What are some things made of silk

What makes silk so special?

Everything about silk

Silk is a material that is always used when it is supposed to be noble. The extremely fine, exclusive fabric impresses across the board with its sheen and glamor. Noble clothes are made from it and that since the beginning of time. Today's silk comes from China and was made 5,000 years ago. It has spread all over the world and is still more than respected today. But now there is also organic silk. She does not use chemical agents or medication.

To this day, silk is the material you rely on when it is to be classy and glamorous. Its elegance is timeless and classic. In addition, the silky feeling on the skin is very special. The delicate fabric plays with the skin and invites it to new feelings. By the way, silk is also suitable for allergy sufferers, because the material cannot irritate the skin at all. So that you can find out everything there is to know about silk, today we take a very close look at the material. Where does she come from? What is silk anyway? What is the difference between conventional silk and organic silk and what is silk used for? You will be amazed, we promise you! Curtain up on one of the finest materials in the world: silk!

What is silk

Silk is a fiber of animal origin. It is obtained from the cocoons of the silkworm. This fiber is the only fiber in the animal kingdom that comes along in endlessly long threads. It is also made from protein and originally comes from China. China is still the main producer of silk today, but other countries such as India, Japan and Italy have also established themselves in the silk business. In the past, the silk business even boomed in Germany. Krefeld was a main producer. But today silk is more likely to be imported, which has to do with the incredible effort involved in breeding the caterpillars.

Silk yarns, but also silk fabrics and silk powder are made from silk. Silk yarns are particularly impressive because of their robust tear resistance. Silk fabrics are better known to you as brocade, chiffon, crepe de chine, crepe satin, damask, duchesse, dupioni, georgette, ice cream, jacquard, lamé, organza, pleated, satin, taffeta and silk twill. But there are many other fabrics that are made from silk.

The silk powder is often used as an additive in cosmetics. It is used in lipstick, skin creams, but also in soaps. Either way: You have certainly run into soap at some point, even if you did not recognize it as such.

What is the history of silk?

The history of silk is very long. Already in the old Indus civilization, just under 2800 to 1800 BC. It begins. Silk was also known in ancient China, but only in its wild form. Since the 3rd millennium BC The first domesticated silk is said to have originated in BC.

The emperor Fu Xi is said to have had the first idea to use the caterpillars to make clothes. The Shennong Emperor is also said to have taught the people to grow mulberry trees and to cultivate hand to obtain silk and hemp linen.
Approx. 23 to 79 BC Then the trade in Chinese silk is said to have started. In the ancient Mediterranean, Koische silk was made, which is finer and thinner. Little by little it supplanted the Chinese silk that was available everywhere.
Chinese silk came to Rome and Sri Lanka through trade. From there it went to the Indian Ocean and the ancient Egyptian Red Sea port of Berenike. From here the silk was brought up the Nile until it reached Alexandria. Roman traders then took them all over the world. It was often represented in Italy in particular.
It took a full 18 months for the silk to arrive in the ports of Italy. The routes were called the Silk Roads and were increasingly used until the 2nd century AD. The trade route was traced back to Emperor Wudi, the route was marked by detours depending on the political situation, but always existed.
At that time, reloading points were in Herat (Afghanistan), Samarkand (Uzbekistan) and Isahan (Iran). The Greeks brought silk by sea, the Jewish, Armenian and Syrian middlemen by land.
In the Middle Ages, the Chinese were forbidden to take caterpillars or caterpillar eggs out of the country under penalty of death. But two Persian monks managed to smuggle eggs and the knowledge about the production to Constantinople, which means that the production of silk was now also possible outside of China. For example, silk was also extracted in the Byzantine Empire for the first time around 550 AD.

From the 12th century onwards, some centers for silk production established themselves. Italy was a leader in the production of silk. The most colorful silk was dyed in Lucca in the 13th century, which is why mechanical and water-powered silk twisting mills were also used there.
In the 14th century there was political unrest, as a result of which the "companies" had to move. They settled in Venice and started again there.

In modern times, in the 17th to 19th centuries, Zurich, Lyon and Krefeld were important cities for the silk industry. The Von der Leyen family dominated the production and was even allowed to furnish the French Emperor Napoleon and the Prussian King Friedich II. However, the weavers in Krefeld were more and more dissatisfied and so there were uprisings of the silk weavers. They resisted the Von der Leyen family's wage cuts.

