What makes Indian silk the best fabric?
In India, silk means Vanya. Originated from the forest.Untamed. Wild
There are different types of silk fabric in Indian subcontinent. Due to the large variety of availability of silk and its price, it makes Indian silk very popular in the International market.
Trailblazer- is what India has been. The world is just discovering the benefits of intermittent fasting and 24-hour fasting; we have had Ekadashi since time immemorial. Gluten-free ragi and vegan coconut milk have been a part of our kitchen and households from years. Similarly, the slow fashion-the whole fashion universe is now waking up to-has been an integral aspect of our lifestyle, or rather the only fashion or choice of outfit we knew. Be it cotton, jute or silk- we have epitomised the idea of living in harmony with nature, or ecosystem as one.
India is one of the largest silk producers in the world. An illustrative example of unremarkable progress in textile industry to the world while adhering to sustainable, eco-friendly practices and natural fabrics. Silk, however, hasn’t been an India-exclusive product. It has been part of the ancient culture of Japan, China, Sri Lanka and Thailand too. And there has been an incredible development in sericulture also. This is why if you are planning to use silk fabric for stitching, or design project, it is essential to know them beforehand to make an informed decision.
Scroll down to know more about types of silk fabric!
What are the Different Types of Silk Fabric in India?
Wild silk: Wild silk comes from the silkworms that live in monitored yet forest-like ecosystems. They live on trees and can feed themselves. However, Mulberry silkworms (the creators of cultivated silk) are entirely domesticated, grown on plantation and need human help to sustain and survive. Wild silk is the most natural form of silk you can find. The natural shades of wild silk -gold, beige and brown –depending on the leaves or the diet these silkworms are on. Since it is natural and is cultivated in rural areas, the rawness and natural state of silk thread is its beauty. The Wabi-Sabi of silk.
The wild silkworms are Tasar, Eri, and Muga. Since they thrive in a wild atmosphere, the silk production can’t be scaled up. Still, the annual production of tasar silk can be estimated up to 130 tonnes whereas the cultivated silk exceeds the output of 10,000 tonnes.
The thread length of wild silk is shorter than cultivated silk. While it is more durable and sturdier, the thread is rougher and hence, needs to be spun like cotton. More than 500 species of wild silkworms are known to the world.
Wild silk is difficult to dye and bleach, but their natural sheen is their USP. Muga silk or Assam silk has a rich golden colour. Indian tussar silk also has a subliminally golden colour.Since Chinese silk cultivation is a highly chemicalised process, it can be dyed easily.
Mulberry silk: One of the most expensive silk varieties out there, mulberry silk is produced by silkworms bred under captivity on a plantation. The mulberry silkworm, Bombyxmori moth, lays about 500 eggs and dies. These eggs are hatched on 65-75 degrees F, where they slowly evolve as tiny silkworms that feed on mulberry leaves. They grow up to 10,000 times of their size. This food and energy are spent on spinning cocoon. The silk breeders take every precaution to ensure that the worm doesn’t hatch into a moth, because when they do,they tend to break the cocoon and damage the thread.
Mulberry silk is more delicate, smoother and more uniform in texture because the silkworms are bred only on a certain diet of mulberry leaves and under controlled conditions. If you are tired of your skin allergies or from interrupted sleep, switch to silk sheets and clothes made of mulberry silk. It is 100 per cent hypoallergenic, odourless and forever!
Eri Silk: Cultivated from the caterpillar of Samiaricini, Eri silk is produced primarily in North East India, Orissa, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and some parts of China and Japan. Eri silkworms feed on castor leaves or errandi, and this is how the silk got its name. It has a woolly texture and a thick ‘spun’ feel to it. Unlike the continuous filament of other silk fabrics, it is a staple and denser fibre. It is heavier than other silk fabrics and blends. The thermal property of the silk is such that it is cool in summer and warm in winter.
