Probably the most beautiful, delicate and lustrous material ever created.
Silk dates back thousands of years and is still prized today as one of the most valuable and luxurious fabrics. After all these years, the methods of silk production have changed very little.
Although the technology of production methods has advanced, silk production is still a labor-intensive process that involves a lot of hard work.
What is silk made of?
A wide variety of insects are currently used to produce silk, but the most commonly used species are the larvae of the “bombyx mori”.
These incredible silkworms produce one of the most sought after materials with so many great properties.
Silk is lustrous and lightweight, yet extremely strong, and a single filament of silk is stronger than an equivalent filament of steel.
It is a term referring to the process of collecting silkworms, harvesting cocoons, and gathering materials.
Female silk moths lay about 300 to 500 eggs at a time. These eggs eventually hatch to form silkworms, which hatch into larvae (caterpillars) in a controlled environment.
Silkworms continue to eat large amounts of mulberry leaves to encourage their growth. It takes about 6 weeks to reach full potential (about 3 inches). At this point, they stop eating and start raising their heads – that’s when the cocoon is ready to spin.
Attached to a fixed frame or tree, the silkworm begins spinning its silk cocoon by rotating its body in a figure-eight pattern about 300,000 times. This process takes approximately 3-8 days. Each silkworm produces only one silk thread about 100 meters long, bound by a type of natural rubber called sericin.
Once the silkworm has spun the cocoon, it is finally time to wrap yourself in the cocoon and take out the silk thread.
Place the cocoons in boiling water to soften and dissolve the rubber that holds the cocoons together. .
Each thread is then carefully reeled from the cocoon into individual long threads and wound onto a reel. Sericin may remain in the thread to protect the fiber during processing, but is usually washed off with soap and hot water.
After washing and scouring, the silk thread is bleached and dried before entering the dyeing process.
Traditional silk dyeing techniques use dyes from natural sources in the surrounding environment, such as fruit and indigo leaves.
A bundle of thread is soaked in a pot containing hot indigo leaves and water. This process is repeated many times over several days to ensure the right shade and quality.
However, these traditional dyeing methods have all but disappeared in the commercial production of silk. Due to technological advances, manufacturers are choosing to use a variety of dyes instead, such as acid dyes and reactive dyes.This provides more color and shade options to meet a wider range of demands. .
That said, the general idea behind the technique is the same in that the silk is dipped in a dye bath to absorb the color. The silk is either fed into the bath via two cylinders or fixed to a round fixture that is immersed in the bath.
Manufacturers often prefer piece dyeing to reduce waste, so this will be one of the last steps in the process. By keeping solid white inventory ready for dyeing, we avoid having to overstock certain colors that are not ordered and may go unused.
Here at Biddle Sawyer Silks, we keep large quantities of silks in a wide variety of colors for immediate service with next-day delivery of silks we already have in stock.We also offer our own bespoke color palettes and wrap We also work with clients who can match samples via dip.
The traditional spinning wheel has been and will always be an integral part of the silk production process.Modern industrial processes have made it possible to spin silk yarn much faster, but it is simply a classic spinning wheel. It just mimics the functionality of .
The process of spinning basically unwinds the dyed fibers onto bobbins and flattens them ready for the weaving process. This can be done in a number of ways, from hand spinning to ring spinning to mule spinning.
Weaving is the process of putting together the last pieces of silk. There are many different ways to weave silk. Satin weave, plain weave, and open weave are the most common, and silk finishes vary depending on the weave.
Generally, weaving involves interlacing two sets of threads that intertwine with each other to create a strong, uniform fabric. The threads are woven at right angles to each other and the two different angles are called warp and weft. The warp threads run up and down the fabric and the weft threads cross the fabric.
If you need a special pattern or design on the silk, it should be printed after pretreatment.This can be done in two ways: digital printing or screen printing.
Digital silk printing uses a specially designed textile printer to transfer hand drawn or digitally created artwork onto fabric using ink.
Screen-printing is a traditional, more hands-on method of creating essentially the same result, but in some cases, a thicker application of ink can result in a bolder, more vibrant look.
Silk must be finished to be considered ready for use. Finishing the silk gives it a very lustrous sheen that it is commonly known for, which is why it can achieve the desired look and feel.
Mainly by applying various chemical treatments many valuable properties such as fire resistance and wrinkle resistance can be added.