Our wonderful silks supplier James Hare recently sent a lovely email all about how their silks are made. The production process is so fascinating we wanted to share it with you.
Silks come in a wide variety of weights, colours and finishes and are perfect for special occasion-wear. In store at Fabric Focus we have lots of sample books to feast your eyes on. We’re sure you’ll fall in love with one ( or all) of the silks available. Order fabric from James Hare and your beautiful silk will be with you in a flash.
The Production of Silk
|How our wonderful Silks are made….
Silk farming – or sericulture, as it is known, has a long and magical history. It was discovered by the Chinese 5,000 years ago. According to legend, the princess Xi Lingshi discovered that a cocoon could be unravelled to produce a thread when one dropped into her tea while sat under a mulberry tree. The Chinese held onto their monopoly for nearly 2,000 years – in fact they jealously guarded the secret under the threat of death.
|The secret of silk production is the tiny creature known as the silk worm, the most common is the Bombyx Mori. A flightless, domesticated moth, it lays 500 eggs in 5 days and then dies.|
|The eggs must be kept at a temperature of 18°C, increasing to 25°C. The resulting silkworms are fed on Mulberry leaves and during their short lives of a single month, increase in size 10,000 times. Once they have enough energy, they spend 3-4 days spinning a cocoon around themselves.|
|After a further 9 days the cocoons are ready. First, they are dipped in hot water to loosen the filaments and then unwound. Each cocoon amazingly produces around 900 metres of a single thread, of which 5-8 are spun together to produce a single silk yarn.|
Silk takes dye like no other fabric because in cross section the thread is more triangular than round and this intensifies the effect of any colour. Silk appears to be almost alive because no single fibre is uniform, this provides the designer with a huge variety of options as it can be gossamer thin or a thick upholstery weight.
|The farming and weaving of silk is a lengthy and laborious process. In fact, the total number of people directly dependant on sericulture is 34 million worldwide. It provides a buffer against poverty in rural communities. The main silk producing countries are China and India, however it is also important in Brazil, North Korea, Thailand and Vietnam amongst others.|
|The skills of the weavers have been developed over generations. The working conditions are clean and fair. All our fabrics are individually inspected before despatch to ensure that we provide you with the high quality you expect from us.|
|Today, James Hare is one of the worlds leaders in silk and we are very proud to be a specialist in ‘The Queen of Fabrics’.|
Did you know..?
That a silk rope is stronger than an equally thick metal wire
|It takes around 30,000 silkworms to produce 12 pounds of raw silk.|
|Silk is inherently fire retardant so if burnt it will curl away from the flame and extinguish itself.|
|A single silkworm can produce up to 15 metres of filament in a minute.|
|A silk dress requires almost 70 kg of mulberry leaves.
With thanks to James Hare for their generosity and fabulous information!
The Team at FF x
Lacking confidence? Sewing classes at Fabric Focus are perfect to gain experience with silks and all sorts of fabrics!