Silk is the most luxurious of the wedding gown fabrics. It is softly lustrous, smooth, resilient, absorbent, elastic and tough. These properties have been duplicated individually in other fibers, but never in this combination as in silk.
Silk became famous in France, however it originated in China. A Chinese Empress in 2640 B.C. learned how to rear silk worms. She learned how to unwind the filament that formed their cocoon. One cocoon will yield 1300 to 2000 feet of fiber. Raw silk must be treated with a process called degumming. Degumming removes the sticky substance that holds the cocoon together and leaves the fabric soft and glossy. China is the largest manufacture of silk today.
Pure silk is imperfect. Because silk is a natural fiber, gowns made of 100% pure silk may have imperfections. Even the most expensive silk wedding gowns may be slightly different from each other because of this. This is part of what makes them unique.
The ancient Egyptians first used this fabric for clothing. Linen is made from flax fibers. Russia, Europe, and the United Kingdom are the primary producers of flax.
Linen is usually combined with other fabrics such as cotton because by itself it wrinkles badly. Because of this property, when used as a bridal fabric, linen is generally used for informal bridal gowns.
Rayon became popular for use in wedding gowns during World War II when silk was rationed for use in parachutes. Rayon is a hybrid fabric because it is manufactured from regenerated cellulose. Rayon's high luster quality is what makes it attractive for use in bridal fabrics.
A patent was awarded in 1895 for producing rayon; however rayon was not produced in the United States until 1910. The United States is the largest producer of rayon.
Polyester, acetate, and nylon were wildly popular in the 1970's and are still commonly used today. They are man-made fibers that can be weaved into shiny or glossy finishes. Most of the wedding gowns sold today are made of man-made fabrics because they are less expensive than natural fibers and can be weaved into a multitude of desireable finishes (such as satin and taffeta).
Wedding gowns made of synthetic fabrics have some advantages over silk gowns. Stains and spills sit on top of polyester whereas they soak into silk. Because of this synthetic fabrics are easier and less expensive to care for. Also, manufactured fabrics can be made exactly the same and are free from imperfections (if you will remember, this is not the case for silk).
Remember that while your wedding gown is one of few tangible items you'll keep after your wedding day, all of the attention and focus will be on you and the start of your new life together.
Janet Davis Cleaners is a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists and clean, press, or preserve all types of wedding gowns. See our website for more information on our wedding gown services in Metro-Detroit.
photo credit: boxofjack