Silk Fabric: History, Properties, Production Process, Type, Uses

Silk fabric is one of the most popular items in the fabric world. It has a legacy from the ancient period and still has the same acceptance of all ages of people.

Silk Fabric

It’s very well accepted because of its lightweight, low density of the fabric, elasticity, and shine structure properties.

The interesting part of silk is fiber comes from the protein of insects. Silk fabrics are genuinely an investment process where it relies on sericulture cultivation first.

Depending on silkworm, feeding leaves, and atmospheric conditions silk would be classified under various names and groups. Blended with other natural and synthetic fibers create another value of silk textile. We use silk in our daily life in a thousand ways.

To use silk garments for a long time, silks care is also important to know. Though silk is expensive, so you also need to know the methods of silk identify to understand pure silk.

Here is shot and quick data on silk fabrics, to know in detail you need to read this content top to bottom. So read on:

Name of FabricSilk
Fiber SourceSilkworm
Nature of FiberNatural protein fiber
Cultivation method nameSeri culture
Two main compositions of silk fibersilk fibroin of 75%–82%, sericin of 18%–25%
Heat resistanceLow
Moisture absorbencyHigh
Fabric breathabilityHigher than wool, lower than cotton
Color of cocoonsYellowish, Brown, White, Green
Time to dryFast drying
Washing basic methodMild detergent (No bleaching) cool or warmth water
Place of discoverMainland China
Top exporting countryMainland China
ItemsLingerie items, suits, blouses, home textiles, decorative accessories, nightgowns, formal and luxurious wear dresses, Ladies sharee items and so on

History of silk invention

Silk invention has an interesting incident. About 5000 years ago, Princess His Ling Shi discover silk fiber while she was drinking tea in the garden.

A worm Falls into her cup of tea and after a while princess notice that a white, shiny, and thin layer of fiber comes out from that insect’s body.

History of silk invention

That’s the innovation of silk fiber. After that silk reveals to everyone as silk fiber and fabric.

After a few days, the manufacturer understands the production process of silkworm and brings out the filaments from the cocoons.

Soak worms are more species belonging to the genus of bombyx. With this achievement and innovation, China starts a business all around the world with domination as a monopoly supplier of silk.

Origin Of Silk Fabric

Silks origin comes from China at an early age. Silk production was a major industry of China’s chief export in the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD)

Across Central Asia, the Chinese dynasty then took the Arabic gulf to get way into Europe. Starting from Rome it became spread all over Europe and then also Africa. This route was a very popular name based on this silk fabric name, they called it the silk road.

Origin Of Silk Fabric

Han dynasty discovered that modern textile with silk waving tradition and it’s becoming the symbol of luxurious uses.

In the meantime, they are developing soak production and quality.

Silk cultivation then took place in Japan with silkworm egg and silkworm cultivation from 300 AD to 522 AD.

Nowadays 60’s countries in the world are cultivating silk. Here is a list and details about the top producers of them.

Properties Of Silk Fabrics

Properties Of Silk Fabrics

1. Physical properties of silk

Silk is a smooth soft texture and has sleeper properties. Silk is one of the most natural fibers Silk has four elasticity and its elongation properties are quite low.

Color – gray, brown, yellow

Shrinkage – Silk shrinkage percentage is lower than wool. The fabric shrinkage depends on the wash of the clothing item which is made for example if Silk is blended with cotton fabric is different from the 100% of silk fabric. Again, for dry clean shrinkage percentage is quite low.

Tensile strength – Silk is a strong fiber. It has a density of 3.8 to 4.8 gram/den. Wet silk is 70 – 80% stronger than dry silk 

Cross-section – It has a triangular cross-section

Elasticity – 10 to 12 microns depending on the variety of silk

Moisture regains – Silks moisture regain is 10% and also absorbency up to 30%

Heat resistance – Heat resistance is higher than other protein fibers for example wool or resin fiber. Silk can withstand temperatures of 150 degrees centigrade. Silk can decompose at 180 degrees centigrade.

2. Chemical properties of silk

Still have also chemically exuberant with a different condition. For example, acids, basics, alkalis, and different kinds of organic solvents can react differently.

