does get confusing. But the bottom line is, shiny does not equal silk.
2) Silk is a natural fiber made by silkworms; to get the threads that are used to weave the fabric, people unwind the silkworms’ cocoons. Usually this yields a single, thin, straight strand. But silkworms are social creatures, so sometimes two of them will make a cocoon together. When it comes time to unwind the cocoons, the two threads get rather tangled, and the resulting thread is somewhat knotted and lumpy. Weaving this lumpy thread gives you silk duppioni (also spelled dupioni, doupioni, or doupion), from the Italian word for twin. The tangled bits of thread turn into beautiful, light-catching slubs in the fabric. (We made the Crimson Bouquet dress from duppioni: the little variations in the fabric are the lumps from the two tangled threads…)
3) A single strand of silk can be anywhere from 1,350 to 4,000 feet long!
This last sample, a handpainted silk charmeuse, shows you just how crazy the colors can get! If you’re interested in seeing more silks, please poke around on www.thaisilks.com. They have quite a few, and that’s where I found these four samples. You can also visit your local fabric store and start reading the bolts—usually they’ll list the fiber content, and that’s also a great way to learn about fabrics.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these facts about silk! It’s really a wonderful fiber, and I know I’m growing to love it more and more each time we use it.