What Is Silk Used For? (12 Uses of Silk Today)

One of the best fabrics in the world comes from some of the smallest creatures known to man. They are also some of the hardest working insects you can find. Not only is that a surprise to some people so are the many applications silk has when turned into a fiber or fabric.

What is silk used for? Besides clothing, silk has been and is used for tablecloths, pillowcases, bedding, wall hangings, table runners, and even comforters. It is also used in surgical sutures, parachutes, upholstery, bike tires as well as bridal and formal attire.

To learn more about what silk is used for, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can employ your silk fabrics in the best way possible. Just don’t shy away at the expense

What was Silk Used for?


Ever since this material was discovered, it has been used for a variety of applications. The legend goes that 5000 years ago the Chinese Lady Hsi Ling Shih was drinking her tea under a tree when a mulberry silkworm cocoon fell into her cup. he marveled at the way the cocoon unraveled and from that moment on the silk industry was born.

Of course, we are skipping quite a few details including the fact that Lady Hsi Ling Shih may have been a mythical figure in Chinese history. But the origins do not matter as soon, silk became something that elevated China from just another country to holding something wonderful.

One important job silk was employed to do was be a surface for writing. This took place in about the 5th century BC. Ever since its discovery, silk has been used in fabrics to make elegant clothing for the elite classes of society.

It is hard to say what all the historical uses for silk were. The fiber has enjoyed a long history in both China and India, and the latter’s use dates back to the Indus civilization. Except for industry & parachutes, it can be concluded that silk has had a similar application as it does today.

How is Silk Used Today?

Besides its look, silk is a fairly strong fiber that makes it ideal to be used in other applications. It is because of its look that the fiber and the fabric are used in robes, underwear, blouses, shirts, and other clothing apparel.

Its luster, smooth texture, and different colors make it the perfect fabric when you want to dress for success or to impress. Silk is also used in many fashion accessories helping you complete that fashion look you like to wear. It is a nice fabric to have in your lingerie or bedclothes.

When men decided that jumping out of a perfectly good airplane was a strategy for battle, silk was called upon to help make those parachutes. Silk was used until nylon was made and replaced for this application.

Other uses include artistic efforts, most notably wall hangings but you can find silk used in different art formats. Also, you will see silk used in bedding including pillows and pillowcases.

One of its greatest achievements is that it is used for surgical sutures. Silk is not absorbed by the body making it perfect for those stitches that need to come out and wounds to heal without contamination.

Then in the recreational area, silk is often used in bike tires. The reason it is used for this important task is that it is light, flexible, and durable. Silk is used in making the bike tire casing but cotton and nylon can be used in that spot as well.

What can be Made out of Silk?


This is a very long list as just about anywhere other fibers or fabrics go silk can go also. If you have the money, it is possible to replace lesser materials with silk. But some of the more important products that are made with silk include blouses, dresses, shirts, ties, scarves hankies, lingerie, nightclothes, ascots, underwear, and so on.

Then silk can be used to make parachutes, bike tire casings as well as luxurious bed sheets and pillows, pillowcases, upholstery as well as pillows for sofas and easy chairs. We can’t forget wedding gowns, and bridal accessories, formal wear, and special event items.

Silk also has a place in home decor as it can be used for table cloths, table runners, napkins, wall hangings, and wallpaper. When used in this fashion your home’s decor will be elevated and have an element of class and sophistication to it.

Believe it or not, because of its strength, silk is also or has been used to make bags for gun powder. As well as comforter filling. But that is not all. Silk has found its way into the medical world and not just for sutures.

It is used to make special clothing to help patients with skin issues as well as disposable cups, holograms, and drug delivery systems. Silk is not just for the elites to look good when they want to display their wealth.

Clothing Made of Silk

Silk fabric has a way of making just about anyone look good. Its luster and sheen along with its deep rich colors bring a classy and sophisticated look to the person wearing the man different silk items that are available.

The good news is that silk is not just for women. Men can wear silk in shirts, dress suits, ties, scarves, ascots, and similar accessories. But women have far more clothing items they can don to up their fashion style.

There are dresses, blouses, handkerchiefs, scarves, formal gowns, high fashion outfits, hats, veils, and so on. Then when a woman wants to relax and be comfortable in the evening there is a host of lingerie she can choose from along with using a silk robe, kimono, pajamas, nighties, and so on.

