Silk, Artificial Silk and Satin

Silk, Artificial Silk and Satin

What is silk, artificial silk and satin?

First of all, each of these terms means something different and they are definitely not synonymous as it might seem. Secondly, stores or people who want to sell just for sales or simply do not know themselves, take advantage of the ignorance of customers about this, just to sell more. Thus, more and more confusing the consumer who does not know the difference between the terms.

Blog article content

  • Silk fiber and silk fabrics
  • Artificial silk
  • Satin fabric

Article in short 

Silk is a natural fiber obtained from the cocoon of the Mulberry silkworm.

Artificial silk term is mostly used for polyester or viscose fabrics that are soft and shiny and gives resemblance of natural silk. 

Satin is type of fabric weave that gives smooth and shiny one side of the fabric and no shine on the other side. 

From time to time, in conversations with customers, I realize that there is a need for clarification of these terms, because despite the fact that product descriptions indicate the composition of the product, customers still ask whether the specific product is really silk or satin. To which I must reply that it is both silk and satin. That's why at the moment, being in my profession and professional career, I try to tell as clearly as possible.

Then let's get down to unraveling these terms, because this topic is relevant today as it was relevant 10 years ago.


Silk fiber and silk fabrics

Silk is a natural fiber obtained mainly from the cocoon of the Mulberry silkworm. It is a filament fiber, which means that it is a very long fiber - from 500 to 1500 m. 10-13 microns in diameter. It is one of the oldest known and widely used fibers. Silk fiber is soft and smooth, so fabrics will also be soft. Silk can be used in the production of such fabrics as chiffon, organza, mikado, taffeta, satin, velvet, charmeuse, etc. Silk has a distinctive crunch that distinguishes silk from other materials.

When purchasing silk fabric or clothing, the label (tag) will indicate the percentage of silk, for example, 100% silk or 50% silk and 50% linen, etc. options. The percentage composition of the material/garment must be provided by fabric manufacturer and the garment manufacturer.


How to check if the fabric is real silk?

To check if your fabric is really silk or not, the simplest option is to burn a piece of fabric and smell it. Silk is a protein, so the fabric will burn well, much like human hair to a pliable, crumbly ash. Of course, you will not burn clothes in the store, so it is important to look at the clothing labels, because you cannot always visually tell the composition of clothing fabrics, especially if you do not have experience with different types of fabrics.

 Zīdtauriņa kūniņa, zīda šķiedra

1. Mulberry silkworm cocoon


Artificial silk

First of all, it should be said that artificial silk is quite far from natural silk and has nothing to do with natural silk.

Such a term arose at the time when viscose fiber was discovered, which could replace expensive silk. Also, polyester fabric is called artificial silk.

Therefore, the term "artificial silk" should be understood as a polyester or viscose fiber fabric, if it is sufficiently thin, shiny and soft. It is the luster and the softness that are the only properties that give any resemblance to silk. Both viscose fabrics and polyester fabrics can be made very pleasant and soft against the skin, to such an extent that the normal person cannot tell that the material is not natural silk.

Out of personal experience - During my university studies at Riga Technical Univerity, the professors regularly pointed out that there is no such fabric as artificial silk and this term practically means nothing - there is no such fiber and no such type of fabric. There is a polyester fiber and a satin fabric, so avoid using an inappropriate term.


Poliestera diegi

2. Polyester fiber

Are garments labeled as "Artificial silk"?

As I mentioned earlier, the purchased clothing will always have a fiber composition label, for example in this case, 100% viscose or polyester and will never be labeled "artificial silk".

Those who buy fabrics for their creative works and buy natural fiber fabrics, should definitely ask and check in the store whether the fabric in question is silk (or any other). And don't give up if the saleswoman says that a fabric is artificial silk. It is important for you to find out the composition of the fabric and the type of fabric.


Satin fabric

If I talked about silk, polyester and viscose fibers before, then satin is not a fiber.

Mainly fabrics are woven in two directions width (weave) and length (shear). Satin is one of the types of fabric weave - the way the weave crosses the shear. Satin fabric is characterized by smooth and shiny one side of the fabric and no shine on the other side. It is this special satin weave that creates the shine. For context - There are quite a few fabric weaves and the best known are canvas weave, satin weave, jacquard weave and twill weave. Satin fabric is indeed soft, but that doesn't mean it's silk or any way skin friendlier then silk.

Satin made for softness

Satin weave fabrics can be produced from cotton, polyester, silk, etc. Most often, satin fabrics are produced for bed linen precisely because of the soft and shiny surface. If the question is: "What is the composition of this bed linen", then the answer should be about the composition of fibers and not about the type of fabric.

Satīna audums

3. Satin fabric


 Silk Satin

Silk satin is extremely soft, because silk itself is already soft and additionally woven into the satin weave creates an even softer and more slippery feel. This combination is especially beautiful for sewing light silk dresses, blouses and sleepwear, which creates a graceful, luxurious and ultra-fine look.

You may have felt on your skin that satin is very cold. That could be because it is mainly made of polyester fiber, whereas silk satin will feel cool at first, but later it will be very pleasant. This is due to the excellent thermoregulation properties of silk - it will cool down pleasantly in warm weather, but will provide pleasant warmth in cool weather.

In our store section, you will find products from silk satin and silk jacquard fabrics.

Do you have more questions?

You can write your question on this topic in the comments section. You can also suggest a topic of interest.

Used materials, which you can read additionally

Textilepedia from Fashionary. Link to the company page
This is my most opened book :) It's short and focused on the essentials - fibers, sourcing, processing, recycling and fabrics. Fashionary also offers many other fashion-related books and figure illustrations for sketching.

You can read about satin and other fabrics and weaves on Mežroze's website.

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