From the 19th century, silkworm breeding was promoted in Bavaria. Ludwig I also planted the mulberries, on which the caterpillars feed, in order to bring about an upswing in silk production.
Today silk is more in demand than ever. The great fashion designers all rely on this material and bring it to the catwalk in an infinite number of collections. The fashion industry is no longer conceivable without silk. Fortunately, there is now also organic silk, which will soon take precedence over conventional silk.

What are the properties of the material?

Silk is a fabulous material that shines with shine and glamor. It is not only characterized by its great appearance, but also by its high tear resistance, which allows it to be used in many different areas of application.
It also has an insulating effect against cold and heat and can store up to a third of its weight in water. The fibers swell when they get wet. Due to the swelling of the fibers, silk does not wrinkle much, but water can also get nasty water stains.

But silk is also sensitive. She cannot stand heat and direct sunlight. In addition, it is highly abrasive during washing and otherwise. The fabric is sensitive despite its high tensile strength.
The quality of silk has a lot to do with its weight and delicacy. The finer and lighter the material, the more vulnerable it is. Heavy silk is therefore easier to handle and also easier to wash.
Silk feels wonderfully soft, flowing and pleasant on the skin. It is also suitable for allergy sufferers, as it is a natural product and problems in the form of allergies hardly ever arise.

Positive characteristics:

  • Shines
  • High tear resistance
  • Insulates cold and heat
  • Can store water
  • Little tendency to crease
  • Brilliant colors when coloring
  • Pleasant skin feeling
  • No allergies

Negative characteristics:

  • Water stains
  • No high temperatures
  • Heavy abrasion
  • No direct sunlight

Incidentally, the quality of silk depends heavily on its weight and fineness. The weight is approx. 4.306 g per m² and is called momme. Momme is a Japanese unit of weight that is still used today in silk production. The term pongee is also used frequently. One pongee is equivalent to one momme.
The fineness of the silk is given in denier (den) or tex (dtex). The denier unit is also used for tights. The finer the silk, the lower the den number.

How is silk made?

First, the optimal conditions for silk production must be created so that manufacture is possible. Since we work with animals, these animals also have to feed themselves somehow.
The silkworms feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree, which is why it is often referred to as mulberry silk. However, there are other silkworms that feed on other leaves. This can include oak leaves, for example. Mulberry trees are therefore an integral part of silk production. To get high quality silk, silkworms have to be raised under special conditions. Silk is only created when the silkworms pupate.
They use special glands in their mouths to produce the silk threads that they spin around them in large loops. A caterpillar can need up to 300,000 turns to pupate. The thicker the caterpillar, the thicker its cocoon and the more silk is produced.
When a silkworm hatches, it bites its cocoon to emerge transformed as a motto. But this process is stopped, otherwise the silk would be unusable. With the help of hot water and steam, the caterpillars are killed before they hatch so that they cannot bite their cocoons.

Each cocoon has a long, fine endless belt that is uninterrupted. The endless belt that was produced by the caterpillars is now unwound and reeled. Three to eight cocoons are always unwound at the same time in order to get a silk thread. They stick together because of their silk glue and form a thread. This is called Grége in professional circles.
The silk thread can now be processed into a smooth textile surface. Around 3000 caterpillars have to be killed to obtain 250 grams of silk thread. That is just under one kg of caterpillars with cocoons.
But now the threads are still full of glue. In order for the glue to be removed from the silk, it must be boiled in soapy water. This process is called peeling or deguming. After that, it is pure white, even if it was previously slightly yellow in color. In addition, the threads become shinier, smoother and thinner as a result of cooking.
The silk is then chemically refined by enriching it with metal salts or sulfur dioxide. The metal salts balance the weight of the material, because the threads have become very light when the silk glue was removed. The metal salts make up for this lack of weight. The sulfur dioxide ensures a subtle bleaching, which makes the silk threads look even lighter and more evenly colored.

In which clothing is silk used?

Most of the silk is used in fashion. Silk is being used more and more, especially in luxurious and high-quality designer fashion. There are silk dresses, silk blouses, scarves, but also skirts, blazers and even pants made of silk.
Silk is very popular because it feels super comfortable on the skin. In summer it cools pleasantly and in winter it gives off a warming feeling. So you are never too cold or warm when you use silk.
The fall is flowing, which is why silk is often used for long evening gowns and elegant skirts. It shines beautifully and attracts attention. Ultimately, every piece of clothing can be made from silk.
Traditionally, silk is also used to make carpets. The carpets made of silk shine, are wonderfully robust and tear-resistant. They are soft to the touch and make a great decorative element in the home. Unfortunately, there is also the disadvantage of silk carpets that they are very delicate and expensive. It is sensitive to moisture because the fibers swell and so it is not as robust as a carpet made of wool.

