What is Silk?

Did you know? |¬†the¬†oldest surviving piece of woven silk fabric still in existence is estimated to be from 3630 BCE ūü§Į

The earliest evidence of silk dates back to more than 8,500 years ago & was found in China, where silkworms were cultivated by women. While the wearing of silk was restricted to the emperor & his highest dignitaries, silk was also used to make paper from the 2nd century BCE.

As China introduced the world to silk, the cultivation of silkworms spread to Japan, India, Eastern & finally Western Europe.

But how does our little moth buddy - Bombyx mori - make silk?

(Yes, that's really a silk moth; and yes, he's really holding a flower!)

 

As mentioned earlier, it's the silkworms¬†ūüźõ that are cultivated.¬†Once the larvae have matured, they each weave a cocoon of raw silk from a single thread that can range from 300 to 900 metres in length. This thread is so fine and light that it takes between 500¬†& 750 cocoons to make¬†100g of silk.

The cocoons are then boiled or steamed to soften the fibres, which are carefully unwound from each cocoon¬†& onto a reel. The silkworms are often then eaten¬†& are in fact a common food item throughout much of Asia ūü•Ę

The silk threads are washed, bleached and dried, before being spun & woven into fabric!

 

 

Silk is incredibly breathable & lightweight, but it's also a very delicate fabric that requires specialist cleaning, drying, & overall care - so it's not commonly used in uniform garments. These days, you're more likely to find polycotton fabrics finished with silk protein, a chemical treatment derived from the silkworm cocoons that adds softness to the fabric, providing a "silk like" feel.


Check out our range of Gloweave shirts with silk protein finishes, or the stunning Anna in the Spring limited edition skirt, which has a beautiful pink silk waistband ūüėć

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