Several Silk Types You Need to Know
Generally speaking, there are about 35 types of silk fibers. A
majority of consumers are confused about numerous silk products.
Today, I will introduce you to some basic and most commonly-seen
silk types that we feel you need to know.
Categories based on silkworms
Mulberry silk is the long silk fiber produced by matured and
domesticated silkworms when they secrete liquid silk, also known as
“natural silk fiber”. It is the earliest animal fiber used by human
beings as well as the most genuine silk fiber for all kinds of silk
clothes, which is lightweight, soft, and absorptive of moisture. In
addition, mulberry silk contains over 18 amino acids and protein
fibers which is healthy for human skin and hair. For example, the
hygroscopicity of the mulberry silk comforter is 1.5 times higher
than that of cotton comforters. Besides, mulberry silk is pretty
hypoallergenic, and as a consequence, many dermatologists recommend
silk bedding and apparel for aged and sick people. Compared to other
silk fibers, mulberry silk is more luxurious and breathable. It may
not be that durable, but who’s going to use the same bedding for
Tussah silk, also known as ‘shantung,’ is a type of wild silk,
that is produced by tussah silkworms that feed on oak and juniper
leaves. The silk has a feel and quality different from the
As the worm is not grown in a controlled environment, the moth
hatches from the cocoon and interrupts the filament length,
resulting in short and coarse fibers, instead of long and lustrous
ones. Usually, it is widespread in China and other Asian countries
like India, difficult to dye and most often available in its
natural color, a creamy tan.
It is also lightweight and airy, as well as dressy, giving cool
comfort to the wearer. Moreover, it does not wrinkle easily, which
makes it suitable for traveling.
Categories based on different weave methods:
Charmeuse silk, technically speaking, does not refer to a type of
material as Mulberry silk does; it is a silk fabric made with a
particular way of weaving, allowing for extra luster and shine on
the front side in exchange for a dull finish at the back. Charmeuse
silk can be made from all kinds of different silk, including
Mulberry silk, and is often used on products that do not require
showcasing of both sides of the fabric such as pillowcases and duvet
covers. Charmeuse silk offers better drape than crêpe de chine and
works well for scarves, blouses, and lingerie.
Crêpe de Chine
A lightweight fabric that is made by mulberry silk fibers, where
part of them are twisted clockwise and others in a counter-clockwise
direction. These fibers are then woven in a plain-weave fabric. The
twisted fibers give crêpe its distinctive ‘pebbly’ look and feel. It
comes in many different varieties – crêpe de Chine, Moroccan crêpe,
and crêpe georgette. It is comfortable and breathable and wrinkles
easily at the rate of 8%. It has a matt texture and muted lustre.
A light, matt fabric made from fine twisted yarns, spaced out to
make the fabric transparent. It is exceptionally soft and elastic,
highly breathable and comfortable.
Dimension is added to garments by the creation of billows of
fabric. Unless it is used for scarves, garments with chiffon
typically require lining or backing.
Silk Georgette, also called crêpe Georgette . This is a lightweight,
loosely woven sheer fabric made from highly twisted yarns. It has a
crinkled surface and is manufactured in plain and patterned
versions. It is a durable fabric but when sewing you have to be
extremely careful as it snags easily. The flowy thin nature of the
fabric makes it difficult to sew with. It is also less lustrous and
heavier than chiffon. The main uses are for blouses, dresses and
Dupion silk is produced from two silkworms that spin a cocoon
together. This makes strong double-thread silk, usually resulting in
a rough yarn and irregularity in sheerness or weight. Black specks
that occasionally appear in the fabric are part of the original
cocoon of the silkworm. Removing them would both weaken the fabric
and destroy part of its beauty and character. They are inherent to
dupion silk fabric and should not be considered as defects in
weaving. Hence, dupion silk is durable and lustrous and resists
wrinkles to some extent.
It is also known as China silk, Habutai, Pongee. The “classic” silk
fabric, was first used to line kimonos, with plain-weave fabric. Its
weight can range from 5 mm to the heavier 12 mm. Most scarves are
made of 8mm Habotai. Soft and lightweight, Habotai silk is a kind of
smooth fabric and has a beautiful drape and smooth surface.
This is a blend of cotton and silk; It has less sheen than silk and
is very inexpensive when compared to silk. It is not slippery like
silk and is heavier and thicker than silk on its own. It’s often
used to make blouses and dresses.
A blend of wool and silk fibers creates a fabric with most of the
features of both the fibers like warmth without the added weight,
breathability, moisture absorption, drape, resistance to wrinkles,
suppleness. Silk wool is not as scratchy as pure wool.
A medium-weight fabric that is shiny and dense. The silk softens the
crispness of the linen and adds extra sheen. Used mainly for posh
suits, skirts, dresses, and trousers.