Types of Silk
How many different types of silk are there?
In short, there are four types of natural silk produced around the world: Mulberry silk, Eri silk, Tasar silk and Muga silk. Mulberry silk contributes around as much as 90% of silk production, with the mulberry silkworm generally being regarded as the most important. There are around 35 different types of silk fabrics commonly used to make clothes and home furnishings.
Silk can be made from a variety of different silkworm, and all carry different qualities and features that make them the perfect fit for specific garments.
Here is a guide to the most common, sought after types of silk fabrics….
Woven with a satin weave, Charmeuse is a soft lightweight fabric with a nice drape to it. Often confused with satin, Charmeuse also has a lustrous shine on one side and a dull matte finish on the other. The difference between the two, is that Charmeuse is a shinier fabric.
The qualities of Charmeuse makes it the perfect silk for producing delicate dresses, scarves, lingerie and blouses.
A sheer, elegant fabric with a slightly rough gauze-like texture and a beautiful drape. Made from fine twisted fibres, Chiffon silk is a very lightweight fabric with a slight stretch to it.
The perfect fabric for layering and creating volume. Commonly used for special occasion and wedding dresses in which a chiffon overlay creates a stunning flowy appearance. Also used for scarves, blouses and shirts.
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Floaty and soft, crêpe-de-chine is a plain-weave fabric with a muted lustre and distinctive crimped texture. It comes in two more varieties – Moroccan crêpe and crêpe georgette.
A lightweight material with excellent drape, crêpe-de-chine is the perfect fit for summer dresses, blouses, camisole tops and lingerie.
A plain-weave, tightly woven double-thread silk with a crisp, textured appearance. Woven with different sized weft and warp threads produces a strong, durable fabric with a lustrous shine. Notice the occasional black speck which may run through the weave, this is part of the original cocoon of the silk worm.
A silk with plenty of charm and character, an iridescent look may be achieved by weaving two different coloured threads – known as shot silk. Dupion lends itself perfectly to elegant dresses, jackets, evening wear and bridal wear.
Made with highly twisted yarns, Georgette is a sheer, lightweight , plain-weave fabric with a coarse texture. Not to be mistaken with Chiffon, Georgette is a heavier fabric though carries the same characteristics in terms of not creasing and holding a beautiful drape.
Dresses, blouses, evening gowns and scarves are a popular choice for putting Georgette silk to use.
Soft and lightweight, Habotai is a plain-weave fabric with a smooth, glossy finish. Weights can range from 5mm to 8mm, and is the classic silk used for lining, but can also be used for making scarves, summer blouses or lingerie.
Sheer, fine and lightweight, Organza is an open-weave fabric with a smooth sheen. Although a thin material, its highly twisted threads create a strong, durable material.
Stiff and crisp, Organza is perfect for use on collars, veils, facings and evening wear.
Oozing opulence, pure satin is a highly valuable material with a rich look and feel. The glossy, shiny surface is smooth to the touch and emits a mesmerising shine.
Silk satin doesn’t cling, unlike cheaper polyester versions which attract static electricity. Satin made from silk is far superior, and a popular choice of material for evening gowns and bridal wear to add a touch of luxury and glamour.
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Also known as Tussah silk. Made with short and coarse fibres, Shantung is stiff to the touch, whilst lightweight and airy. Similar to Dupion with its texture, though the finish tends to be more irregular.
A fabric that doesn’t crease and is great for use in shirts, dresses and trousers.
Silk crêpe-backed satin
With a satin face and a crêpe back, this is a reversible silk that can be used on both sides. A light-to-medium weight fabric which is incredibly smooth to the touch, with a lustrous shine.
Beautiful drapes can be created, and is often used for ball gowns, bridal wear and blouses.
A luxurious, medium-to-heavy-weight silk fabric made with multiple warps and wefts. Unusually soft and creates a beautiful drape with a premium shine that catches the light in different ways.