Hi all. Silk is probably my most favourite of all the furnishing cloths. Unfortunately it is one of the more costly, tricky to work and live with due to its properties (see blog FABRIC FLARE (the basics)
From its texture to its luxurious sheen. Even the silk that doesn’t have a sheen has a drape that I go week at the knees for.
This post is going to explore the application of silk in interiors.
Enjoy the read
THE SILK ROAD
This was the original trade route through regions of Asia.
Extending 6,000 kilometres (4,000 miles), the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length, during the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE).
For more than two thousand years the Chinese kept the secret of silk altogether to themselves. It was the most zealously guarded secret in history. Next to the protection of tea cultivation.
According to well-established Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi, wife of Emperor Huang Ti (also called the Yellow Emperor), was the first person to accidentally discover silk as weavable fibre.
One day, when the empress was sipping tea under a mulberry tree, a cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel. The empress became so enamored with the shimmering threads, she discovered their source, the Bombyx mori silkworm found in the white mulberry. The empress soon developed sericulture, the cultivation of silkworms, and invented the reel and loom. Thus began the history of silk.
Whether or not the legend is accurate, it is certain that the earliest surviving references to silk history and production place it in China; and that for nearly 3 millennia, the Chinese had a global monopoly on silk production.
The major silk producers are still in Asia, accounting for 90 % of mulberry silk and 100 % for non mulberry silk, but also silk is produced in Brazil,Bulgaria, Egypt and Madagascar . The main raw silk producers in the world are China and India, but also Brazil and Thailand have their share of silk production.
If you want to learn more about the history of silk go to http://www.texeresilk.com .
Silk is a wonderful looking fibre it has its ups and downs.
- Strong filament.
- Elastic and resilient.
- Refracts light, lustrous appearance.
- Easy to die.
- Watermarks easily.
- Rots in sunlight.
- Fades in sunlight.
This was a raw silk by Swaffer http://www.swaffer.co.uk/ that is sadly now no longer in production.
Curtains By E.D.Wolfe
Interlined and lined, double pleat with contrast leading edge and “pin trim“. (A pin trim is when you insert a piped trim between a leading edge and the main cloth then pull out the cord. Giving you this lovely thin contrast)
As you can see, great for blinds and curtains. It was wonderful to work with. At first glance it looks like a thin linen, but when you touch it, it is wonderfully soft and supple. My workroom made a comment of how fantastic this fabric was to work with.
HOW TO WORK WITH SILK
When working with silk it is strongly recommended that you hand stitch where possible, it makes for a far neater finish especially the hem. Also with interlining being required you would have to hand slip the sides and hems to stop puckering and tension issues.
Due to silk being a light weight fabric that is also susceptible to fading, interlining is required to add weight to the curtains and blinds and an extra barrier against the sun damage.
Whiteheads Silk 101 http://www.whiteheadshome.co.uk/
Without interlining the silk would appear thin and limp. And to be honest they look awful in my opinion.
I would never personally recommend silk used in an area that got a lot of sun, eg:- south facing room and or window, conservatory and I would never recommend it was used on upholstery, it would not last five mins. I have seen it used on the odd chair for pure decoration though.
When manufactured correctly they look beautiful and can be used to manufacture many styles, modern and traditional.
When making throws with silk I would line and at least lightweight interline. Do make clients aware that it is a decorative item only,it will not stand up to even medium wear and tear.
You have to really watch manufacturing with silk velvets, they can be very slippery. It takes a highly skilled seamstress to handle this type of cloth.
One of these fabrics is a silk,viscose velvet. It has so much movement you cant make it into blinds and the curtains have to be pooled because it relaxes so much. It is however one of my utmost favourites. Intaglio Collection by James Brindley
Intaglio Cashmere. http://www.jamesbrindleyfabrics.com
Three Designs above by www.darleydesign.co.uk in Stellar by James Brindley
I have even put lining on the back of silk to turn them into cushions for extra strength.
Cushions from http://www.notonthehighstreet.com
James Hare Silk www.james–hare.com
They also look great with trims.
Curtains Manufactured and Designed by http://www.foxridgeinteriors.com/
Unfortunately I would advise against cleaning interlined silk curtains most times the results would be dreadful. They also must be kept out of damp areas such as bathrooms, mould loves silk.
There are several different types of silk and they all vary in appearance, quality and benefits. Some have short filaments and some long strong ones. All are beautiful.
Charmeuse, Chiffon, Crêpe de Chine, Dupion Silk, Fuji Silk, Habotai Silk, Noil Silk (raw silk) and Tussah Silk (or shantung).
Companies are using silk mixes at the moment to reduce the down sides to silk but keep the luxury. In fact there are quite a few combination fibre fabrics that are very convincing faux silks.
INOUI by Casamance
73% VISCOSE, 17% SILK, 10% WOOL
The choice of silk these days is amazing. Printed, plain, embroidered, shiny, shot, matt. There is a silk for every occasion.
Harlequin Fabrics Saphora . Double pleat interlined 3 inch kick onto floor. Master Bedroom
Plain Silk curtains and Pelmet. Designed By Uber Interiors
Curtains Manufactured and Designed by http://www.foxridgeinteriors.com/
Great embroidered Voyage silk. I made some great dining room curtains out of this a year back, they looked wonderful.
You sometimes have to watch the embroidered silks. If there is a lot of embroidery on them they tend to have ripples between the stitching. This will not necessarily disappear during manufacturing. It can be a problem when making curtains with a pelmet. You make the pelmet and due to the pulling of the cloth in manufacturing the ripples are smoothed out, however they will have remained in the curtains, thus the same fabric can take on a different appearance textually. (Something clients need to be aware of).
I designed a pelmet curtain combo a few years back. The pelmet was a gradual bow curve. In this case the ripples came in handy because when you curve a pelmet it ripples the fabric. With the ripples already being there, there was no issue.
I hope you have enjoyed our brief romance with silk?
Till next time.
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