There are many different types of silk. There are different kinds of silk caterpillars, they are fed different kinds of diets, and they are harvested in different ways. In addition, each of these different types of silk fibers can be woven in many different weaves, patterns, and weights. With so many, it can get confusing trying to keep them all straight. Here's a little intro to the kinds of silk we use at Foxglove Reyen Designs.
Most of our silks are derived from the silkworm Bombyx mori which are fed on Mulberry leaves. The fibers are long, so the resulting fabric is smooth with no slubs where the silk fibers are joined.
We also use Tussah (or Tusar) silks derived from Antherae pernyi. Fibers from these worms are short, so there are lots of slubs where the fibers are joined. These silks are highly textured and patterned.
In addition to the different types of silk fibers, we use a variety of weaves. Here is a mini dictionary describing the different silk weaves that we use.
Bubble Silk is 98% China silk with 2% lycra woven throughout the the warp (lengthwise threads) and the weft (threads that run crosswise). The result is a wonderfully fun, crinkly, bubbly texture that stretches. It's a wonderful fabric for arm warmers and hats.
Burn Out Velvet is a medium weight fabric in which a mixed-fiber material of silk (a protein fiber) is woven as a transparent background and rayon (a cellulose fiber) is woven into the fabric as a pile or nap. This material then undergoes a chemical process to dissolve the cellulose fibers, creating a plush pattern against more solidly woven silk fabric.
Charmeuse is a lightweight fabric with a satin weave, The warp threads cross over four or more of the backing (weft) threads. These float threads give the front of the fabric a smooth finish—lustrous and reflective—whereas the back has a dull finish.
Chiffon is a sheer, lightweight fabric woven of alternate S – and Z – twist crepe (high-twist) threads.The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel. Smooth Chiffon is made with high-twist threads like regular chiffon, but without the alternating twists. It gives the fabric a smooth finish that does not stretch.
Crepe de Chine Is a luxurious, light fabric with a crimped, rippled appearance. It is made with a silk warp and high-twist silk fiber filling.
Devore Satin is a medium weight fabric in which a mixed-fiber material of silk (a protein fiber) is woven as a transparent background and rayon (a cellulose fiber) is woven into the fabric as a shiny satin. This material then undergoes a chemical process to dissolve the cellulose fibers, creating a shimmery pattern against the more solidly woven silk fabric.
Habotai or China Silk “habotai translates literally as "feather-two-layer") It is a smooth, lightweight to mid weight, shimmering material.
Jacquard Weave is a medium to heavy weight fabric in which the design is incorporated into the weave. It appears as a subtle pattern when dyed.
Paj is a smooth, shimmery, plain-wovern like Habotai, but is much lighter, airier, and more sheer.
Raw Silk Noil is made from the short fibers left over from spinning silk. It has a slubby texture, and, while it appears rough, is incredibly soft,