It is the silk that is famously known as Ahimsa silk, for the silkworms do not die during the process. The pupa completes its natural metamorphosis, and the silk is harvested after it leaves the cocoon as a moth. Its original white colour also complements its non-violent origin of obtaining silk. The Ahimsa silk was invested by a firm believer of Mahatma Gandhi, KusumaRajaiah in 2000.
It is a preferred choice of Buddhist monks for its non-violent streak and among people in mountainous regions for its thermal property. Eri silk is used to make sarees, curtains, shawls, jackets, bed sheets, duvets, blankets and dresses. Lucy Tammam, the famous vegan designer, uses Eri silk for her exclusive bridal couture.
Sea silk-Silk is not derived by silkworms alone. In fact, silk produced by large seawater clams, pen shells and spiders is considered to be more valuable, more refined, and more precious. Sea silk is a massive lump of, almost a metre long quite robust yet thin fibres. These fibres, byssi or filaments are secreted by the foot gland of the Mediterraneanclams (Pinna Nobilis).
The clams use the byssi to attach to the sea bed. The fibres are treated with lemon and spun to reveal a golden colour, which is perpetual and never fades away. The filaments-turned-silk is used to make gloves, stockings, veils and train of a bridal gown, which is so delicate and elegant that it can be folded and tucked away in a half of a walnut shell. The seashell, however, is prone to pests such as clothes moth.
Spider silk- It is nothing but the spider web! Scientists are considering it for its tensile strength and toughness. However, it remains an unexplored field.
Pure silk- Original pure 100 per cent silk is treated chemically or with gum to wipe off all the sticky layers of protein before the weaving process even begins. It is an heirloom, and this is why the pure Kanjivaram silk and Banarasi silk sarees cost you a fortune.
If you want to find out if you have pure silk or not, take a few threads and burn them at the end. If the threads leave powdered ash and smell like burnt hair, it is pure silk. Fake silk doesn’t leave a residue like as ash ball and smells like burnt plastic. The best way to be always sure of the authenticity of pure silk sarees is to buy them at Bharatsthali! India’s leading online saree shop offers pure silk sarees with the certification trademark of Silk Mark India bearing its purity and originality.
Raw silk- Raw silk or resham, it is popularly known, is one of the most delicate natural fabrics. India happens to be the second-largest manufacture of raw silk fabric. The material has an iridescent sheen that comes from its minutiae triangular-shaped weave doubling up like a prism and reflecting light from different angles. And this sheen remains forever. Muga raw silk’s golden shine or the white colour of raw Ahimsa silk never fades away.
The raw silk fibreis pure silk fabric minus the degumming process. It is made from the cocoons’ protective layer called sericin or silk gum.
Matka silk-Matka silk is produced from the leftover mulberry silk without the degumming process. It has a rough texture and dull shine to it. Unlike pure silk, it has a more unevensurface, is lesser lucid and hence, easier to drape and stitch. Matka silk sarees are famous in the world for their thick yarn, durability and ease of usage. It is used extensively in home furnishing and textile industry.
Crepe Satin / Silk Satin / Silk Charmeuse- A favourite choice of bridal dressmakers, interior decorators, tailors, and interior decorators, crepe satin feels rich and luxurious. Satin has a natural shine, owing to its weaving process of warp threads. The silk satin is exceptionally delicate and needs an expert sewist as constant puckering of yarn can make stitching a challenging task.
What are the variety of silk fabric to make lingerie, shirts and bridal corset?
A variety of stretch silk sating with five per cent spandex is a preferred choice of making lingerie, shirts and bridal corset.
Crepe chiffon/ chiffon silk- Crepe chiffonis aplain-woven high-twist yarn that makes for beautiful drape and softer texture. It is a sheer fabric and light-weight silk. It can be challenging to sew. It is perfect as sarees, bridesmaids’ dresses, evening gowns and shirts. It needs to be stitched with linen for summer dresses and shirts.
