Satin is a type of glossy fabric first made from silk in China. Exportation during the Middle Ages introduced satin to Italy in the 12th century. By the 14th century, satin garments were greatly appreciated throughout Europe because of their high gloss, and were often the choice of royalty for both their feel and sheen.
Traditional satin has a glossy and a dull side, which is important to remember when sewinggarments. Those who sew need to be sure to assemble garments on the appropriate side in order to showcase the gloss and shine. While satin was once made exclusively of silk, satin is now made with polyester, acetate, nylon, and rayon. These other fabrics provide a less expensive means to achieve the glossy finish provided by satin.
Shine from satin is derived through its weave. Some weft or weave yarns are brought to the surface in a process called floating, which allows some of the yarn to reflect light, thus producing the shine and gloss. In some cases, it is possible to achieve this effect on both sides of a garment, producing double-faced satin. This material is often highly desirable, since it is soft against the skin, but will tend to cost more, particularly if made with silk.
There are several main types of satin, which can vary in thickness, flexibility, and weight. Many materials are also backed with satin. Wool crepe and velvet often have a satin backing or asatin lining, which eliminates having to wear slips or camisoles.
Some of the common satin types are duchess satin, satin faconne, slipper satin, and delustered satin. Duchess satin is used primarily in dress fabrics, and is a common choice for wedding dresses. It is a fairly stiff satin with a heavy weight and is glossy on one side only.
Satin faconne or satin jacquard is a type of satin with patterns woven through it. These could be stripes, paisley, or virtually any design. Satin jacquard comes in a variety of weights and qualities, but tends toward being a looser more flexible fabric than duchess satin.
Slipper satin is often used for shoes. It may be used on dye-to-match shoes for prom goers and for bridesmaids. It’s also a common choice, not surprisingly for slippers. Slipper satin also covers toe shoes worn by ballet dancers.
Delustered satin, also called peau de soie (skin of silk), is a less shiny, lightweight material. Unlike the shine associated with other forms of satin, peau de soie is often described as having a dull luster. Delustered satin is usually finished on both sides, making it double-faced. One can also note fine-grained threads in this type of satin.