The matt silk that is such a great fabric for womenswear
At Patra, we pride ourselves on our silk knowledge. We select the purest, softest types of silk and thoroughly research the manufacturing process to ensure Patra clothes are made from the highest quality fabrics. We stock items in Habotai, Noil, Silk Satin, Silk Chiffon to name but a few and many of our customers often ask us what the difference is between all these types of silks. Today, we’re sharing our knowledge of one of our favourites – Noil silk – to give you an insight into this silk and explain why we think it is so special.
What is silk and where does it come from?
Silk is such a multi-faceted fabric. From antiquity until now, the silk trade was the most important economic link between East Asia and the industrialised West. Silk fabric is created by silkworm moths, called Bombyx Mori, and the practice of rearing silk worms is known as sericulture and has been practised in China for thousands of years. Sericulture has a long tradition, handed down from generation to generation. Initially it only involved small sericultural farmers but over the centuries the farms expanded and today it is now a multi-million-pound industry.
What is Noil Silk and what are its properties?
Noil silk is the fabric made using the shorter fibres that are leftover from the manufacture of other silk fabrics. Rather than a continuous length of silk, these short fibres are used for noil silk, which has a slightly rough texture. Generally, it lacks the sheen of other silk fabrics, however it is stronger and has a better handle than cotton. It tends to have better texture and depth than cotton – and gives a nice fall and drape.
Noil silk is surprisingly soft for a fabric that still has bits of cocoon woven into it, and it works well for tailored blouses as it can be gathered or pleated at will. Being relatively thicker than other silks though, too much gathering will add bulk. This silk is easy to manipulate when cutting and sewing and accepts pins with no issue, unlike other types of silk, which can be extremely difficult to sew.
Since noil silk is made from the shorter fibres, the cost reflects this. It is much more affordable than traditional silk fabrics, while preserving many of the qualities that silk has. Although it does have the thicker feel of a cotton fabric, it definitely retains some of the wonderful drape that silk is known for. It is also one of the more easily dyed natural fibres, so it comes in a huge array of deep and rich colours.
How should I care for Noil Silk?
One of the huge advantages of Noil silk, compared to other types of silk, is its easy care instructions. You can easily wash it (albeit on a delicate cycle at 30°C), but never use optical whiteners, bleaching agents or cleaners that contain enzymes, as these will target sericin (the protein silk fabric is made of) as well. Being more durable than other types of silk, with proper care, this silk will last you a long time and keep its shape for longer. Even at the fraction of the cost of other silk fabrics, it is always better to invest in timeless pieces, instead of buying and re-buying new.
This silk can absorb moisture well and provides warmth when needed. You can wear it comfortably during winter and summer, because of its structure; the amino acids and tiny voids in the fabric absorb and let out moisture, and so it will be cool during summer and warm in winter. Take care though; perspiration, deodorants and hair sprays may damage noil silk, as they are acidic.
Ways to wear Noil Silk
While not as lustrous as other types of silk, noil silk is an excellent fabric to wear; it is a strong, dependable fabric that is easy to care for and maintain. Noil silk retains all the good qualities of silk at a cheaper price, which makes it a more affordable option. Patra’s Noil silk range includes trousers and shirts for winter, along with our newest tapered trousers. Elegant-looking and with extra softness, our noil silk range will be a comfortable, but also luxurious addition to your wardrobe. For next season we will be expanding our range with a new noil silk shirt and jacket, so keep your eyes peeled!