Alkali reaction – Alkali causes less harm or damage to the silk. Weak alkalis for example soap, detergent, borax, and ammonia cause little damage to silk but caustic alkali or caustic soda can dissolve silk.

Acidic reaction – Silk is highly sensitive to acidic reactions. It can dissolve in strong acid.

Organic solution reaction – In general, organic solution or solvent doesn’t make any harm to silk because Silk is not dissolved in that condition.

Types of silk fabric

Types of silk fabric

Silk is the strongest natural fiber that can make a slippery, soft, smooth fabric. Compared to other natural fibers silk has long and stiffness fiber which can produce the best quality fabric.

This is possible to give a different type of color, shade variation, and garments made of silk. Silk can identify as a luxurious experience with high-cost production and price.

From that ancient time to that modern life still silk dominates that market.

1. Mulberry silk

Mulberry silk is the most commonly used silk in the world. This is the most available silk to purchase from any country.

Mulberry silk

Mulberry silk is famous because of its longer unbroken and even silk fiber quality. Almost 90% of silk fabric uses production and purchase has been done with Mulberry silk.

Like other silk fabrics, it has a smooth texture, durability, and slippery hypoallergenic characteristics. Mulberry silk has finer strength and moisture regain from any atmospheric condition.

2. Eri silk

Eri silk is called ” Peace silk” because of its unique nature of production. Avoiding killing silkworms is required to produce Eri silk. It’s mainly found in North East India.

Also, some of part of Japan and China. In this Eri silk process, moths leave the cocoon, and then cocoons are collected to process silk spun. 

3. Tussar silk

Tussar silk

Those are made from wild forest trees. It has some alternative name as Tushar, Tasar, Tussore, and so on. It’s quite a cheaper variety than mulberry silk. In most cases, Tussar silk is found in India.

4. Muga silk

Muga Silk just belongs in India. It’s a kind of domestic produced silkworm like mulberry. The Asam state of India is popular for Muga silk.

Muga silk

This so has a high quality of durability and natural stiffness. This is one of the rarest silk in the world. From muga silk, you can get golden yellow or green silk fiber.

5. Kosa silk

Kosa silk

Kos is a variant of tussar silk. For Kosa silk, Silkworms have to feed oak leaves. This fabric is also available in the world and is famous for being soft smooth and lightweight.

6. Chiffon silk

At the early of silk production chiffon silk was produced with 100% pure silk. After chemical revelation and research in 1956 chiffon Silk is created with a blend of synthetic fibers.

Chiffon silk

Nowadays chiffon fabric is one of the fashionables which has a super version of nylon and polyester blend of chiffon silk.

7. Crepe silk

Crepe silk

This is one of the famous silk in India. Crepe sharee is one of the popular silk items. This type of oven Silk is blended with synthetic fiber to give its longest color absorption properties. Crepe generally plays a commercial role in the silk industry.

8. Organza silk

Organza silk

Organza silk is a plain-woven fabric. This is made of silk and also blended with synthetic fibers such as polyester nylon or acrylic. Organza silk always has to blend with synthetic fiber.

9. Sea silk

From the beginning, silk is found in Europe. This is highly-priced and extremely strong in fiber condition is filaments are also long.

Sea silk

For its golden and brown color formation in natural conditions, sea silk is demandable.

10. Habutai silk

Most of the habutai silky are found in Japan traditionally from the beginning. But nowadays its biggest market is consumed by China. This is the plainest woven silk fabric.

Habutai silk

It also has a name called Ivory China silk. Those silk materials are light and premium so that use for lingerie items.

11. Jersey silk

Jersey silk is made of blended with natural and synthetic fiber. This is because gives a medium weight of the favorite for the small and flat surfaces of woven textile.

Jersey silk

Jersey silk is basically knitted fabric that is made of wool cotton or synthetic fibers blending. This is too much flexible than other silk fabrics.

12. Cotton silk

In terms of silk fabric cotton Silk bring a positive impact of using plane fabric for wearable garments. Cotton Silk is used in a fabulous way all around the world nowadays.

In another sense, you can explain it as a hybrid fabric. Cotton is used for home decorative items, upholstery, scarf, ladies’ dress, pajamas, etc.

