One of the most common questions that we get at DrapeStyle is about our different silk fabrics. We offer three types of silk, all of which are perfect for making beautiful silk drape but each have slightly different characteristics. All of our Silks are 100% natural silk fabrics. They do not contain polyester or other fibers that are often woven into silk. When Polyester is woven into Silk it obviously reduces the purity of the silk and ultimately it’s value. On occasion we will offer a “Silk / Linen Blend” where fibers of silk and linen are blended together. These are fairly common fabrics and have some very unique qualities that many Designers like. For now, we are just going to describe our two primary silk fabrics.
Silk Fabrics are woven from raw silk that is produced from silk worms. The vast majority of raw silk production comes from China where they have been harvesting raw silk for thousands of years. About 200 years ago some raw silk production began to migrate to Thailand. Thailand is now a fairly large supplier of Raw Silk to the Global Markets and is considered to be “decent” quality. Most of Thailand’s premium quality silk stays within its own Country where it is used for silk textiles, primarily clothing.
Most experts would agree that the finest Raw Silk in the World is still produced in China. Once the raw silk is produced, however, it is shipped to India to be woven into fabrics. Although China is the World Leader in Raw Silk Production, they do not weave very much silk fabric at all.
When India receives that Raw Silk from China it is graded and then woven into a variety of Silk Fabric types:
Dupioni Silk Fabric: Dupioni Fabric is a bit less refined than Taffeta Silk and is used word-wide in textile manufacturing. The Dupioni Fabric can either be hand-woven or machine-woven and is distinguished from it’s close relative Taffeta Silk by the signature “Slubs” which are present on the fabric. These Slubs are just the natural build-up of raw silk that is present when the raw silk is spun into silk thread. When silk thread is destined to be woven into Dupioni Fabric than the Slubs are left in the thread which is then woven into fabric. The result is a fabric with numerous bumps created by the slubs. Silk Dupioni is used in garment production all over the world and is the primary fabric used in home furnishings including upholstery and, of course, silk drapes.
Taffeta Silk Fabric: The primary difference between Dupioni and Taffeta fabric is that the Slubs are removed prior to the fabric being woven. The extra step of production takes the raw silk thread and refines it removing all of the slubs so that all of the thread is uniform in thickness and quality. This extra step also gives the thread more sheen and makes it a bit stiffer than Dupioni. When the Taffeta Thread is woven into Taffeta Fabric the result is a cleaner and crisper fabric with a higher sheen. Because Taffeta goes through more “processing” it also generally costs about 20% more than Dupioni. Silk Taffeta is very often used for the manufacturing of wedding dresses as well as home furnishings. Because of the sheen and texture of Taffeta it is also a very popular choice for making Taffeta Silk Drapes throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.