Silk is one of the oldest and most natural fibres used by man. It has been in use for literally thousands of years and is loved the world over for its luxurious feel and its delicacy. The material is made from the fine threads found in the cocoon of the silkworm, and these are usually bred in captivity and harvested for the best result. When a moth emerges from its cocoon, it will rip the cocoon open, tearing the fine threads that make it up in the process. This makes it harder to produce a fine silk, so farmers will usually dip the cocoons in hot water to kill the larvae and keep the cocoon intact. This may seem a little unsavoury to some of you, but this is, nevertheless, how the best silk is made.
Silk has a long history of being a luxurious fibre, used by royalty and the wealthy throughout time. Archaeologists have found fragments of the material on mummy’s from ancient Egyptian tombs, and the Chinese have been using this fabric since the beginning of their recorded history as well. Myth has it that a Chinese princess was out in the courtyard one day, drinking green tea, when a cocoon landed in her cup. When she took it out, she found that the cocoon was made up of hundreds of fine threads, and instructed her seamstress to create a piece of clothing out of it. As it turns out, silk is a wonderful material to use for clothing, as it has a natural ability to keep the wearer cool when it’s hot and warm during the cold. It’s these same insulating properties that kept the larvae safe in their cocoons as they were developing during the winter.
Clothing isn’t the only use for silk, of course. Silk curtains are considered to be one of the finest types of curtains you can use. The appearance of a good silk curtain can turn a fairly ordinary room into one that feels luxurious and romantic. The curtains will shine and shimmer in the changing light of the day. They are light weight, so they will not take away from the decor of your room, and the look of a quality silk curtain will change as the sun moves through the sky. One problem people find with silk is that it is extremely delicate by nature, so it takes a little bit more care than a normal cotton curtain would. Silk will quite easily fade, and even rot, if it is exposed to too much sunlight, so it is important that you have a second layer between your silk curtain and the window. Some people like to use shutters or blinds to alleviate this problem, but if you would prefer a simpler, less expensive solution, you could simply hang a sheer curtain behind the silk one. This gives the added benefit of depth to your window. Having your silk curtains tied back and exposing a sheer or lace curtain underneath can be a great look in your bedroom.
There are three main grades of silk, each one a little bit more expensive than the last. The first is the low grade silk, which is usually made from cocoons that have been damaged in some way, causing the threads to be shorter than usual. This grade of silk will not have the luxurious texture of a higher quality silk, it actually looks and feels more like cotton. The next step up from that is wild silk. This style is of a higher quality, but tends to come out a grey color, rather than the rich luxurious pearly whites that people love. For this reason, many manufacturers will treat wild silk with chemicals that dye the fabric to make it look more like the real thing. The best is the high grade mulberry silk. It is easily identified by its softness and elegance, and is the most expensive of the three. Some people who really want the look of silk curtains but cannot afford the price, will settle for something that is manufactured to look like silk, but ius in fact synthetic. Faux silk curtains will not live up to the real thing though, and you will ultimately end up being disappointed with your choice.
You will find a large variety of curtain styles that you can choose from in this fabric. Taffeta and plaid are very popular, as are beaded and embroidered. The most popular style of them all, however, is Dupioni silk curtains, which are created by weaving two different colors of silk together. The way the light plays off this type of curtain is just amazing, and can make any room come alive.