Satin is a glossy, smooth-surfaced fabric that is usually made with silk or rayon fibres. Its luxurious qualities make satin a popular type of fabric for bridal wear and formal gowns. However, these same qualities limit the fabric's versatility and can make satin difficult to sew, among other disadvantages.
Satin has a shiny, lustrous surface that gives it a luxurious and expensive look. The appearance of satin is a big advantage when making dresses and gowns for special occasions. On the other hand, the appearance limits satin mostly to formal wear.
Satin is smooth and silky to the touch. This makes satin a good fabric choice for garments and items that will be close to the skin, like underwear, pyjamas and bedding.
Satin is a lightweight fabric with a fine weave which makes it drape very nicely. This is an advantage when you want to make a loosefitting garment with soft, flowing lines. These qualities, however, also limit the versatility of the fabric. Satin is not appropriate, for example, for making tailored, fitted or highly detailed garments.
The slippery nature of satin means you need to take extra precaution when laying out patterns and cutting the fabric. This may mean laying the fabric out on a sheet or tissue paper and using only very sharp scissors or a rotary cutter. These extra steps mean working with satin may take more time and care than other types of fabrics.
Because satin is a slippery fabric it is relatively difficult to sew. You must take extra care feeding the fabric under the needle of your sewing machine to ensure the hem or seam remains straight. Because satin has a fine weave, any unpicked stitches resulting from having to correct mistakes will show on the fabric.
Satin fabric that is made from 100 per cent silk must only be hand-washed or dry-cleaned. Caring for items made from silk satin fabric is therefore more labour-intensive than caring for machine-washable fabrics.
The special weave that produces satin's lustrous surface gives the fabric a tendency to water-spot. If you don't take special care when ironing satin you can damage it--you must remember to use a dry iron and press cloth.