Types of Silk Fabrics and Weaves:
Brocade is a decorative woven silk with an embossed or raised design that is sometimes made with gold or silver colored threads. Brocade has similarities to embroidered fabrics, but is actually quite different overall.
Embroideries are typically stitched on after the fabric has been completed, however in Brocade the patterns are created with additional weft threads that are combined during the actual weaving process. In the past Brocade was only made with silk fibers, however during more modern times fabrics such as rayon, polyester, and cotton can also be made using the Brocade style.
Canton Crepe is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as "a soft thick dress crepe made of silk or rayon in plain weave with fine crosswise ribs." Canton Crepe is thin, light, has a wrinkled surface, and is heavier in texture than Crepe de Chine.
Charmeuse silk is a highly popular fabric when it comes to dress and gown making because it is shiny, sleek, soft, and airy.
Charmeuse is a medium weight silk fabric that feels similar to satin. Charmeuse features a glossy and sheen outside facing surface and a dull matte backside (known as crepe backed).
Charmeuse is a highly popular type of silk fabric and is also used to make shirts, blouses, scarves, lingerie, and pajamas.
Chiffon silk is a soft, thin, and lightweight fabric. Chiffon is sheer with a rougher texture that is similar to crepe. Chiffon is typically available from 8 to 16 momme and is always sheer and somewhat transparent, even at 16 momme.
Chiffon is heavier and stronger than gauze silk, which is typically 4 to 6 momme, and comes in a large variety of different colors and prints
Some positive aspects of chiffon is that it drapes and holds dye well, which allows chiffon to come in a spectrum of amazing colors. Some drawbacks to chiffon silk are that it is difficult to work with, loses shape over time, and frays easily.
Chiffon is commonly used for evening gown overlays, scarves, summer blouses, home decor, and Indian Sarees.
Dupioni is produced by weaving two colors of yarns reeled from double cocoons nested together. Dupioni's sheen is more dull than other silk fabrics, and you will be able to observe different shades on the fabric through different angles of light.
Dupioni is 20 - 28 momme and considered a medium weight silk fabric. Dupioni is a very crisp type of silk that does not wrinkle easily and carries a slightly grainy texture to the touch, which is in contrast to the typical smooth and seamless feel that many silks provide.
Many gowns and dresses have a Dupioni element to them because it is an inexpensive fabric that can be embossed, embroidered, printed or beaded.
Faille is a soft ribbed silk that is defined by the slight ribs in the weft.
Faille is slightly glossy/shiny and is also used with other fabrics such as cotton and rayon.
Silk Georgetta is crinkled, semi-sheer, has a nice drape, is lightweight, and breathable. Silk Georgetta will have a momme somewhere in the range of 6 to 19 and is slightly stretchy.
The textile is very similar to silk chiffon but is not quite as sheer thanks to its heavier weight and tighter weave. The surface of the fabric is crinkled or puckered and is grainy to touch.
Although Georgetta is durable, it also snags easily due to its corrugated surface. Georgetta is great for dress making and is one of the most popular silk fabrics for printed designs.
Habotai silk is a lightweight fabric that is inexpensive, soft, flowing, and has a nice drape. It is usually 8 to 16 momme and is most commonly used in linings but is also used to make light tops, shirts, dresses and overlays.
Habotai silk is somewhat sheer and is very smooth and almost slippery. The downside to Habotai silk is that is may fray easily, and it is also somewhat static and clingy.
Matelasse is a type of weave that was originally created to mirror the same weave that became famous in the South of France.
Matelesse means "padded, quilted, or cushioned," but does not actually contain any padding material. It is a textured and sheen fabric that is used to make dress overlays, blouses, skirts, and slipcovers.
Noil silk has a slightly rough texture and enjoys a thicker feel than that of a cotton fabric. Noil is made from the shorter silk fibers that were left behind during the production of other silk fabrics, which makes the fabric extremely affordable.
Noil is thick as well as rough, but still maintains some of the qualities that silk has become famous for. It is a strong fabric that is easy to manipulate and sew, in contrast to other types of silk that are very difficult to sew.
Noil's veneer is matte and quite dull and the fabric lacks the bright sheen of other silk types.
Organza is a sheer and transparent fabric, and is extremely low density and light weight. This results in a flimsy fabric that is most commonly used to produce overlays, veils, under gowns, and some household textiles.
Organza is an extremely lightweight, crisp, and breathable textile that has the ability to crease easily. Silk organza is made using a plain weave and has a smooth and stiff texture.
Pongee silk has a variety of different appearances that range from fabrics with a satin-like sheen to fabrics with a matte and unreflective surface. In addition to silk, pongee can also be made out of other fabrics such as polyester, linen, cotton, and wool.
