Silk is the strongest natural fiber known to man. Its shimmering appearance is the result of its fiber’s triangular, prism-like structure allowing light to refract from different angles. Here are some of its great qualities and the advantages of using it: (according to Texeresilk.com)
- Because of its natural protein structure, silk is the most hypoallergenic of all fabrics.
- An all-climate fabric, silk is warm and cozy in winter and comfortably cool in summer. Its natural temperature-regulating properties give silk the paradoxical ability to cool and warm simultaneously. Silk garments thus outperform other fabrics in both summer and winter. Silk worn as a second layer warms without being bulky.
- Silk is highly absorbent; it can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. Silk will absorb perspiration while letting your skin breathe.
- In spite of its delicate appearance, silk is relatively robust. Its smooth surface resists soil and odors well. Silk is wrinkle and tear resistant, and it dries quickly.
- While silk's abrasion resistance is moderate, it is the strongest natural fiber and, surprisingly, easily competes with steel yarn in tensile strength
- Silk takes color well; washes easily; and is easy to work with in spinning, weaving, knitting and sewing.
There are six common types of silk. These are the following:
Raw Silk - Silk yarn or fiber from which the 'sericin' or natural protective gum hasn't been removed is called 'raw.' The protective coating makes the silk stiff and rather dull and can attract both dirt and odors.
Dupioni - It is often woven from two different colors of thread, giving it a shimmering, color-shifting appearance. Durable and extensive, it feels almost like taffeta. It's very easy to sew with and holds a crease well. However, it does not stretch at all so make sure your cuts are precise.
Charmeuse - When it comes to silk, this is what most people comes to mind. Charmeuse is a medium-weight weave. Its front has a satin finish, shiny and reflective, and the back has a matte crepe finish. It has beautiful drape and is a top choice for garment sewing. The bad thing is, it is quite slippery, snags easily and is really too soft to hold sharp creases well.
Crepe de Chine – It means “Crepe from China”. Crepe de Chine is very lightweight and known for its 'pebbly' appearance. Both sides of the fabric look exactly the same. It can tear easily if not handled with care.
China Silk – This is one of the cheapest variety of silk fabric. Its scarves are traditionally made from China silk. Its seams easily tear under stress. That’s why it is not a good choice for anything fitted. The good thing about this fabric is it has a nice sheen, a smooth texture, ad has a graceful drape.
Shantung - Its name comes from the Shantung province and it belongs to the Dupioni family. Today's shantung is usually made from cultivated silk warp yarns alternated with heavier dupioni weft yarns but it is originally woven from wild silk. Shantung is strong and crisp, making it a good choice for projects with gathers or pleats. It does ravel very easily so all seams must be finished.