How Does A Silk Worm Make Silk?
Silk worms are the offspring of the Bombyx Mori moth. They spew out threads from tiny holes in their jaws which they use to spin into their egg baring cocoons. This production from start to finish takes 72 hours and during this time they produce 500-1200 silk threads.
Silk is a natural protein fibre, some form of which can be woven into textile. Silk is produced by several insects but only the silk moth caterpillar has been used for textile manufacture.
Other insects that can produce silk are bees, wasps, ants, silverfish, mayflies, beetles, fleas, flies and midges. Also various arachnids such as spiders produce silk too.
Silk And The Unpretty Truth.
Once the silk worm has spun its cocoon it will stay in it for 16 days as it transforms into the Bombyx Mori moth. After the transformation is complete it begins to secrete an alkaline based fluid that dissolves a whole in the silk so it can emerge. The silk farmers don’t want their silk damaged by this fluid so once the cocoon is completely formed they placed all the sacks into boiling water killing the worms inside.
The truth is most of the silk in the world is produced this way.
The good news is that there is an ethical way this fabric is being harvested. This way doesn’t result in the silk worm being boiled alive.
The alkaline solution the moths produce to exit the cocoon leaves the silk slightly discoloured but the bombyx mori can survive after providing us with a little luxury and this is process is known as peace silk.
The Real Silk Gown.
When thinking of silk the first thought is a luxury item of clothing, a silk tie or a wedding dress. It is a fabric associated with quality and finished beautifully.
There are many different types of silk and the price can vary from £10 – £100 per metre that is $12.87 – $128.71. The price differs depending on the silk farms and how they manage their supplies. Organic silk tends to be more expensive as the cost to sustain may be higher.
The amount of fabric required to make a couture wedding dress on average is between 4 and 6 meters. If we take some of these bigger skirts into consideration this can push the per metre up to 10 and sometimes more. Making a silk wedding dress from scratch will require special needles and a clean cutting space.
Some of the properties of silk are beneficial to the wearer. Firstly it dose not hold creases like synthetic fabrics. As you will see in Princess Diana‘s wedding dress on the 29th July 1981. Once she steps out of the carriage her dress has deep creases as soon as she inside the cathedral her creases had dropped out of her shantung gown. Another property of silk is its “slippy ness” and is often used in men’s suit lining making it easier to push arms through when getting dressed. It traps heat in colder season and its cool on the skin in warmer seasons which is properly why silk is perfect for negligee and most sleep wear.
Silk feels beautiful against the skin and only recently has technology come close to recreating this feeling in synthetics. All to save money but to also eliminate the cons of choosing a real silk gown. There is something special about a real silk gown/ wedding dress. Its timeless, vintage and falls into the rules of the wedding tradition.
Art work La Femme (1895) by Giacomo Grosso, 1860-1938