Wedding gowns come in many different fabrics but what exactly is a brocade and how is velvet made? Does silk really come from a worm?
Silk is made from the threads spun by silk caterpillars (not worms) as they pupate. The pupate is made from one long thread extruded by the glands of the caterpillar, and wrapped around and around to form the pod. When the caterpillar is finished spinning, their job is done. The pods are dipped in hot water to loosen the thread and kill the caterpillar. The threads are unwound from the pod and rewound on wheels.
The silk strands are wound differently to make different fabrics. For example crepe is produced by multiple strands of silk twisted together in different directions. Orangzine is made by twisting multiple strands of silk together then changing the direction and repeating.
Silk is prized for its suppleness, softness and strength and is the basis for a number of other fabrics.
Satin can be made from silk or rayon. The two sides of the cloth vary dramatically, one side is glossy and smooth and the other flat and dull.
Rayon is a man made fabric produced from natural cellulouse which comes from wood pulp, or other plant matter. It was originally marketed as artificial silk. It has similar draping qualities and is used as an inexpensive substitute for silk.
Velvet has been around for 4000 years. It can be made with silk, cotton or synthetic threads. Two pieces of fabric are placed on a special loom and the threads woven between them piercing both fabrics and looping back and forth. The threads are then cut apart resulting in a napped surface on each of the original fabric pieces. Velvet can be crushed, cut, or designs burned in the fabrics to product patterns.
Brocade is a fabric usually woven from silk that incorporates a design that is raised on some parts of the fabric. Gold and silver threads can be woven into the design as well.
Taffeta fabric's unique characteristic is that it changes color when viewed from different directions. It can be woven from silk or synthetics.
Chiffon is the French word for rag. It can be woven from silk or synthetic materials. The material is transparent and has a floating characteristic. On close examination one can see the threads in the weave as a mesh pattern.
Lace isn't really a type of fabric such as brocade or satin, but a method of weaving designs using thread. The threads can be silk, cotton or synthetic. The designs can be intricate or simple. The lace is woven in an open work pattern. The holes in the open work can be the result of threads removed or can be woven into the design by twisting, braiding or looping other threads in the design.