Pongee is slightly rough, is plain woven, and has a soft drape. Pongee silk is delicate and light, and has become one of the most preferred fabrics when it comes to silk painting.
Peau De Soie
Peau De Soie silk is also commonly referred to as "bridal satin" because of its popularity among gown makers, having dominated the wedding gown industry for decades. It is an incredible lustrous fabric that has a shimmering finish and can often be mistaken for charmeuse silk.
Peau De Soie is a medium weight silk with a slightly stiff drape that is used to make dresses and gowns.
Silk Crepe Back Satin
Crepe Back Satin is used in the production of dresses, blouses, shirts, linings, as well as evening wear.
The outer surface of the textile is smooth, seamless, sheen, and lustrous, whereas the reverse side is ribbed and slightly grainy.
Crepe Back Satin is most commonly made out of silk, but can also be used together with polyester, nylon, and other synthetic blends.
Crepe Back Satin employs a satin weave with a satin outer layer and a crepe reverse layer. Crepe Back Satin is reversible and either side can be used as the outer layer.
Shantung silk is an unusual fabric with irregular ridges that are known as "slubs". Shantung silk is a medium to heavyweight textile with a crisp and unique texture.
This fabric is a wild silk that is originally produced by silkworms who have grown by feeding on the leaves of oak trees.
Shantung is a delicate, sheen, and grainy fabric thats is highly suitable for making premium wedding gowns. This textile is perfect for draped and bunched garments.
The Indian equivalent of Shantung is called Tussah silk.
Silk Broadcloth is a woven textile that is typically 20 to 28 momme, which makes it a medium weight fabric. It has a somewhat dull veneer with a small amount of sheen that is used to make dresses, blouses, and men's shirts.
Broadcloth is a plain weave that is tight, uniform, and feels somewhat like cotton. This textile is easy to sew and is resistant to wrinkles.
Silk Satin is a type of silk weave that has a glossy front side, and a dull matte back side. Silk satin is similar to charmeuse in many ways, however charmeuse is slightly lighter and softer than satin.
Satin is one of the 3 fundamental types of weaves and is used with silk to make pajamas, shirts, dresses, bedsheets, pillowcases, and more.
Velvet silk is a beautiful, luxurious and also costly textile.
Most velvets on the market today may be sold as silk velvet but is actually a blend of rayon and silk. True silk velvet is rare, hard to find, and extremely expensive to the average buyer.
Silk Velvet is plush, tuft, and has a one-of-a-kind look and feel. Silk Velvet is used to make dresses, jackets, pants, gloves, and a range of household items.
Mulberry silk is the finest type of silk in the world. It's long, smooth, and strong strands produce incredibly soft and luxurious textiles that are used in a variety of garments and upholstery.
Mulberry silk is a remarkable fabric with luxurious qualities and a long and ancient history. Mulberry silk is more expensive than almost all other types of natural and synthetic fabrics because of its premium look and delicate feel. Mulberry silk is highly popular around the world and makes up approximately 85% percent of global silk production.
Spider silk is, you guessed it, fibers spun by spiders. Spider silk is allegedly very strong and elastic. Spiders make webs, nests, and cocoons out of their silk, and use it to catch food or protect their families.
One source claims that spider silk is "tougher than kevlar, more flexible than nylon, and thinner than a single strand of human hair." Although there are not yet many commercial uses for spider silk, it is highly intriguing to scientists and commercial researchers because of its unique qualities. Some say that spider silk will be the only type of silk we use in the future.
Sea silk is made when pan shells emit long silky fibers referred to as byssus. This byssus is produced on sea floor level and must be extracted, cleaned, and the spun to be made into any kind of useful fabric.
Throughout history sea silk was highly desirable, however sea silk struggled to find its place in modern times and has mostly disappeared. Sea silk is incredibly difficult to cultivate (since it comes from a pan shell on the floor of the ocean) and it takes almost 100 pan shells to create one small piece of sea silk fabric.
Art Silk (Bamboo Silk)
Art silk is short for artificial silk, which is typically produced from a synthetic fiber that is made to look and feel similar to silk. Artificial silk can also be made from bamboo, which is why it can also be called "Bamboo Silk."
Artificial silk can be made out of rayon, nylon, polyester, or even wood pulp and costs much less than real silk.
Four Ply Silk
4 ply silk received its name because it is made by twisting four singular strands into one individual yarn of silk, which gives 4 ply a tremendous amount of strength and durability.
4 ply silk ranges from medium to heavy weight, is machine woven, and is often used in dress making and bridal wear. 4 ply silk carries a bright sheen that is best maintained by hand washing the fabric, as opposed to machine washing it.