Is there any organic silk?

Yes, of course there is organic silk. But what is special about organic silk? Silk is a natural product anyway and why should it also be organic? The production of silk is not as easy as you might imagine.
It all starts with the leaves of the mulberry tree, which the caterpillars eat. Without these leaves there would be no silk, because later these leaves are transformed into the threads that the silkworms eat and turn into the cocoon from which the silk is then made. But now there can only be organic silk if the mulberry trees are treated according to ecological guidelines. Similar to organic cotton, no pesticides may be used. Defoliant, which causes the leaves to fall off the tree so that workers can more easily harvest the cocoons, is also prohibited.
This is not only good for the caterpillars and the trees, but also for the people who work with them on the plantations, because they do not come into contact with the pesticides. In addition, the caterpillars have to be fed by hand. They don't climb from leaf to leaf to feed. No, you get crushed mulberry leaves directly in front of you. This way the rearing does not take too long. The caterpillars that are used for breeding are also no longer free-living silkworms. They have been bred for millennia to bring good yields and therefore they need humans to survive - and of course a lot of care.
The caterpillars cannot tolerate drafts, vibrations or fluctuations in temperature. They are therefore in closed rooms and can only pick up very small pieces of leaf at first. At the beginning of feeding, the caterpillar needs just under 1.5 grams of feed to be full. Towards the end there are 200 grams of the leaves daily.
The silkworm lives around 40 days before weaving into a cocoon. During this time she sheds her skin four times and then has to be reburied each time. With organic silk, sick animals are taken care of when moving beds. They are then sorted out, because the organic caterpillars must not come into contact with medication, otherwise it would no longer be organic silk.

After the silkworm pupates, it is killed so that it does not destroy the cocoon when it hatches. There is also a difference here to the conventional production of silk. There is a big difference in the processing of the silk thread. Since a lot of weight is lost when cleaning the silk thread because the glue is rinsed out, the silk is very light. Ordinarily she would be complained now. This happens through heavy metals and synthetic resins that accumulate in the silk and make it heavier.
These are metal salts such as tin chloride, sodium phosphate and water glass. If they come into contact with the skin, eyes, mucous membranes and airways, they are irritating. Synthetic resins are also not without it. Formaldehyde can escape from them. It quickly becomes clear that neither is good for the workers on site.
Later the silk will be finished. She gets a refinement. To do this, it is treated with chemicals so that it is dirt-repellent, wrinkle-free or better colored. All of these chemical agents that are used are then also worn on the skin, because they remain in the silk and store themselves.
All of this is forbidden in the production of organic silk. The organic silk farmer gets less profit, but with a clear conscience. He'll have to make higher prices to make up for the effort, but it's worth it. Organic silk is more appealing because it is of high quality and robust.
However, many manufacturers of organic silk also ensure that it is right for their employees. They pay fair wages and promote the health of workers by not using chemicals. Every organic silk is GOTS certified. You should pay attention to this when buying.

How do you properly care for silk?

Silk is a wonderful material that feels wonderfully good on the skin. However, it also takes a lot of care, because nothing comes from anything. So that the beautiful fabric is not damaged and does not come out of the laundry broken, you have to pay attention to a few things. If you take good care of him, you can enjoy him for a long time.
If you want to make it easy for yourself, you can simply give the silk part to the dry cleaner. Then, however, it gets dry-cleaned, which does clean, but doesn't smell like anything. So if you love the smell of freshly laundered clothes or simply don't have a dry cleaner nearby, just wash your silk item at home.
However, you should take a look at the label beforehand, because not every type of silk can be washed. Dupioni silk, for example, must not come into contact with water. It dies when it only comes into contact with water, which is why dry dry cleaning is mandatory in the cleaning process.
But if you want to wash at home and your garment allows it, it is actually quite easy to wash silk. There are just a few things you need to consider.

Choosing the right detergent

If you think you can use regular laundry detergent, you are unfortunately mistaken. The detergent you have at home would gradually make your silk brittle. This is because silk is a fiber made of egg white and the normal, alkaline detergent tries to dissolve egg white.The fiber gradually becomes rough and dull until it crumbles at some point.
You should also keep your distance from wool detergent. It is also suitable for protein fibers, but has moisturizing ingredients that are supposed to make the wool soft and fluffy. This makes the silk look slightly mushy and greasy when you wash it with wool detergent. To prevent this from happening, you should use a special detergent that is specially made for silk. It also has chemical surfactants, but these are mild and neutral. Ingredients that dissolve proteins are omitted and so you can use it well for silk.
You should also not use bleach, as this will cause the color to separate from the fibers. If you don't want to spend money on special silk detergents, you can also use very mild pH-neutral shampoo. However, this must not have any perfumes, dyes or moisturizing ingredients, because otherwise this is optically reflected on the material. The same applies to fabric softener, which makes the fibers greasy.
Here is a brief summary of what detergents can and cannot do:

  • Use special silk detergents
  • If you don't have one at hand, a mild, pH-neutral shampoo is sufficient
  • No alkaline detergents
  • No wool detergent
  • No bleach
  • No moisturizing ingredients
  • No fabric softener

Gentle hand wash

To wash silk fabrics by hand, you spread the hand basin with water at about 30 degrees. Under no circumstances should it get warmer. The special silk detergent is added and gently stirred.
Then you put your silk part in it for a maximum of five minutes. You don't swirl it around like you do with other items of clothing in the hand wash, but leave it there and only move it a little now and then.
Then the lye is drained and cold water is added. The silk part is now rinsed in cold water. So that no lime builds up, which could roughen unsightly stains and fibers, you use wine vinegar. A teaspoon is added to the cold water. So your color cannot fade either and the fibers are strengthened.
Here again briefly summarized:

  • Hand wash
  • Maximum 30 degrees
  • Use silk detergent
  • Leave in the water for a maximum of 5 minutes
  • Just move a little
  • Cold water with wine vinegar to rinse out

Wash silk in the washing machine

You can read on the label whether silk is allowed in the washing machine. If it is possible, you should always (!) Put your silk item in a laundry bag so that it does not get tangled with other items of clothing or get rubbing in the washing machine drum.
The special silk detergent is used for washing at a maximum of 30 degrees. If you have a silk program on your washing machine, you should use it too. This is extremely gentle on your clothes.
Here again briefly summarized:

  • Note the label
  • Maximum 30 degrees
  • Use laundry bag
  • Use special silk detergent
  • Set the silk program

Gently dry the silk

When the fabric comes out of the hand wash or the washing machine, it is often dripping wet. The whole fabric is then carefully (!) Squeezed out and rolled up in a dry towel. Under no circumstances should you wring or roll completely, so that the material is not unnecessarily stressed.
If the silk is still wet after using the towel, do the same thing again with a second towel until the material is only damp. Then your silk part comes on a shaped hanger. You can also dry the clothes lying down. To do this, you pull them gently (!) Into shape beforehand.
Hanging up completely wet is also not an option, because then the entire item of clothing can warp and no longer look good. Under no circumstances should you let the parts dry in the sun because they can become brittle.
Here again briefly summarized:

  • Roll up in a towel to dry
  • Then hang it up on the shaped bracket
  • Or: dry flat
  • No sun
  • Don't wring it out

Iron the silk until smooth

Since silk is dried hanging or lying down, it can sometimes be quite wrinkled. She's just a diva. But it's just as easy to iron if you pay attention to a few things. With other materials, water is splashed on the fabric to iron it flat. This does not work with silk fabrics! Only spots would appear.
With a damp cloth that you put over the clothing, the whole thing works very well. Ironing is done inside out. However, it is easier to iron the silk if it is not yet 100% dry. Your iron shouldn't be too hot, so only iron on the first level. In addition, steam irons do not get along with silk, because then it becomes brittle again.
But it is easiest if you simply take the dry silk piece with you into the shower. Hanging on a hanger, it waits for your hot shower and will look smooth afterwards, as the humidity acts like an iron on it.

Again briefly summarized:

  • Don't steam iron me
  • Do not spray with water
  • Place a damp cloth over the garment
  • Iron on level 1 only
  • Place a damp cloth over the garment
  • Better: remove creases with humidity in the shower

What to do with stains

Stains on silk are mostly caused by clumsiness. Sometimes there is also perfume or deodorant behind it and there is a stain. Perfumes and deodorants are very stubborn and can hardly be removed.
Under no circumstances should you wipe the stains with water, because then the fibers will swell and the stain will settle deeper in the tissue. In addition, there are water streaks that make the whole dilemma look even worse. You should also not rub the fiber under any circumstances.
To get rid of a stain in silk, the only thing that will help is petrol or a trip to the dry cleaner. Petrol is poured onto the material and removed with a cloth. In the case of stubborn stains, it is worthwhile to go straight to the cleaning service.

Here again briefly summarized:

  • Perfume and deodorant are difficult to remove
  • Do not spray on water → this will cause additional stains
  • Use petrol
  • Put stubborn stains into the cleaner