Silk. We know that silk has long been regarded as one of the most luxurious of fabrics. It was once exclusive to aristocrats, First Ladies and royalty, being that it was and still is expensive and ever so tedious to produce. There are many different types of fabrics derived from silk fibers such as Georgette, Chiffon, and Organza to name a few. But lets start with a little background on the fiber itself.
|Sericulture refers to the raising of silkworms for the production of reeled silk. Silkworms are the caterpillars of the Bombyx mori moth. These caterpillars must be fed a proper diet of the white leave mulberry to ensure the filament can be unwound from the cocoon in a single unbroken strand. To ensure that the pupa inside does not emerge as a moth and mar the filament, they are stifled with steam or heat. In many cultures, the silk worms are then prepared in different ways as a local delicacy.|
After harvesting the silk cocoons, they are brushed and cleaned in preparation to be unwound and spun into yarns, which would later be woven into fabric. Silk doupionini and silk shantung are widely recognized as the golden standard of silk, but are often misinterpreted.
|Doupionini (Dupioni) is Italian silk of a fine caliber finished with a substantial hand. Originally, Doupionini was named for having been produced from double cocoons that are nested together. The double cocoons account for the uneven and irregular slubbing. When silk was once produced from wild cocoons alone, this would have been the most expensive due to the fact that this double nesting is a rare naturally occurring coincidence. Today this fabric type can be produced from man-made fibers such as polyester or acetate.|
Shantung silk is Chinese and originates from the Shandong province of China. The slubs are less textural in shantung, however it does have visible striations. Overall shantung is slightly thinner and less irregular than doupionini. Shantung is considered the midpoint between a drapable silk charmeuse and a stiff doupionini. Each fabric has a rough surface although neither is unpleasant.
An unfamiliar hand may not spot the difference between the two right away, however a quick trip to Mood Fabrics will have you putting your knowledge to the test. After collecting some swatches you can conduct a side-by-side comparison until you are dreaming of silk amid your sheets. Although each material is alluring in their own way, doupionini and shantung possess different properties that result in different intended uses. Doupionini creates a similar sound to taffeta and will not work for applications that require a textile with superior drape. At times silk shantung can almost appear to cascade and it has an easier drape than doupionini. Each can be fashioned into exquisite ensembles for any special occasion, however you must consider which lends itself better to your intended project.