Dupion silk- This silk is a plain-weave fabric produced with warp and weft of fine and uneven thread. It leaves the fabric tightly woven and with crisp as well as the lustrous surface. Often it is confused with shantung silk, but it is a bit heavier and thicker. It is usually woven with a different colour of thread to impart its signature sheen- lending it a striking resemblance with silk taffeta but not it. The warp and weft with two different threads, let the weavers be creative with the fabric. Dupioni can be weaved into floral patterns, striped or plaid pattern. Apart from Banarasi silk, Varanasi is famous for its range of dupion silk. The fabric is a popular choice for formal and bridal wear. It needs lining to be turned into upholstery, a curtain or drape.
Silk gauze: Silk gauze is a lighter and even sheerer fabric than chiffon. It is lustrous and almost slips away upon touching. It is a preferred choice of needlework enthusiasts and miniaturists who are fond of detailed embroidery. It is woven in leno structure and is used for lining.
Fuji silk: Light-weight silk used for lining.
Dharmavaram silk: Made of zari, raw silk or mulberry silk, Dharmavaram silk is produced with warp and weft method. It is used to make heirloom Dharmavaram silk sarees that have motifs of Lepakshi and Lata Mandalam temples.
Uppada silk: It is used to make extraordinarily delicate and finest Uppada silk sarees of cotton body and silk pallu. The signature characteristic of the saree is the handwoven golden zari border that has geometric pattern carved on it. It is so light-weight and delicate that it can fit into a matchbox.
Silk noil: Commonly mistaken as raw silk, silk noil is a Chinese fabric used as a lining and in home furnishing. It is made from the leftover fibres after carding and combing. Sometimes, you could see some remnants of cocoon surface too that gives it matte texture. It is quite cheap and now has several cheaper yet better alternatives available in the market. It doesn’t require much care but isn’t durable either.
Shantung or tussar silk: This slubby-textured silk is known as tussar silk. It is a variant of wild silk and is produced from silkworms on a diet of oak leaves. It is a durable fabric and has a natural golden colour. While it isn’t refined as mulberry silk, its rawness of the texture and dull sheen makes it a perfect candidate for bridal couture in day weddings. Indian tussar sarees are famous all over the world. India is the second-largest manufacturer of tussar silk. It is produced in Jharkhand, Bhagalpur (also known as Bhagalpur silk owing to its origin), Malda (West Bengal) and Bihar.
Its durability and availability in different colours make it a preferred choice of interior designers for upholstery and furnishing. It is also used as a canvas for handicraft products. It is also used to make luxurious high-end soaps.
Watered silk or Moire- Moire is produced from silk and has a wavy finish to it. Hence, the name watered silk. This ‘wavy’ effect is created with warp and weft weaving and a finishing technique known as calendaring. In Europe, it was the sign of high esteem and used to design women’s dresses hailing from the royal family. It is crafted out of silk taffeta but alternatively polyester or rayon is also being used to cut the costs. Nowadays, it is used to make capes, trimmings, wedding gowns and the train of a bridal gown.
Silk taffeta- It is the favourite fabric of eminent designers like Christian Dior and Coco Chanel for its sheer versatility and capability to create enviable silhouettes for the high fashion world. The fabric is woven using a single thread pattern in warp and weft and has a checkerboard pattern. It has a stiff yet shimmery surface that lends structure to an outfit. It doesn’t pill but snags easily. Besides, it isn’t stretchable and can’t be used to make outfits where flexibility is required.
Silk brocade- Silk brocade is a silk blend with a satin base. It has a jacquard pattern in zari. It is used to make festive wear, wedding gowns, or to adorn a saree blouse or an Anarkali suit.
Habotai silk- It is one of the widely-used Chinese silk fabrics. It was originated in Japan, but China had sabotaged and scaled up the production of this two-layered light-weight plain weave silk. This all-natural yet cheaper silk fabric is used for lining and due to its sheer nature in creating summer blouses, scarves, t-shirts, lampshades and lingerie.
Silk organza- It is a preferred choice of many designers and fashion houses to make bridal gowns, wedding sarees, evening wear and designer home furnishing products such as curtains. It is a sheer fabric that originated in China but now manufactured all over the world. It is also used as a base to create jacquard and applique patterns.