Taffeta is a textile that is most typically made out of silk, but is also made with nylon, polyester, and other synthetics. Taffeta silk can range from light to medium weight, is made with a plain weave, and has a bright sheen.
Although Taffeta is a smooth fabric with a bright sheen, it is also crisp and somewhat stiff. Taffeta is often used to make corsets, linings, gowns, or home decor products such as window curtains.
Silk twill is made using a twill weave, which has the unique look of having diagonal lines across the smooth, dull surface.
Silk Twill ranges from being light to middle weight, and is an ideal textile for digital printing and patterns. Silk twill is an excellent fabric that is typically used to make shirts, dresses, and blouses.
Spun silk is created by twisting together short length silk strands that were broken, discarded, or damaged during processing.
Shot silk is made from warp and weft yarns that are two or more different colors which produces an iridescent appearance. Iridescent is described by Oxford Languages as "showing luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles."
Shot silk has been used for centuries, and dates back to times in the 7th century. Shot silk is often used to make academic robes as well as neckties.
The term "shot" also makes reference to the usage of the metallic threads that are woven into the fabric.
Thai silk is simply a name given to any type of silk textile that is produced in Thailand by native Thai Silkworms of various types.
Silk originating from Thailand is most often Mulberry Silk and Eli Silk. Thai Silk is typically printed and patterned a very unique and distinct way, setting it apart from other types of silk produced elsewhere in the world.
Cotton Silk is a blend of the two famous fibers and aims to merge the positive characteristics of both textiles into one.
Cotton silk fabric can be made to have a matte or sheen surface, but is typically more dull and does not have the vibrant shimmer that pure silk possesses.
Cotton silk is heavier than pure silk but it is still lightweight compare to most other fabrics. Cotton silk can be used to make a wide range of garments, is easy to maintain, and has a long life span.
Silk Wool is, as you can probably guess, a blend of silk and wool! These two fibers combine to embody a lot of their respective qualities such as warmth, breathability, absorbency, wrinkle free, and somewhat lightweight.
Silk Wool has less of the itchy feeling that sometimes comes when wearing wool. Silk Wool has a lustrous outside surface and is used for items such as home wear, bridal wear, and sportswear.
Chirimen is a silk fabric with a plain weave that is similar to crepe silk. Chirimen was most popularly produced in a white color, but has the ability to be re-dyed multiple times, which allows for a rich and vibrant color to be added.
The most distinguishing feature of Chirimen silk is the unique crimped surface that is less prone to wrinkling and creases. This special crimped texture helps to diffuse the light that hits its surface, which creates beautiful colors and sheen.
Chirimen silk has an extremely soft touch and is also very durable.
Fuji silk can be medium to heavy weight and typically comes with a creamy white color, although it has the ability to dye easily to achieve other deep and vibrant shades.
Fuji silk was first used to make kimonos in Japan, where it originated from. Fuji silk has a subtle sheen with a good drape. These days Fuji silk is typically used for garment lining.
Tsumugi silk is from Japan and is nearly the same are Silk Noil. Tsumugi silk, like Silk Noil, is made from silk waste and has a dull, uneven texture.
Tsumugi Silk is famous for its use in making Japanese Kimonos, which were light, soft, and had incredible heat insulation. These days, Tsumugi Silk is often used in scarfs and head wraps.
Tsumugi silk is an extremely durable textile that is resistant to damage and has a long life expectancy. Tsumugi is a very famous fabric throughout Japanese history and its rumored that it can take up to 15 days to weave enough Tsumugi for one adult sized garment.
Chichibu-meisen Silk is a special Japanese textile that is known for its bright and bold designs. Chichibu-meisen comes from the city of Chichibu which is in Saitama Prefecture in Japan.
This textile has a plain weave and has an equal dye on both sides. This double sidedness made the fabric extremely popular because of its incredible durability that allowed it to be made into a kimono several times over.
Chichibu-meisen has a colorful sheen because the warp and weft threads are both different colors, which makes the fabric iridescent.
Tussah Silk is produced in a small number of countries in South Asia, however Tussah is mainly produced in India. Tussah is a wild silk and has much different qualities than farmed silk.
Tussah is heavyweight, textured, coarse, and has an uneven surface with a unique ribbing pattern.
Tussah silk is only available in a small number of different colors, but is mainly seen with a light golden hue.
Tussah silk also goes by a number of other names including: tassar, tussah, tussur, or tasar.
Eri silk is a durable and strong silk that is typically produced in the North East region of India, as well as some parts of Thailand, Japan, and China.
