There are many different types of silk fabric. Here we describe the three that we use for our garments and also the meaning of bias cutting.
Admired for its lustrous shine and smooth, luxurious feel, silk satin is probably the best known silk fabric. The shimmering appearance of silk comes from the fibres triangular prism-like structure which allows the fabric to refract incoming light at different angles. The satin weave gives it a very smooth, shiny surface on one side and matt (or crepe) surface on the reverse. Silk satin is known as charmeuse silk in the United States.
Woven silk is graded by the momme weight system. This is based on the weight of silk relating to its surface area. Higher momme weights show more silk was used in the weaving process. For example, a lightweight silk habotai could be 10-12 momme. The silk satin we use is 19 momme.
Stretch Silk Satin
Silk satin which has been woven to incorporate elastane (ours is 9% elastane). This gives a stronger fabric with a one directional stretch and is ideal for more fitted garments such as briefs.
This 100% silk fabric is made from knitted silk rather than woven. It has a soft lustre and handle and a natural stretch. This versatile fabric maximises silks superb ability to insulate the body and wick away moisture, so keeping the skin dry and comfortable. This makes it an ideal fabric for underwear, nightwear and thermalwear.
Silk jersey is available in different weights, measured in grams per square metre of fabric. We use a 95g silk jersey for our underwear and nightwear, and a 145g jersey for our T shirts and thermals.
A garment made of woven fabric is said to be "cut on the bias" when the fabrics warp and weft threads are at 45 degrees to its major seam lines. This allows the fabric to have more give and elasticity in the bias direction compared to the straight grain. A bias cut garment has a fluidity; it accentuates body lines and curves and drapes softly. Bias cutting is usually more expensive than cutting on the straight grain as there is more fabric wastage. The vast majority of our silk satin lingerie and nightwear is bias cut.
As well as its luxurious softness and dazzling lustre, there are various other benefits of silk that other fabrics cannot match. These advantages have earned silk its deserved reputation as queen of fabrics.
Because of its natural protein structure, silk is the most hypoallergenic of all fabrics, and so is ideal for those with very sensitive skins.
An all-climate fabric: silk is remarkably warm for a fine fabric, but also comfortably cool when the temperature rises. Silk garments thus outperform other fabrics in both summer and winter.
Silk is highly absorbent and efficient at wicking away moisture from the body. It can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp.
Silk is resistant to fire; it does not burn easily or quickly and does not melt at high temperatures as do some synthetic materials.
Silk takes dye well, achieving brilliant, vibrant colours. It also washes and dries easily and quickly and develops an attractive softness in look and feel over time.
Silk is the strongest natural fibre, easily competing with steel in tensile strength. The medieval Japanese wore soft body armour made from silk to protect themselves from the arrows and swords of their enemies. More recently, body armour made from 16 layers of thin silk have been found to be as effective as kevlar vests against 9 mm bullets.
When folded or bundled up, silk occupies a remarkably small space. A normal size silk scarf can always be pulled very easily through a finger ring. This made it ideal for secret maps which were concealed in clothing in the 2nd World War. Today it means your silk garments will take up very little room or weight in your suitcase!
Silk is one of the lightest of all natural fibres and gives a beautiful, floaty appearance when used in dresses, saris, kimonos and nightwear etc.