Surprise! A Shirt that is Made of Silk


I became intrigued with my new shirt and started going down a silk “rabbit hole”. Then I wondered if I had already written about it. I found I’ve made 25 silk posts already! Here is a link to “Raw Silk or Noil?”  from August 8, 2022. HERE I went down the rabbit hole about silk in 2022! There are a lot of interesting silk subjects. Put silk in the search box on my home page.

I bought this jacket at a flea market in Tokyo last fall. The price was right: $3.00 it had been in a heap, but after I took it home and washed it, I was very happy with the look.

At home, a non-textile friend saw it and asked what the fabric was. I hadn’t paid any attention to that (I’m surprised!) and said cotton? She said it looked like raw silk. That alone embarrassed me so I began to think she might be right.

It was obvious that the fabric had a lot of slubs. I had heard of dupioni silk where the silk is reeled from double cocoons. I was hoping that my fabric was that, but alas, it sure didn’t look like what I read when I looked it up in A Silk Worker’s Notebook by Cheryl Kolander. “ It is regular, in the main, but every so often large slubs from where the two cocoons were joined are brought up into the yarn. Fabric woven from it is considered very subdued and elegant in a robust sort of way.”

So, I looked up raw silk and noticed a box titled “Raw Silk”. And I quote: “Unbleached, cultivated silk noil fabric is very popular under the name “raw silk”.

Noil silk. It has very short fibers left after the longer staple silk has been combed out. It consists of smooth fibers 1” and shorter, mixed with little tangled balls of fiber. The flecks are  also the crumbled remains of the chrysalis, that horn-like envelope that encloses the transforming silk caterpillar inside the cocoon. (Also, from Kolander.)

The jacket has the drape and feel of a medium weight cotton shirt. AND it is officially silk noil, not raw silk. The warp—cotton??

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