Silk Fabric Buying Guide

Silk Fabric Buying Guide

Silk is​ one of​ the most desired and popular natural fibers with a​ rich history. Pliny, the Roman historian, quoted in​ his Natural History in​ 70 BC that “Silk was obtained by removing the down from the leaves with the help of​ water…". it​ is​ interesting to​ note that for more than two thousand years the Chinese kept the secret of​ silk altogether to​ themselves.

It is​ believed to​ be discovered by a​ Chinese Empress Hsi Ling Shi and was a​ guarded secret that passed through many centuries till it​ was discovered. Talking of​ silk fabric in​ furnishing, it​ has been one of​ the favorites owing to​ its light weight, rich and sophisticated feel, and because of​ its famous history.

Interestingly, a​ more recent archeological survey reveals a​ small ivory cup carved with a​ silkworm design predicted to​ be between 6000 and 7000 years old. Spinning tools, silk thread and fabric fragments were found from sites along the lower Yangzi River in​ China unraveling the origins of​ sericulture much earlier in​ history. There is​ a​ story that two monks smuggled seeds of​ the mulberry tree and silkworm eggs out of​ China by hiding them in​ their walking sticks. Silk is​ made from two continuous filaments cemented together and used to​ form the cocoon of​ the silkworm. it​ is​ again said that India learnt of​ silk culture when a​ Chinese princess married an​ Indian prince. The major producer and exporter of​ silk is​ Japan, followed by India and Brazil.

Silk Characteristics

• Rich, Light and luxurious.
• Comfortable and absorbent
• it​ is​ one of​ the strongest natural fabric.
• Not resistant to​ abrasions and sunlight and air impurities, resulting in​ fading of​ the color.
• Water spots can be easily visible. The fabric should be dry cleaned.
• Silk fabric do not resist wrinkle.

Producing silk From Cocoon to​ Yarn : Sericulture has a​ old history by which silkworms are used to​ cultivate silk by feeding them on mulberry leaves. The worms increase their body size by almost 10,000 times within a​ very short span of​ time. The silk worms stop eating by the end of​ a​ month and attach itself to​ straw to​ start spinning its cocoon. The worm ceases to​ eat by the end of​ thirty days and attach itself to​ a​ piece of​ straw and begins to​ spin its cocoon. This is​ when human intervention takes place between the stage of​ spinning a​ cocoon and before the hatching of​ worm, the cocoon is​ soaked in​ hot water and a​ fine thread is​ unraveled which is​ the silk fiber, later weaved into fabric.

Washing and bleaching of​ the silk thread after the fiber has been extracted, it​ needs to​ be thoroughly washed to​ get rid of​ the glutinous substance, which may also be bleached.

Weaving : one of​ the most crucial steps in​ producing silk, weaving is​ a​ process that interweaves by warp and weft yarns. Silk can be woven by hand or​ machine, while weaving is​ a​ process where the fabric is​ created by interlacing the warp yarns and the weft yarns. The handmade yarn is​ considered better than the machine. Handmade silk can entail delicate designs in​ different colored threads offering wide variety for clothing and upholstery. There are modern machines that use lances, projectiles, jet of​ compressed air to​ shoot the weft-yarn between the warp-yarns. as​ to​ the quality, any good quality silk starts at​ app. 2000 threads per meter width.

Dyeing, Printing and Finishing : Once woven, silk is​ either yarn-dyed or​ dyed-woven in​ different patterns. You can see different shades in​ silk and some of​ the popular yarn-dyed fabrics includes taffeta, duchess, satin and others.

Silk Printing allows in​ fashioning different patterns to​ the fabric. Different methods like screen printing block printing and roller printing is​ used to​ imprint patterns on the silk fabric. The embroidery process is​ like adding embellishment and bestows the fabric with great look. Silk cushions in​ screen print and embroidery make great furnishing items.

Finishing process allows the fabric to​ give it​ the desired effect. it​ is​ either physical or​ chemical. Different treatments result in​ different effects like crease-proofing, water-proofing, fire-proofing etc.

Final soaking in​ a​ chemical solution : This process helps to​ preserve the sheen and luster of​ the silk fabric. it​ adds weight and makes the fabric soft, smooth, easy to​ iron and wrinkle resistant.

Use of​ silk in​ home furnishing and bedding : Apart from the traditional use in​ clothing, silk has been popularly used as​ bedding and furnishing item at​ home. it​ is​ used in​ quilts and as​ upholstery fabric to​ bestow any piece of​ furniture with a​ timeless and rich appeal.

Upholstery fabric : a​ great upholstery fabric, silk is​ used in​ home furnishing allowing any room a​ luxurious look like quilts, curtains, sheets, pillowcases, and throws. Since silk is​ not a​ good resistant to​ abrasion, it​ should be taken extra care.

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