Types of Silk Fabric

Written by marisa swanson
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Types of Silk Fabric
Silk is a protein fibre, similar to hair or wool. This pile of silk looks like hair at first glance. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The creation of silk fabric originated in China and is well over 1,000 years old. In its history it has been used for writing material, clothing, art and home decor. Different types of silk are differentiated based on their origin and specific method of creation.

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Crepe de Chine

Crepe de Chine has a pebbly feel to it and lacks the shiny lustre of other types of silk. The reason being that fibres are twisted alternately in a clockwise and counterclockwise position. These twisted fibres are woven into plain-weave fabric. There is no "wrong" or "back" side of the fabric, as both sides look and feel identical. Crepe de Chine resists ravelling better than other types of silk, but is still somewhat delicate. If not handled gently it will tear.


Satin is a type of fabric with a high lustre on one side. Many confuse satin with silk or think of them as being the same. While silk is a fibre harvested from the cocoons of moths, satin is a type of fabric woven with silk. In today's age of technology, man-made fibres like polyester are also woven in the special satin way to create an inexpensive satin material. Purists insist that true satin can only be made from silk fibres.


Dupioni silk is shimmering and lustrous with its natural slubs appearing as texture throughout. Slubs are irregularities in the silk that appear as bumps or thicker threads. They indicate 100 per cent pure silk. Dupioni is woven from two different cocoons that have slightly tangled together. Because of this the silk seems to change colour in different lights. Dupioni also dyes easily, which is why it's often produced in bright shades. The texture is not as prominent as that of Crepe de Chine.

Silk Noil

Silk noil is created from fibres that are left over after silk has been combed and carded. It doesn't shine like other types of silk, but it has its own benefits. For example, it resists wrinkling. Although its appearance is closer to cotton than silk, it drapes better than cotton and has a softer feel on your skin. A garment from silk noil is an inspired choice for the traveller's wardrobe.

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