Silk georgette-Named after the renowned French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante, silk georgette is a semi-transparent and thin fabric. It is light-weight fabric and has a soft bounce in the fabric due to its warp and weft weave. It is perfect choice of outfit for people who want to look petite than they are. It is a preferred choice for making evening gowns, bridal wear sarees and furnishing.
Banarasi silk- World-famous for its delicate and detailed Mogul embroidery, gold zari work and bright colour, Banarasi silk is pure silk that uses natural dyes and solvent. Banaras has more than 1.2 million people or bunkars weaving this incredible marvel for your wardrobe and home.
Pochampally silk-Pochampalli silk is famous for its ikat tie-dyeing and weaving. It is either made of mulberry silk or silk-cotton blend.
Mysore silk- Mysore silk or Karnataka silk was considered to be the fabric of the royalty of Mysore Kingdom. Made of mulberry silk, it is luxurious and soft. The vibrant colour palette makes Mysore silk sarees a number one choice of brides. Designers and interior decorators have also taken a liking to its rich detailing, handwork embroidery and bright colours.
Bangalore silk- Inspired by the sericulture in Japan, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata started India’s very own systematic silk farm in Bangalore. It was set up by Japanese professionals, who also gave training to local people for mulberry plantation, cocoon seeds and procurement of silk thread. This farm created employment opportunities and revolutionised the textile industry as well. Bangalore silk is a popular choice of commoners and designers alike for its variety of colours, patterns and prints.
Thai silk- It is a light to medium-weight silk variety from Thailand. It is often mistaken for its Chinese counterpart, Shantung but unequivocally better.
Kosa silk:Kosa silk is another dull golden-brown variant of tussar silk. The kosa silk produced in ‘Champa’ of Chhatisgarh, India is considered to be the finest in the world and mainly exported before it hits the domestic market.
Narayanpet silk-Naryanpet silk flourished during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj. It is made of pure silk after degumming. The weavers use vegetable dyes and take around five days to complete a saree. Despite that,it is quite affordable.
Kanjivaram silk-It is pure silk adorned woven with pure silk and gold threads. It is believed to be the silk of Gods, a favourite fabric of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
Cashmere silk- Cashmere silk is made of cashmere wool and pure silk. It is cheaper than pure cashmere.
Apart from different types of silk fabrics, silk blends are also in vogue for their affordability and all-season wearability. Some much-liked silk blends are art silk, silk-cotton, silk-linen, jute-silk and silk-wool.
Why should you buy wholesale Indian silk online?
Except for Ahimsa silk, silkworms are killed during the procedure of silk extraction*. In China, the silk-making process is highly automated and chemical-intensive, making the removal of silk a cruel and violent process. However, in India and other countries, silk production involves manual labour and is done entirely by hand. Usually, silk production in India takes place in rural areas and villages where it is still a mean of livelihood and not something to be messed about or go on about. India’s silk speaks about the honesty of lissome fingers, manual efforts and perseverance.
*Any production of fibre involves ecological damage and cruelty to some extent even if we are talking about cotton or linen. While polyester or nylon have a visibly distressing impact on the whole ecosystem, the natural fibres are the most-friendly and eco-friendlier alternative. In silk-making, only silkworms suffer through the process. In contrast, the harvest of cotton or linen is damaging to the soil, water and surrounding plantation, which is now effectively reduced as well.
Why choose Indian silk fabrics at Bharatsthali?
Bharatsthali is a fair-trade direct manufacturer. We enable our weavers with technology to showcase their products and thus, to let them explore real trade possibilities and generate more avenues for sales. Since we are a direct manufacturer, our wholesale silk fabric online is sold by the yard and at reasonable prices. Be it silk sarees online India or wholesale Indian silk fabric, Bharatsthali is the guarantee of 100 per cent authentic silk.
If you want to know more or have any query before placing the order, you can reach us out here.