Sundresses are not out of the question as are other fashion elements that women like to use to enhance their looks. There is an endless supply of clothing items where silk will work well. This is not including silk change purses, wallets, and other fashion items both men and women need when they go out for the evening.

With a little brainstorming, you may be able to think up a few more clothing and accessory applications where silk would be ideal. There is no real limit where you can use this fabric.

Silk Used for Sari


The most common silk product used to make saris comes from the Mulberry silkworm. One reason this variation of silk is used is that it is very soft and smooth. It is also one of the most expensive silk options you can use.

You may or may not be aware of this upcoming fact but there are about 10 variations of silk and they are almost all used to make a sari. Wild silk is another option and it comes in 3 varieties-- Eri, Muga, and Tussar.

The wild silk is found outside of commercial silk ventures and in the different forests of Asia. Antheraea paphia and Terminalia tomentosa are just two of the worms that produce wild silk.

Ahimsa silk is a more humane silk variant. It does not involve the killing of any animals to get the cocoons needed to produce this silk fiber. The result of the process is not as shiny and a little rougher than mulberry and other silk variants.

Raw silk is used as well and it is woven with the sericin still on the untreated fibers. This sticky substance is removed by chemicals and because it is raw it has an uneven feel to it when woven into a fabric.

Dupion silk will be the last silk variety mentioned here. Its trademark is the little nubs you can feel when you run your hand over the fabric. Those little nubs help create a nice two-tone color effect in saris and other outfits.

There are quite a few weave styles that use silk fibers like satin, chiffon, georgette, organza, and tissue. These weave styles all look elegant and the silk options for fabrics do not end here. there are still too many to be listed

Who Uses Silk?

Originally, silk was the domain of royalty and the elite. Wealthy people were the largest group of people to use this fabric and it was a great way to display their wealth and position. Not many peasants or common citizens could afford the high price tag.

Other groups that used this material were religious leaders. For example, many of the priests of Judaism used silk to clothe or cover the Torah. While the men of Islam were forbidden to wear silk. The most common explanation for this ban was for men to avoid any clothing that appeared feminine

In China, it wasn’t until the 17th AD Qing Dynasty that the Chinese peasants were permitted to wear silk. That dynasty lasted to 1911 and since that time just about anyone can wear this fabric.

Silk can be found at all levels of society and in many different non-royal or non-elite industries like bike tire manufacturing, parachute making, and medical applications. The rise of thrift stores also allowed poorer elements of society to wear silk hand-me-downs as those silk blouses, shirts, etc., have been donated to different thrift stores throughout the years.

Silk Cocoon Uses


Other than using the cocoons for clothing and other products, the cocoon contains natural proteins, amino acids, and collagen. Those are three prime ingredients in many anti-aging formulas. Those ingredients are also used to keep the skin feeling soft and supple, as well as well-nourished, and helps remove blemishes.

That means that silk cocoons have been and are being used in the beauty products industry. When the sericin is kept in the silk fiber you can use the cocoon to massage your face. The sericin helps keep your complexion clear.

If you do not use cocoons for beauty treatments, you can use them to spin your own silk fibers. Once that is done you can make your own hankies and other small, dainty fashion accessories.

Or you can be unique and creative by making your own silk paper. Impress friends and family by writing them a special note on your own silk paper you made yourself. It is a bit of a process but it might be fun doing once in a while.

Where is Silk Produced?


For thousands of years, according to some historians, silk was produced in China only. While there are archaeological finds in ancient India dating to the Indus period that had silk fabrics. Those fabrics were thought to have been part of international trade pacts.

However, China was and is still the biggest producer of silk fabrics. It produces about 290,000 kg every year. That translates into over 500,000 pounds and it takes about 5000 silkworms to create one kimono.

China's production rate more than doubles all the other silk-producing countries combined. India, Uzbekistan, Brazilian, Thailand, Viet Nam, North Korea, Romania, and Japan all produce sill but not to the extent China does.

In fact, India is the second-largest producer of silk and it can only muster about 77,000 kg per year or just over 150,000 pounds. The rest of the countries do not even come close to those two nations in silk production.

Some Final Words

Silk is elegant, sophisticated, and classy. Plus, it is soft, smooth, and comes in some very beautiful colors. It is a wonder it is a sought-after fabric. Its other attributes do not make silk a one-trick pony.

This fabric has multiple non-fashion uses that are essential to those industries making silk even more valuable. It is a good fabric to wear as it is also very durable.

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