The Humble Caftan

8th Century Caftan

So here is a garment that is as old as time.  With origins going back to Mesopotmia, this simple garment constructed entirely of squares was originally cotton.  When silk found it’s way to the middle east,  it quickly became a favorite textile for the Caftan.  So how did this humble, ancient garment, survive from antiquity to present?  By being eminently practical. Originally, the Caftan was the outermost garment worn by men throughout the middle east; however, in Morocco it is traditionally a woman’s garment, and even today enjoys a special place in couture of Morocco.  While worn throughout North Africa and

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Mongolian Clothing

Mognolian Clothing

In joining the SCA, the boyfriend and I were trying to determine persona.  This is a fairly common ritual for those who think they may be around for the long haul, and most people have a general idea of where they want to go with their character creation.  Vikings are common, as are 14th and 15 century knights, Elizabethan nobles, even Ottoman and Arabian persona are fairly well represented.  Less represented, at least in the West Kingdom, are Mongolians.  And the boyfriend, wanting to not follow the crowd, decided he wanted to be Mongolian.  And the more I learned about

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Silk in Warfare

The Great Kahn used Silk in Warfare

One of the many myths I am consistently confronted with is that silk is fragile and requires special care.  Part of the history of silk is the history of mankind…which means its a blood soaked history of brutal warfare.  Not just because the Chinese Emperors made the smuggling of silk worms and mulberry trees a crime punishable by death.  But literal warfare.  The Romans were first introduced to silk through warfare when they saw the silk banners of the Parthians in 53 BC.  And to this day, silk painting is a beautiful art form, with silk being a wonderful medium

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My other Love

My Other Love

So, if you open your mind beyond Facebooklandia, it turns out you really can learn something new every day.  While I have been All Things Silk for about two years now, my other love is Raqs Sharqi.  And since I like to blend my passions to cut down on confusion, I thought I’d see when silk first hit Egypt. Now, there are references to it in travel literature, that dancers wore Silks, mostly plain woven, but with accent pieces of satin or crepe (Fraser, 197…a most excellent read).  So definitely by the 19th century, silk was in Egypt.  But silk was

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Doupioni–friend or foe?

Doupioni

Doupioni.  Dupioni, Douppioni, Douppione, Doppione.  All the variations of spelling mean the same thing–Double.  Doupioni Silk threads are spun from silk cocoons that were spun too close together.  This filament is usually from cultivated silk due to overcrowding.  In the wild, silk worms have lots of room to spread out, so double cocoons rarely happen.  When the filaments are un-spun from the cocoons, there are thicker slubs where the cocoons crossed over.  That’s the technical portion of the filaments.  On to the technical portion of the fabric. The slubs are structurally weaker than the other silk filaments.  For this reason,

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Crepe de Chine

crepe de chine

We already discussed Crepe, but how is Crepe de Chine difference from Crepe?  Obviously there is a difference, words matter, and they each carry a unique name.  Surprisingly, Julie Parker was not as helpful as usual, listing the major difference between the two as Crepe de Chine is French for Crepe from China.  But good old Fairchild was supremely helpful (p. 157): “A fine, lightweight, plain weave silk fabric woven with a silk warp and a crepe-twist silk filling alternating 2s-2z…more ends than picks per inch.” Translation:  There are more warp threads, which hold the tension on the loom, than there

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Joseph Marie Jacquard

Joseph Marie Jacquard

Ah the Internet.  What’s not to love about all the world’s knowledge being readily available at your fingertips?  And all this availability started just 200 years ago, with the silk weavers in Lyons.  Don’t believe me?  Allow me to elaborate. Joseph Marie Jacquard was born on July 7, 1752 in Lyon, France.  Jacquard’s mother died when he was 10 and his father died just 10 years later, leaving Jacquard with property, a house, vineyard, looms and workshops. While his work history is largely unknown, Jacquard, having decided that weaving was not for him, was trained as a book binder and

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Patterning

Patterning...The Tome

The easy part of pattern making is knowing that I can’t draw a straight line.  Seriously.  Even with a ruler, my lines tend to veer off page.  Which means patterning for me is finding a good program that won’t break the bank.  Not actually as easy as one might think.  There are A LOT of good programs out there.  All offer excellent packages, with excellent options.  Most are over $1,000.  Which breaks the bank for me. Burda University did offer an excellent class on pattern drafting using Adobe Illustrator.  Which was my introduction to Adobe Illustrator.  And it’s a lesson

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China Silk

Processing China Silk, painted on silk

Ahhh China Silk.  How it all began.  5500 years ago, the secrets of silk were discovered in China and once the cocoon unraveled, China began weaving it.  The result was the original, plain weave, one over one under, China Silk.  Soft and lightweight, easy to work with, pleats like a dream, with a fine hand, this alluringly flowing fabric is usually found in 5mm to 10mm, but can be woven in any weight. The ever fabulous Fairchild (p. 119) provides the following definitions for China Silk: 1. A plain weave, lustrous, lightweight, very soft silk fabric produced in China and Japan

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Batiste de Soie

Going alphabetically, batiste de soie is the way to start with silk weaves.  The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles lists Batiste de Soie as “a sheer silk fabric, plain or figured, resembling silk mull (p. 48).” Batiste is itself a weaving technique, named after the 13th century linen weaver Jean Baptiste.  Batiste pulls directly from his name, with this particular fabric translating as “batiste of silk.”  Batiste was originally a very fine, diaphanous fabric, most commonly these days woven in cotton or poly/cotton blends. But it can be found in silk!  In All About Silk, author Julie Parker says “it

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