13. Taffeta silk

Taffeta is mostly made of polyester, nylon, acrylic, or other synthetic fibers. However, if you can give a hard stiffness with silk fiber then it can be possible to make taffeta silk.

Taffeta silk

Taffeta Silk is not 100% pure silk. It’s smooth but its finished fabric is tight and has a stiff surface

14. Satin silk

Silk satin is one of the good Silk fabric examples. Silk satin can be compared with cotton silk. It’s smooth, soft, and comfortable to use as a bed sheet or pillow cover.

Satin silk

Satin silk has excellent resistance to wrinkle formation and breakage. However, most of the sleepwear is made of satin silk.

15. Dupioni silk

Dupioni silk is one of the unique and customize silk. This is a kind of luxurious fabric it has a good texture and appearance it’s best for use as handwoven.

Dupioni silk has high resistance to wrinkle and durability. It’s famous for its most luxurious and comfortable fabric.

Silk Fabric Production Process

Silk cultivation is namely famous for sericulture. By feeding mulberry leaves to the worm, silk cultivation has to run. It’s an interesting life cycle of those insects. Animal fiber or protein fiber is the main raw material for silk production.

Here is a 7 step-by-step process of silk fabric production from beginning to finish.

1. Sericulture

This is the term where silkworms are harvesting for the cocoons to collect the raw materials of silk. Female silk moths are cultivated first to produce eggs.

Cocoons to Extraction Of Silk Yarn

Around 350 to 600 eggs are possible to lay with female silk moths. Those eggs are hatch for the next to produce silkworms.

Environment condition and controlling for silkworm larvae is the most important thing in the first stage of sericulture. You have to feed mulberry leaves continuously to your silk arms until they grow full size (around 3 inches to inches).

Within 5 – 6 weeks of feeding and treating with a temperate climate, you will get your desired silk cocoon.

Silk cocoon is made when silkworms stop eating and being to raise their heads. They are then attached to a surface of a leaf or tree and rotate the body movement around 25,00000 to 300000 times.

This process takes around 3 to 7 days to complete. Every silk on produces a strand of silk that measures around 80 to 120 meters long and is held together by a type of natural adhesive called sericin.

From that raw material, the fibers come with ultra-soft touch quality that you have to boil in hot water next.

2. Extraction Of Silk Thread

Now it’s time to pull out silk thread from cocoons. Cocoons have to be placed into boiling water to make them soft and dissolve the gum itself attaching with spin.

Silk fibers are light in weight and very soft and ultra-thin. Take a picking up strand which is made of wood or carbon plastic fiber, to sort those thread in an even process to collect together.

Extraction Of Silk Thread

When the fibers come out from cocoons with a continuous process, they place in a single skein to collect and store together.

This process is named reeling. Above 3000 cocoons are needed to produce 1 pound of silk. The color of extracted silk thread would be yellowish, white, or grey sometime.

3. Washing and Dying Silk Yarn

Silk is made of chemically natural polyamide. Has a very rich and high orientation structure of good molecules.

Its dye process is quite easy but there has an enormous chance of damaging silk fiber because of its temperature sensitivity.

For coloration of other fibers yarn for example or cotton or synthetic yarn, the dye chemical and additions are used with the more or less same technique.

Washing and Dying Silk Yarn

Now hang the silk fiber yarn and then slowly put it in mildly hot water which already has the coloration of dyes.

The water pH should not above 5.0. Silk fiber has a cationic character because it comes from protein.

So, you can dye your silk with various kinds of dyes such as metal complex reactive dice acidic, etc.

After giving it dye with color and hot wat6, you have to give it time around 40 to 60 mins to chill and set the color into the yarn.

Whenever you have to wash it, make sure it would be cool or normal temperature water.

4. Silk Yarn Spinning

Silks filaments are very thin so for a good count of silk yarn, you have to put raw yarn and make density. Spun of silk is one of the traditional ways to make silk yarn.

Spun of silk traditional way to silk yarn spinning

For silk yarn, your span rotation speed and machine rpm should be considered for medium to lower because silk yarn fibers are weak.

Silk Yarn Spinning in Factory Modern way

In the spinning process, different types of twist and ply will give you several kinds and types of silk yarn count.

