Silk: the origin, types and characteristics of fabric care

Silk: the origin, types and characteristics of fabric care

Silk is a natural fabric that does not belong to plant or animal origin. It is obtained from the cocoon of a silkworm caterpillar. But there are also artificial and synthetic types of silk paintings. All of them are distinguished by their unique shine, smoothness and durability.

Silk history
There are many interesting legends about the origin of the first silk threads. The facts confirming the manufacture of silk in antiquity date the beginning of its production to a period of about 5 thousand years ago. This is evidenced by archaeological excavations in some areas of China, where fragments of silkworm cocoons were found. Also found were inscriptions of the Yin hieroglyphs “silk”, “mulberry tree”, “silk fabric” on animal bones and tortoiseshell, which date back to the second millennium BC. And fragments of silk fabric were first found in the tombs of southern China.
Therefore, China is considered the birthplace of silk. For a long time, the Chinese kept secret the technology of silk production, and the disclosure of secrets was punishable by execution. Already in the second century BC foreign trade, called the Silk Road, was actively developing. The Chinese sent caravans loaded with goods to the countries of Central Asia. At the same time, the secret of silk production came to Korea, then to Japan and to the fourth century BC. exotic fabrics were also made in India.Silk: the origin, types and characteristics of fabric careSilk is a natural fabric that does not belong to plant or animal origin. It is obtained from the cocoon of a silkworm caterpillar. But there are also artificial and synthetic types of silk paintings. All of them are distinguished by their unique shine, smoothness and durability.

There are many interesting legends about the origin of the first silk threads. The facts confirming the manufacture of silk in antiquity date the beginning of its production to a period of about 5 thousand years ago. This is evidenced by archaeological excavations in some areas of China, where fragments of silkworm cocoons were found. Also found were inscriptions of the Yin hieroglyphs “silk”, “mulberry tree”, “silk fabric” on animal bones and tortoiseshell, which date back to the second millennium BC. And fragments of silk fabric were first found in the tombs of southern China.
Therefore, China is considered the birthplace of silk. For a long time, the Chinese kept secret the technology of silk production, and the disclosure of secrets was punishable by execution. Already in the second century BC foreign trade, called the Silk Road, was actively developing. The Chinese sent caravans loaded with goods to the countries of Central Asia. At the same time, the secret of silk production came to Korea, then to Japan and to the fourth century BC. exotic fabrics were also made in India.

Silk fiber
Silk fiber

Despite the popularity of silk, the secret of its manufacture reached Europe only by the year 550. Active production and trade was conducted in Italy in the 13th century. And in the 17th century, France became one of the leaders in silk production in Europe.

Currently, silk is produced in many countries: India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Brazil and others. But China remains its largest supplier, accounting for about 50% of all world production.

Production Features
Sericulture is a very precise and delicate production. It consists of several important steps:

  1. Getting silkworm cocoons. A female silk moth lays about 500 eggs. The eggs are sorted and tested, leaving only healthy ones. Within 7 days, small silkworms appear, which are fed with mulberry leaves, previously selected by hand and chopped. After a certain time, the caterpillars begin to make cocoons into which they completely twist themselves in a few days. Next comes the sorting of cocoons by color, shape, size, and so on.
  2. The unwinding of cocoons. To begin with, the pupa is killed so that it does not have time to hatch and damage the cocoon. After that, the cocoon is immersed in boiling water to dissolve the sticky substance in order to easily unwind its threads.
  3. The creation of silk threads. Each cocoon gives up to 1000 m. of thread. To obtain silk yarn, 5-8 threads are twisted into one fiber. If one thread ends, then the next one is screwed to it. Then we get a very long silk thread. The result is a product – raw silk, which is wound into skeins of yarn. Then they are sorted, processed, twisted again for better density and uniformity, and then sent to a weaving factory.
  4. Fabrication. In weaving workshops, the yarn is soaked, processed and dyed. Then silk fabrics are woven from it using various weaves.
Silk ikat in fashion podiums
Silk ikat in fashion podiums

Types and properties
Natural silk threads come in many forms. It depends on the country of habitat and the conditions in which the caterpillars are grown (habitat or artificial), as well as on the leaves that these worms feed on (mulberry, oak, castor, etc.).

Of course, the quality and appearance of the thread determines the properties and characteristics of the fabric. And all kinds of weaves, with the help of which different types of paintings are created, distinguish them by properties, appearance, structure and other parameters.

Silk threads are used in producing different kind of fabrics. For example, in Uzbekistan, ikat, atlas, organza and many other national fabrics are made of silk. They also may differ by colour and quality.

Silk dresses in fashion podiums
Silk dresses in fashion podiums

Here are some popular types of silk fabrics of various weaving:
Tual. For this type of natural silk fabric, plain weave is used. Differs in soft gloss, good density, also keeps a good shape. Suitable for ties, dresses, linings.
Atlas. This is silk or semi-silk satin weave fabric. Differs in density, smoothness and gloss of the front side, softness, it is well draped. Used for tailoring various clothes and shoes, furniture upholstery.
Satin. This is a satin weave fabric, often made from cotton or chemical fiber, as well as silk. It differs in smoothness, silkiness of the front surface, density, gloss. It makes dresses, men’s shirts, etc.
Crepe. This is a group of silk, semi-silk, woolen, artificial and synthetic fabrics, which is made from threads with a large twist (crepe). They include: crepe satin, crepe chiffon, crepe de chine, crepe georgette. It is distinguished by roughness, light shine, good draping, and also slightly wrinkled. Use for tailoring dresses and suits.
Chiffon. Silk or cotton fabric, plain weave. Differs in softness, subtlety, dullness, roughness, it is well draped.
Organza. Fabric made of silk, polyester or viscose. Differs in rigidity, subtlety, transparency.
Gas. The fabric has a special gas weave. It is distinguished by lightness, transparency, tenderness, keeps its shape well, without shine. Used mainly for decoration, often for wedding dresses.
Wild silk. It is a textured fabric, soft, with a subdued sheen.
Silk Dupont. Very dense, not soft, but not too hard fabric, with a soft sheen. Use for tailoring curtains.
Taffeta. This is a silk or cotton fabric. Differs in plasticity, rigidity. From it sew portieres, outerwear, evening dresses.

Natural silk
Natural silk

Care Features
Silk is a very delicate fabric, so it requires careful socks and gentle care. So recommended:
• Wash in water no higher than 30 degrees. Silk is essentially a protein that is very similar to the human epidermis, and therefore does not tolerate high temperatures.
• Use special detergents for silk products. Ordinary alkaline powder can ruin such a delicate product.
• When hand washing, do not wrinkle excessively and rub the silk product – you can spoil the fabric structure.
• If machine washable, only in Silk or Delicate Wash mode.
• It is not recommended to bleach – the fabric may turn yellow and wear out quickly.
• It is not advisable to use fabric softeners.
• The last rinse should be done in cold water with the addition of vinegar to get rid of alkaline residues on the fabric.
• Do not twist wet cloth and dry in a drum and in the sun.
• Silk is ironed from the inside out by setting the Silk mode or not higher than 200 degrees.
• Do not allow deodorants, perfumes, hair spray and other substances containing alcohol to get on the fabric. It is also better to avoid getting sweat.
• Silk products can be dry cleaned, but taking into account the characteristics of the fabric.
Despite the capriciousness and whimsicality of care, silk products are very popular. The reason for this is not so much its properties as the amazing appearance of the material, which is difficult to confuse with a different kind of fabric.