How is silk made? What is silk?

Author: Diana I

What is silk?

Silk is gorgeous.

It is very soft, comfortable, and breathable when it is worn on the skin.

When we are talking about silk, we are actually talking about fineness, refinement, and luxury.

That is why people love to wear silk so much.

The fabric represents the kind of quality and excellence that is suitable for a wealthy person or celebrity.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be rich or famous to afford this luxury material.

Let’s not forget that silk used to be solely an imperial material up until the 13th century.

During this time period, the only ones who could afford silk were wealthier individuals and royal family members.

Fortunately, silk found its way to the consumer market where ordinary citizens could purchase and wear it.

However, that doesn’t mean it became a cheap material because it did not.

Even to this day, silk is not a cheap material. The upside is the average people can at least afford it now.

 

It’s so good to live in these times, isn’t it?

Our chances of having silk have increased considerably.

We can thank globalization and automation for allowing that to happen.

 

But some of you may have many questions about silk, such as…

How is Silk made?

What is Silk used for?

What are its properties?

Why is Silk considered to be a luxury fiber and what can we do with it?

 

Below we will answer these most common questions about silk.

First, let’s talk about what silk is.

 

 

The definition of Silk

Silk is a naturally thin, but strong fiber which comes from the larvae of certain insects and worms.

Silk contains about 20 to 30% sericin and 70 to 80% fibroin. These are both protein fibers that have a lot to do with the characteristics of silk.

The soft, thin, and strong qualities of silk can be attributed to these proteins.

I know, it is hard to imagine that wearing silk means that we’re wearing the protein fibers of worms and insects.

It doesn’t sound too appealing when you think of it that way.

However, it is still worth it because of how great it feels and looks on the body.

 

 

History of silk fiber

Let’s see what interesting things happened in the past with this famous fiber…

Silk production started in China around the 4th Century B.C. At this point in history, the Chinese people kept the production of silk a secret. They didn’t want any competitors to come along and figure out what they were doing.

 

 

China Silk

 

 

This allowed the Chinese to have a monopoly on Silk production all the way up to about 200 A.D.

That was when Chinese immigrants settled in the Korean Peninsula and took the secret of silk production along with them.

From there, production of silk slowly spread through the Korean Peninsula until it eventually reached the Japanese islands around the year 300 A.D.

A few hundred years after that, silk production became huge amongst the Byzantine Empire.

They are the ones that helped spread this trend west toward the Middle Eastern continent.

Arabs started Silk production around the same period.

As the Crusades began in Western Europe during the mid-11th century, silk production started in the Italian states as a result. The production would continue over the next 200 years as the Crusades continued to take place.

Hundreds of years later, in the 16th century, silk production spread to France also.

Between 1760 and 1840, the Industrial Revolution changed the manufacturing industry forever.

Companies were now exploring ways to produce cheaper materials at faster rates. They found this not be more profitable, despite the quality of the end products being reduced. As a result, cotton production increased while silk production decreased.

This was really the beginning of the profit motivate taking over the business world at the expense of quality.

But in the 20th century, silk regained its appreciation and popularity once again.

People were discovering how much better silk felt in comparison to cotton.

They weren’t afraid to spend a little bit more money on it either because they appreciated the quality of the silk.

Meanwhile, those who still wanted cheaper materials could stick with the cotton.

Currently, China has become first place once again in silk production on the global market.

 

 

What is silk used for?

– It is used in the fashion industry for creating luxury-style clothing. Some of these luxurious clothing pieces include Silk scarves for women, Silk scarves for men, Silk dresses, Silk skirts, and Silk ties. There are so many more examples to list, but you get the idea.

 

Silk Fashion

 

– Silk has been incorporated in parts and components relating to the electronics industry.

– Silk is used in the aeronautical industry. Since the material is strong and can withstand cold temperatures, it is the perfect fiber to use in the interior.

– Doctors may use Silk sutures after a surgery to hold their patient’s bodily tissues together.

– Silk makes a wonderful material for home decorations. You can purchase silk flowers, silk arrangements, and other silk centerpieces.

 

 

Properties of silk

There are many advantages to using silk material. They are as follows:

1

Silk is very soft. In fact, it is one of the softest fibers on the planet.

2

Silk is a very strong fiber, despite it being so soft. This often surprises a lot of people.

3

Silk has a natural protein structure.

This makes it the most hypoallergenic material, meaning you won’t likely get an allergic reaction from touching it.

4

Silk feels extremely cool and comfortable to wear during the summer.

5

Silk will keep you feeling warm and cozy during the winter months.

6

Silk has highly absorbent properties.

7

Silk dries very quickly.

8

Silk it is a breathable fiber. This means your skin will receive oxygen as you wear the silk fibers on it.

 

 

Types of silk

Brocade: This type of Silk is used to make upholstery and draperies. For special occasions, it is used to make dresses and costume pieces too. It is a strong and luxuriant material.

Charmeuse (Silk Satin): Used for making blouses, ladies scarves, men scarves and lingerie clothing.

Chiffon: This Silk is transparent; it is used for scarves but also for clothing which contains lining.

Dupion Silk: A coarse-feeling Silk. Not the most popular type of Silk, but great if you like durability.

Fuji Silk: A Silk of Japanese origins. It has medium weight and a soft luster.

Gauze Silk: Lightweight, floaty, and soft. It is used for making skirts and dresses.

Georgette: Used for blouses, dresses, evening gowns, ladies’ scarves, and men’s scarves. It is fine, lightweight, and less lustrous than other types of silks.

Habotai Silk: You may know this type of Silk by other names, such as China silk, Habutai, or Pongee.
It is one of the original types of silk fabric that is still available. You will find many clothing pieces made from Habotai Silk.

Noil Silk: This is a raw silk which has subtle flecks on it. These are the natural particles of an insect’s cocoon.

Organza Silk: It is lightweight, sheer, thin and used for the base of embellished fabrics and curtains.

Tussah Silk: This is wild silk that is produced by silkworms which feed on oak and juniper leaves. It is available in its natural color, a creamy tan.

 

 

How is silk made?

Silkworms (Bombyx mori) are the principal characters in this process.

They form the cocoon within which larvae develop.

silk cocoons

If you ask me, looking at them, these guys can look pretty ugly.

You would never guess that they produce such beautiful and luxurious silk material.

 

silkworm

 

 

When they become butterflies, things do not change…those slim bodied butterflies develop those vibrant colors on their wings.

But knowing these silkworms enough, we get to love them ???…OK, I admit: less when we are speaking about their appetite.

These guys eat like a madman.

 

 

Did you know that?

China kept its monopoly of Silk production for many centuries due to an imperial decree that condemned anyone to death who attempted to export silkworm or Silk cocoons.

The secret of Silk production by Chinese is considered to be the most zealously guarded secret in history.

Part of the reason for this was that wearing silk meant that you were an emperor or had royal status in Ancient China.

Common people were prohibited from wearing this material.

This all changed during the era of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when peasants were allowed to wear Silk clothes too.

By this point, the secret of silk production had already spread to other countries and continents.

The trade route from China to Europe is known as The Great Silk Road.

For Europeans, the Chinese silk was very important and people were going thousands of miles for that exotic material.

Silk clothing had usually embroidered flowers and birds.

Around the 13th century, Italy was a major producer of Silk. Italian cities, such as Lucca, Genoa, Venice, and Florence, were exporting Silk all over Europe.

In Medieval Europe, noble people were the only ones who used Silk.

 

So what do you think about Silk? Waiting for your comments <3

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