| To know the different
types of silks and its
characteristics, it is interesting to know more about the differents
textile materials and fibers.
A textile fibers classification can be made depending on their
Any fabric involves a textile production process (and so does silk):
- Fist of all, it is the production of the raw material, which is different for each
type of fiber (by farmers for plant fibers, by breeder for animal fibers, by chemists for chemical
- Once the raw material is obtained, fiber processing must be done.
The cotton fiber, the fleece from the sheep, and the flax must be processed to be made ready for
the spinning plant: they must be sorted, graded, and scoured, silk must be unwound from cocoons...
- Once the fiber processing is finished, spinning must be done:
long fibers only require to be twisted, but staple fibers must be carded to combine the fibers
into a continuous ropelike form, combed to
straighten the long fibers, and drawn out into continous strands, which are then twisted to the
Long ago, spinning was hand-made, then with a spindle... but from 19th century it is done automatically.
- Now, weaving is done: it can be done by knitting (by hand or mechanized needles)
or by looms. For these last ones, two sets of yarns called the warp and the woof (more commonly
filling, or weft) are used. Warp yarns run along the length of the loom; filling yarns run across it.
Weaving consists of carrying the filling yarns across the loom, interlacing them at right angles
with the warp yarns. Different patterns and textures are achieved by varying the number of warp
yarns and by altering the sequence in which they are raised or lowered.
Dyeing or printing and another finishing processes complete the textile production.
Cloth or fabric is a flexible artificial material made up of a
network of natural or artificial fibres (thread or yarn) formed by weaving or knitting (textiles),
or pressed into felt.
Woven fabrics may be classified in this way:
Simple fabrics: formed by one warp (yarns that run along the length of the loom) and a
woof (filling yarns that run across it).
- Two faced fabrics: formed by either 2 warps and one woof, or 2 woofs and one warp.
- Doubled fabrics: formed by 2 simple fabrics, composed by 2 warps and 2 woofs, tied together
by different ways.
- Multiple fabrics: formed by various simple fabrics, tied together. They are used in tapestry.
Velvets and corduroys:
produced by a combination of the plain weave and the use of wires to draw from the cloth additional
warp or filling yarn, forming cut loops that create the pile.
The names of the weaves indicate a method of interlacing threads rather than fiber content.
Any fiber or combination of fibers may be used for any type of weave. Some weaves initially were
associated only with one particular fiber, as in the case of taffeta and satin, which were made
of silk; serge, a twill weave formerly restricted to wool; and denim, a twill originally made only
of cotton. Present-day production includes nylon taffetas, cotton satins, silk serge, and denims
of blended fiber yarns.
Woven fabrics (silk is one of them) are defined by variations in the weaving patterns,
produced by the way warp and woof are interlaced, varying the number of warp yarns and by
altering the sequence in which they are raised or lowered.
This interlacing may be simple or compound. The most simple weaving patterns are plain or taffeta
weaves, twill weaves and satin weaves.
Taffeta or plain weaves: From the Persian tâftah, twist, täfteh,
It is the basic weaving pattern: the weft and warp threads intertwine alternately to produce the
checkerboard effect. The look of the fabric back and front is the same.
Usually, it is made of silk or cotton, with a silk touch and iridescent look, used to evening dresses
and some coats.
Familiar names for fabrics in plain weave are batiste, broadcloth, calico, cambric, crepe, challis,
cheesecloth, chintz, muslin, organdie, percale, seersucker, voile, and tweed.
Variations of the plain weave are the basket and the ribbed weave. Monk's cloth, oxford shirting,
and plaids are examples of the basket weave; poplins, bengalines, and piques are ribbed weaves.
The twill weave is characterized by marked diagonal lines produced by the interlacing of two warp
threads with one filling thread in alternate rows, producing the effect of parallel diagonal ribs.
This wale, or cord, effect may be observed in such twills as herringbone, serge, worsted cheviot,
jersey, foulard, covert cloth, gabardine, ticking, jean, and drill. The twill weave provides the
cloth with superior strength, desirable for work clothes and suits.
Satin weaves: From Latin seta, silk, or the Chinese port of Chüanchow, formerly
Zaytun, from where these clothes began to be exported in the Middle Ages.
Satin is a basic weave construction with the interlacing og the threads so arranged that the
face of the cloth is covered with warp yarn or filling yarn and no twill line is distinguishable,
giving a smooth compact surface. This smoothness and this reflection of light are the main characteristics,
but they are achieved at the cost of strength: so they are subject to more abrasion. This is due to
the minimum interlacing: the filling yarns are passed over a succession of warp yarns, and the filling
yarns are weaker than the warp.
Satin weaves use to be silk ones, warp silk or cotton ones, but always with plain and
bright surface. Formerly they were used to women dresses and decoration. The best-known satin
weaves are the crepe satin, peau de soie, sateen and damasks.