Egyptian cotton and silk are words synonymous with soft, expensive fabric. Understanding the differences and similarities between Egyptian cotton and silk, and how to care for the fibre, will help a consumer pick the right fabric for the intended use. Egyptian cotton is most often found in bed linen and towels, but is also woven into shirting and fine dress fabric. Silk is most often used in garment fabric but is also used to produce high-end bed linens, draperies and upholstery.
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Properties of Egyptian Cotton
The highest quality Egyptian cotton has a long fibre and produces a luxuriant fabric found in expensive bed linen. Egyptian cotton fabric will not pill, is cool to the touch and will stay cool in warm temperatures yet be warm in cool temperatures. This cotton is highly durable and accepts dye well. It produces little lint and has a high-absorbency rate -- qualities that produce exceptional towels.
Egyptian Cotton Fabric Specifics
High-quality cotton washes well, and often feels softer after repeated washing. It releases dirt and oils easily and can accept mild chemical stain removers. It can be machine washed, even at high temperatures, and machine dried. Shrinkage occurs on the first washing only. Fabric of cotton and man-made fibres blended together may resist wrinkles and be shrink-resistant, but the absorption quality of cotton decreases with the amount of man-made fibres present.
Properties of Silk
Silk is a naturally produced fibre of exceptionally long length that is one of the strongest naturally-occurring substances. Silk fabric does not pill, resists tears and rips, is highly resistant to abrasion and can be found woven into fabric from sheer blouse or scarf fabric to heavy upholstery material. It is the most hypoallergenic of all natural fibres and absorbs moisture well. It stays cool to the touch in warm temperatures and retains warmth in cool temperatures.
Silk Fabric Specifics
Silk should be cleaned without detergents or chemicals. It dries quickly and can withstand hot ironing temperatures. Silk is susceptible to sun-fading, and if used in drapery applications requires specific linings. Cool-water hand washing of garment silk is usually acceptable; it should not shrink. Although silk absorbs dye well to produce vibrant colours it may release dye on washing, and it is not considered colour-fast. Knitted silk, or silk jersey, retains some elasticity and will reshape after washing.
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