The measurement of yarn count is based on denier (D)

1 denier = 1 gram, containing 8000 – 9000 meters of filament.

5. Silk Weaving To Make Fabric

From the historical reputation of China silk fabric is made of plain weave construction. Warping is the first step of weaving silk fabric.

Silk Weaving To Make Fabric

A horizontal shuttle carrying bobbins of silk yarn. From the waving machine top guide, the left and right parts of shuttle movement wrap and weft yarns are intersections between themselves.

This is the basic way to make Silk wave plain fabric. A power loom can continuously process silk fabric weaving for 8 to 10 hours at a glance.

6. Printing On Silk Fabric

Well, Silk fabric printing plays an important role in the presentation in the textile industry.

 Printing On Silk Fabric

Block printing, digital printing, screen printing, and heat transfer printing are almost popular methods of printing on silk fabric.

Dyes on silk fabric cause its physical changes with weight and then also with characteristics of silk.

Day by day technology is developing and nowadays digital printing takes the majority of printing through acid dying is very attractive for silk fabric.

7. Finishing The Production Process

Silk fabric finishing relays on its development process. The finishing process is based on clearing the emulsion waxing or external dust from inside and outside of the fabric layer. Silk fabric is very soft and slippery, so it’s necessary to give a rap and moisture-free pressing treatment in a silicon rubber pressed machine.


Again, to provide the event tension and texture are necessary to give tension to the silk fabrics part.

On the other hand, if you are thinking of giving a chemical finishing to Silk fabric then you have to maintain our steaming temperature with catalysis agent concentration over the fabric.

However, giving and laundry of silk fabric at the end is important to keep its physical properties and durability at a constant rate.

Uses of silk fabrics

The uses of silk fabric are practically endless to describe. We use silk fabric in our daily life occasionally or permanently.

Silk fabrics are used in our world in so many different ways. From young age people, wearable fashion design clothes to industrial uses of bulk production everywhere Silk is important.

From the beginning of modern civilization, silk is mostly used as a women’s fashion costume.

Uses of silk fabrics

That soft, smooth, and lustrous fabric of silk contains the image of prestigious from that time. Lingerie items, suits, pajamas, Indian saree, blouses, women’s scarfs, and so many things are made of made from Silk.

Some of those majors Silk fabric uses are given below:

1. As a Home textile

In-home textile silk fabric has the enormous majority of use. Sofa covers, bed sheets, pillow covers, window covers, mat seats everything is possibly made of silk.

However, you can use them furthermore to use the home interior. Different kinds of color or printing designs make your home textile more decorative with silk fabric.

Upholstery silk is used as furniture cover because of its strength and fiber durability. It’s also proved that these types of silk fabric give a long-lasting covering of furniture.

2. Use as decorative accessories

Silk fabric is the symbol of luxurious class use as ties and scarfs. This is an ideal use of formal dress.

For girls, it is used as a scarf tightly fabric to bond with dress attaching and so more.

Silk fabric can contain high color with woven pattern and also very light in weight so as decorative accessories for formal dress-up so the fabric is one of the best choices for everyone.

3. Formal dress-up

You cannot imagine a bridal dress without a beautiful Silk-made dress. Long dress with huge decorative of a large amount of silk fabric which is made of only Silk because of lightweight.

Silk’s laughter else appearance makes the bridal gowns more attractive than other fabrics. Silk’s glossy and shiny property is the main thing to attract. Again, formal men’s shirt is also very pleasant to see and comfortable to wear.

Which fabric might be the alternative to silk?

This is one of the common questions in the textile world. Since silk is very expensive and cannot be affordable all-time so always have to prepare an alternative to compete with it.

This is proven with all scientific research that viscose could be the replacement or alternative to silk fabric.

Viscose is a semi-synthetic rayon fabric that also has that smooth and luxurious feel like silk. On the other hand, viscose favorite is cheap and affordable. This is its best advantage.

Silk fabric impact on the environment

Silk is a natural and sustainable fiber known everywhere. The process of sericulture is also not harmful to the environment.

Silk fabric impact on the environment

But in some cases, it causes a negative impact on cultivation because cutting mulberry trees or leaves to feed silkworms for a long time.