Eri silk is a preferred textile for Vegans and Buddhists because after the worm is done spinning its cocoon it leaves the structure and flies off as a moth. During the production of other silks, such as Mulberry silk, the silkworm dies in its cocoon during thread extraction.
Matka is a silk textile from India that usually comes from the states of Karnataka and Kashmir. Matka often has a rough, uneven surface that makes it feel a bit like tweed.
The surface of Matka silk lacks sheen and is quite dull, however the fabric still feels breezy, comfortable, and soft. Matka is a heavyweight silk fabric and can be used to make jackets, blazers, pants, dresses, drapes and more. Matka is very malleable and is a popular choice among seamstresses because it is easy to work with.
Garad silk is a popular style of saree originating in Bengal. The word Garad (also Gorod) refers to a white silk fabric that has never been dyed before.
Garad Silk Sarees are known for their famous red border and small patterns throughout. Garad is often produced using Mulberry or Tussah Silk and is often worn during special events or religious ceremonies.
Jamawar originates in Kashmir and can also be spelled as Jamavar. Jamawar is a pashmina silk that also contrains a blend of cotton and wool.
Jamawar is used to keep warm during the cold winter months and typically uses a range of bright hues and colors in its design which give this textile a distinct look and feel.
Banarasi, also known as Benarasi Silk, was originally used for sarees given to Royalty that were made using real gold and silver threads that supposedly took up to one year to produce.
Banarasi is a variant of silk and comes from Uttar Pradesh in India. This textile is known for its unique patterns, designs, and motifs, and has been extremely popular across India for many years.
Bangalore Silk is unsurprisingly categorized as any silk fabric that is produced in Karnataka state's capital city; Bangalore.
Silk production is a relatively new industry in Bangalore as the first silk farms in the this region were formed only about 100 years ago.
Bangalore Silk is known for is simple designs and precise processes.
Pochampally is made in a city appropriately named Bhoodan Pochampally which is in Telangana State in the south of India. Pochampally is known for its one-of-a-kind design style, that features geometric patterns and designs that are woven directly on to the fabric.
The cabin crew of one of the India's national airline carriers, Air India, don the Pochampally silk fabric saree. Pochampally is a mix of silk and cotton.
Mysore silk comes exclusively from the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation, or KSIC, which owns the country's oldest silk producing facility.
Mysore Silk has a very distinct weave and is smooth to touch. Most sarees use designs that have colorful geometric patterns or bright flowers on the fabric, however Mysore Silk Sarees have a uniquely minimalistic design, which makes it stand out.
Mysore silk is an elegant fabric that has a plain single color base and a narrow strip of gold zari along the borders at both ends.
Kosa Silk is a variety of Tussah silk that is produced exclusively in India and is known for its golden brown colors. Kosa silk is known for its unique texture as well as its stability and strength.
Kosa Silk Sarees are quite popular among women in India, and its is rumored that one Kosa saree can take up to 5 days to produce. Kosa Silks original color is a golden brown but the textile can be found with other natural colors such as orange, cream, fawn, or dark honey.
Muga silk comes from northeast India in a state known as Assam. Muga is India's most rare and expensive silk, and is produced exclusively in Assan.
Muga silk is naturally a golden yellow color that does not require dying to achieve its appearance. Muga is extremely durable, glossy, and strong
Muga silk is often used for saree making as well as bridal wear. Muga silk requires an astounding 8000 silkworm cocoons to produce 1000 grams of fiber, which is the amount of fiber necessary to produce just one single saree.
Sournachuri is a very unique Indian silk that is produced in West Bengal. The Sournachuri silk is often compared to its sister fabric, Baluchuri, which is almost identical in every way except one. The difference is that Sournachuri uses a gold thread when weaving, whereas Baluchuri does not.
Sournachuri silk has a rich sheen and intricate patterns that can tell a whole story through symbol. Sournachuri sarees are now so rare that they have almost become extinct. This is because of the lack of master weavers available to produce the textile. Producing one single Sournachuri saree can take up to 110 hours of work by a master weaver.
Angora silk is an incredibly soft fabric made from the fur of an Angora Rabbit.
The four types of Angora rabbits are: Satin, French, English, and Giant.
Dharmavaram Silk comes the south-eastern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh, India. This fabric is known for its heavily colored golden borders and phenomenal artwork that is printed on it.
Narayanpet Silk has been around since the 17th century with processing methods having been passed down from generation to generation by the weaving community in the town the fabric is named after, Narayanpet.
This silk has a very unique style that features bright colors and lots of embroidery. Narayanpet Silk is lightweight and can be worn year round.
Pat Silk hails from the north eastern Indian state of Assam. This durable, high quality, and light weight textile is known for its sheen off-white color.