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What is Mulberry Silk?

by 顺之 聂 02 Oct 2023

Are you interested in fashion fabrics and have you ever wondered what mulberry silk is? Natural silk is a wonderful fabric that has no analogs, its history is steeped in ancient legends, and the production process has changed little over several millennia. Mulberry silk is a fibrous substance derived from cocoons of mulberry silkworms. This material is known for its durability, softness, and noble luster. This is why mulberry silk has become one of the most popular and sought-after materials in the textile industry.

Mulberry silk is a soft fabric woven from the finest threads. Fibers are extracted from the cocoon of the caterpillar that emerges from the eggs of the mulberry silkworm. The fabric was originally made only in China, and the secret of its production was kept in the strictest secrecy. The process of making the fabric has not changed since then. It remains very complex and labor-intensive. Hence, the high price of mulberry silk.

You've probably seen silk described as "mulberry silk" and wondered what the difference is. After all, isn't silk just silk? As it turns out, when it comes to silk, there can be a lot of confusion about what types there are and what they offer. Not only is silk a very common fabric for making clothing, but it is also often used in interior design. Mulberry silk and regular silk are the two most common varieties, and understanding the difference between the two is key to making informed decisions.

Silk: Woven into History

Mulberry silk is one of the most ancient and luxurious fabrics, possessing a unique luster and delicacy. The history of its creation is closely linked to Chinese culture and science-based industry. And consider the legends about mulberry silk, which have become part of the heritage not only of the East but also of the entire world community. Only by imagining a full picture of the origin of this unique material can one more fully appreciate its beauty and value.

Rising dynasties for many centuries paid great attention to the process of manufacturing mulberry silk, this finest material, which then became considered one of the most valuable fabrics in the world. The legend of how silk was discovered is associated with Emperor Huang-Ti. He managed to grow baobab worms and produce thread from their cocoons. One day it happened that one of the threads fell on his wife Ishizi - she discovered its luster and lightness and decided to use the resulting material to create new clothes. The first velvet skirt was born. Since then, the Empress was called the "Deity of Silk". On holidays in her honor on the altars of temples laid offerings in the form of cocoons of silkworms.

In addition to being used to making clothes and jewelry, the Chinese began to use mulberry silk in industry quite quickly. In Western civilization, this happened much later, already in our days. Silk production has rapidly become one of the leading branches of the Chinese economy. Mulberry silk was used in various spheres of life in the manufacture of bowstrings, fishing lines, musical instruments, plain paper, and all kinds of securities.

It is believed that the first products made of mulberry silk had the right to be worn exclusively by nobles – the emperor and his family, as well as his highest dignitaries. It was a tradition to wear white silk inside the palace and yellow silk outside the palace. However, mulberry silk gradually became more widely used, and eventually even the most ordinary people were able to afford silk garments.

How Mulberry Silk is Produced

Do you love silk? Do you know how mulberry silk comes into being? Everyone knows that the birthplace of silk is China. And many times we have heard about silk cocoons, from which the thread for silk is extracted. But how many people have seen these cocoons with their own eyes and know the technology of silk production? Probably not!

The technology of mulberry silk production is very complicated. Moths and silkworm caterpillars are reared in special nurseries. When the caterpillar is wrapped in a cocoon, it is killed and the cocoon is softened in hot water. Then it is unwound. From one cocoon 300 to 1000 m of silk fiber is obtained. The thread is compacted by twisting 5-8 fibers at a time and rewound into spools. The spools are sorted and processed, sometimes the fibers are additionally twisted to increase density. The finished material is sent to the mill. There, the yarn is soaked in water and dyed. It is then used to make mulberry silk with different weaves. The type of weave and the density of yarns will depend on the type of silk fabric.

Use of Mulberry Silk

What can be sewn from mulberry silk? The first thing that comes to mind is women's blouses and dresses . But in fact, the scope of application of this material is much wider.

1. Making clothes.
Mulberry silk tolerates dyes well, so it can be dyed in a variety of colors without changing its basic properties. This material is soft and smooth to the touch, which makes it comfortable to wear. Silk fabrics are used to make both winter and summer clothes because mulberry silk absorbs moisture well. And because this material maintains a comfortable temperature for the body in any weather. In addition, products made of mulberry silk have an attractive appearance, absorb unpleasant odors, prevent the growth of bacteria on the skin, and do not cause allergies.

2. Medicine.
Silk has disinfectant and bactericidal properties, so it is used as a suture material in surgery (even in such delicate areas as the eye or neurosurgery). For surgical sutures, threads made from the outer or inner fiber of the cocoon – buret silk – are best suited.

3. Home textiles.
This hypoallergenic material, which does not breed bedbugs and dust mites, is perfect for making home textiles. Dense mulberry silk is used to sew drapes, roller blinds, bed linens, covers for furniture, and bedspreads.

Mulberry Silk vs. Regular Silk

You may be wondering how the mulberry silk variety differs from regular silk ("tussah", artificial silks). Let take a look at different aspects.

1. Composition.
The first essential difference between mulberry silk and ordinary silk lies in their composition. Mulberry silk is made from the long, strong fibers of Bombyx mori moth (silkworm), while regular silk can be made from a variety of insects including beetles, wasps, and moths. As a result, mulberry silk is usually stronger and more elastic than regular silk.

2. Color
Mulberry silk is always pure white, no exceptions, making it a great addition to luxurious bedding that feels pristine. It can be dyed if necessary using safe dyes.

3. Method of production.
Another difference between mulberry silk and regular silk is the method used to produce silk. To make them, Bombyx mori moth larvae are fed only mulberry leaves. This diet ensures that the resulting silk fibers are strong and uniform. In contrast, insects used to produce conventional silk usually feed on a more diverse diet, which can lead to inconsistencies in the strength and quality of the resulting silk fibers.

4. Texture
Other types of silk tend to be rougher to the touch, while mulberry silk is soft like butter.

5. Applications.
Finally, mulberry silk and conventional silk differ in their common applications. Because of its strength and durability, mulberry silk is often used in high-end garments such as wedding dresses, while regular silk is more commonly used in low-cost garments such as shirts.

Benefits of Mulberry Silk

In this era, the quality and environmental impact of our purchases has become more important than ever. Not only do people want to enjoy the products they buy, but they also want to know where they come from. Many people start thinking about the environmental impact of a product before they reach for their bank card. A prime example of this is mulberry silk, which is increasingly sought after for its aesthetic appeal and health, beauty, and environmental benefits.

Good for your skin
The smooth material that the delicate skin of the face and neck comes into contact with is not only hypoallergenic, but it is also soft and does not leave impressions. This is one of the reasons why many companies use mulberry silk for pillowcases and sleep masks.

Good for your hair
Natural silk helps hair retain moisture, and when hair retains moisture better, it is less prone to breakage. Also, when you sleep on mulberry silk, your hair has less friction compared to other materials. As a result, silk bedding leaves your hair shiny and less likely to tangle.

Good for your sleep quality
Ready for a nap? Falling asleep on mulberry silk is like nothing else: your body is wrapped in soft, silky comfort. Soft to the touch, it's incredibly comfortable. Because of its temperature-regulating properties, silk is also a great option for those who are hot at night. Whatever the weather, you are sure to get a good night's sleep. In addition, you will wake up feeling like royalty. Who says good sleep doesn't exist?
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