However, to harvest mulberry leaves or feed leaves for silkworms there does no need for chemical fertilizer. Also, in total sericulture processes, any kind of chemical agent is not used. It’s a totally eco-friendly process.

 Again, making silk fabric takes so much energy from the environment. Silk farms have to keep steady humidity and temperature for hatching and cultivating silkworms.

Is silk production cruel?

To be honest, in some cases silk production is cruel. Some people say that this is the abuse of life. This is because most of the cocoons contain live silkworms inside them.

Boiling live insects is cruel. Research shows that around 7000 silkworms are killed to make just 1 kilogram of silk.

Silkworms are getting mature and become modes inside cocoons. They are supposed to lay eggs. But when it comes to making silk thread, silkworms have to sacrifice their life in boiled water.

How to identify real Silk fabric?

How to identify real Silk fabric?

The touching method is a basic method that identifies real silk. When you touch so fabric it will feel soft slipper and almost waxy feeling.

Some tips are given below to identify real silk.

1. Touching and rubbing 

In this way, you can identify the real silk very easily. Touch the silk and rub with your fingers slowly, you will feel that it’s getting hot.

If the fabric gets hot easily with rubbing with fingers that means this is made of 100% pure silk.

2. Examine with vision

Soak fabrics also can examine with the angle of vision. If you look at the fabric from a 90-degree angle and after that if you see the same position with a 60-degree to 45-degree angle the color particularly appears to change.

3. Burn test

Burn silk is one of the unique tests for identifying pure silk. Silk is animal fiber which means made of protein filament. Take a part of silk fabric or yarn silk and burn it in a fire.

If it smells like hair burning then you will get understand that it is pure silk. After burning you will get black or grey color ash and whenever your burning is finished you will see the flame is removed from the surface of the fabric or yarn.

On the other hand, mixing or blended silk will give a smell like burning plastic and there has no ash.

4. Chemical test

Take a bowl of mixing chemicals of copper sulfate, water, and chlorine bleaching.

Pure silk will dissolve in that solution.

Why silk is expensive?

Why silk is expensive?

From the beginning part of the cultivation of silkworms, we all know that silk is a costly process of production. From raw material to make it plain-woven fabric it crosses so many processes and care. All of this process and cares are costly. The Indian govt. keeps track of the silk fabrics prices, take a look here.

Only 210,450 tons of raw silk are produced globally every year and China is the largest producer of silk with 186,200 tons of production.

India, Japan, and Thailand come after China.

On the other hand, silk fabric production is quite time-consuming because the process of sericulture needs a period of time.

Again, bringing silk thread from cocoons, spinning them to make wave clothing, coloring, printing, and finishing is quite costly. Those make silk fabric expensive in cost.

How can you take care of silk fabric?

Silk clothes need giving extra care than cotton fabrics. If you are thinking of using so favorite for a long time you have to be serious about its washing and ironing. Soak fabric’s longitude depends on how you care for it.

How can you take care of silk fabric?

Let’s talk about some caring tips for silk fabric

Things shouldn’t do 

1. Do not soak silk fabric for a long time because its filament is sensitive to liquid components.

2. High temperature is very much harmful to silk fabric and comes from protein fiber, so it could get damaged with direct temperature from iron or heat press machine.

3. You should not use chlorine bleach on silk fabrics. Chlorine beach is harmful to natural fibers.

Things you should do for silk fabric longevity

1. Always read the care label before washing Silk fabric. Some fabrics are made of pure silk which means 100% of silk. So, you have to be cautious about washing temperature using detergent and spinning the washing machine.

2. Use mild detergent in the state of laundry soap or laundry powder for washing silk fabric.

3. When is time to dry silk fabric do not Rush the process. Give time to silk fabric late dry and also keep it away from direct sunlight for drying.

4. This is better to rinse Silk fabric in cold water.

Final Words

In conclusion, silk fiber fabric is the most demandable fabric of any age. Silk is called the “Queen” of fabrics. It has various importance in our daily life to commercial purposes. About producing Silk fabric have mixed opinions about environmental issues.

However, its positive impact and non-chemical pollution system are encouraging. Silk production could be run in a sustainable way. This ultimate luxury fabric has been accepted all around the world as a symbol of fashion and the luxurious mind of choice.

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