Centuries ago, only the wealthy and fashion-conscious could afford to wear silk clothing. After hundreds of years, silk is still a highly sought-after fabric (albeit at a lower price), and for good reason. Silk is a luxurious fiber that not only looks and feels great but is also easy to work with and surprisingly durable. If you choose carefully, a silk top can be dressed up for a day at the office or down for a night out with your favorite jeans.
Colorful Silk Dress
Silk’s strength is one of its most fascinating features. Silk may feel delicate, but it is one of the strongest fabrics available despite appearances to the contrary. Even though it has a smooth, silky texture and a refined appearance, its underlying strength is ready to unleash itself.
The length of the fibres contributes to their robustness. Both cotton and linen are produced by spinning together short plant fibers. As the larvae of the mulberry silkworm spin a cocoon around themselves, a long, continuous thread is created. The high cost of this fabric is due to the lengthy and delicate manufacturing process. Silk cannot be unraveled into individual fibers like cotton can.
Of course, there are more properties of silk fibre than its strength. Such as:
Breathability. Silk is a lightweight, breathable fabric, which means it reduces the risk of overheating when you’re going about your day.
Elasticity. If they’re treated well, silk clothes are good at keeping their shape. Silk is flexible and has some elasticity to it which allows it to pull itself back into shape after stretching – to some extent. Don’t stretch silk unnecessarily or you may go too far.
Absorbency. Silk is fairly absorbent. Water weakens the fibres, though, so treat your silk carefully when you’re washing it. Cleanipedia has advice that can help. If you’re using a fabric conditioner, you’ll want something gentle, such as Comfort Pure and should always check the item’s label for washing instructions.
Thermal regulation. Silk’s good at maintaining your body temperature which means it can help you feel cool in hot weather and warm in the cold. If you want a fabric that’s both thin and a good insulator, silk’s the way to go.
Drying speed. Silk is fast drying which makes it highly practical when managing your laundry or just going about your day-to-day business.
Shine. Silk fibres are smooth and straight, unlike wool, for example, which has a scaliness you’ll see if you put it under a microscope. This difference makes silk smoother to the touch and shinier to the eye, with an altogether luxurious feel.
Different types of silk fabric
Silk, like wool, is a protein-based fiber, but it is the only natural fiber that uses a single, unbroken filament throughout. Silk’s structure is determined by the origin of its fibers, which are typically sourced from either China or India. ‘Raw silk,’ the type of silk most commonly used in textile production, consists of two smooth, transparent filament rods with a triangular cross section (this is what gives silk its distinctive sheen and scroopy feel; it makes a rustling sound when rubbed between fingers). The appearance of wild (Tussah) silk is distinct (coarser, thicker, flatter, and broader, with fine surface lines). A combination of these characteristics gives silk its lustrous appearance, excellent drape, and luxurious feel.
Of course, the properties of silk can depend on the types of silk fabric you’re working with. Here are some common silk material types you might come across. Some of these fabrics can also be made of polyester or nylon as a more affordable alternative.
Chiffon is translucent, very light and a lot of fun to swish around. It tends to need gentle care.
Crêpe de chine is a textured fabric, slightly rough to the touch. It’s less reflective than many silks, so it’s a good choice if the sheen and smoothness of other silk fabrics aren’t your things. It’s versatile and can be used in anything from trousers to lingerie.
Dupion is a dense, lustrous silk fabric, a little heavier than some different types of silk. It’s often used for formal wear. It’s sometimes woven with threads of multiple colors, which can create an iridescent effect. If you’ve got a silk jacket that looks blue from some angles and green from others, that might be a dupion.
Habutai is a straightforward silk weave that comes from Japan. It’s often used in linings.
Organza is a sheer fabric, very thin, and used for evening wear.
Charmeuse is a type of satin, which means it’s woven in a particular way that gives it a striking sheen. It’s soft, loose, and easy to move in. Great for an evening gown.
Taffeta can hold its shape better than many types of silk fabric, which makes it good for elaborate ballgowns or even wedding dresses.
Velvet made completely of silk is hard to get your hands on, so you’re more likely to find it mixed with rayon. Velvet’s pile is very soft to the touch, and its color can sometimes change depending on whether you’re rubbing it with or against the grain. Give it a try; it’s fun!
Among all fabrics, silk is unmatched in its beauty and elegance. It’s easy to move around in, it draws attention, and it looks and feels great because silk has so many alluring qualities. You can find a silk fabric that suits your style among the many available options.
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about silk:
1. Is silk more delicate than other materials?
If you’re looking for the softest fabric for your wardrobe, look no further than silk. Silk is easily stained and damaged by heat and light, making special attention to laundry and fabric care more necessary than with more forgiving materials like cotton. Even though silk fibers are very strong, you need to know how to take care of your silk clothes properly to keep them from getting stained or damaged.
2. Why do stains sometimes show up after I have a silk garment cleaned?
Silk may still become stained even after being dry cleaned. The color of silk can be altered when it is exposed to heat or light, revealing long-hidden stains. Perspiration stains on a shirt’s underarms are a classic case in point. An answer to this problem is to explain to your cleaner, as specifically as possible, how the stain got there.
3. What can I do to keep my silk garments looking great?
Stains and accidents can occur despite your best efforts. There’s no need to feel bad if you make a minor social faux pas while eating. It’s possible to increase your chances of completely removing a stain by taking precautions to keep it from setting deeper into the fibers. Attempt to treat the stain as soon as possible after it occurs, as doing so increases the likelihood that the fabric will be salvageable. Avoid rubbing the stained area too harshly or for too long with a clean, damp cloth. Light and heat will speed up the stain-setting process, so keeping the garment out of direct sunlight and ovens is also a good idea.
4. What should I tell my cleaner about cleaning silk?
Listen up, all you fans of silk! Clearly, this is a question worth asking. Getting rid of stains is a science, which you probably didn’t know before. Even though you might not think it matters what was in that delicious red sauce, dry cleaners use a wide variety of cleaners and solvents to remove even the most difficult stains. The dry cleaner you take your clothes to will use a different product to remove the remnants of a creamy red sauce than they would use to remove the remnants of a tomato-based sauce. The chemical makeup of protein-based stains is different from those of vegetable-based stains, necessitating distinct approaches to their removal. If you want your cleaner to be able to effectively remove a stain, you should give them as much information as possible about how it happened.