Satin fabric

Satin is more than just a soft, shiny fabric often used for fancy dresses.  Satin refers to the weave, not the textile, and most fabric characterized as satin has a soft, shiny finish that can be seen anywhere from evening bags to upholstery. Since satin uses long filament fibers which are woven in a very taut fashion, the resulting material is stronger than many plain weave fabrics. Satin doesn’t wrinkle as easily as other fabrics.

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What Is Satin?

Satin is one of the three major textile weaves, along plain weave and twill. The satin weave creates a fabric that is shiny, soft, and elastic with a beautiful drape. Satin fabric is characterized by a soft, lustrous surface on one side, with a duller surface on the other side. This is a result of the satin weaving technique, and there are many variations on what defines a satin weave.

What Are the Origins of Satin?

Satin dates back to medieval China, where it was made exclusively with silk. The weave originated in the Chinese port city of Quanzhou, which was called Zaitun in medieval Arabic, hence the name satin today. The fabric and weaving techniques were both passed along the Silk Road and came to be widely produced across the Middle East. Italy was the first Western country to produce satin in the twelfth century, and it became popular across Europe in the fourteenth century. In fact, much of the furniture in the Palace of Versaille is satin upholstery.

What Are the Different Satin Weaves?

Satin is woven from long, continuous fibers, and satin is defined by the length of the filament, not the fiber used. Originally, satin was made using silk, which is a long, continuous thread pulled from a silkworm's cocoon. Modern satin can also be made from polyester and rayon, both of which can be manufactured to form long filaments.

There are several different kinds of satin weaves:

  • 4 harness satin weave. In the 4/1 satin weave, the weft thread goes over three warp threads and then under one. This is more elastic and has more stretch than a plain weave, in which the warp and weft threads cross over at a 1/1 ratio.
  • 5 harness satin weave. This is nearly the same as the 4 harness variety, except the weft thread goes over four warp threads and then under one.
  • 8 harness satin weave. This is the most flexible form of satin, and to achieve this weave, the weft thread goes over seven warp threads and then under one.

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