Silk: From Curtains to Ball Gowns
Oh, heavenly silk! This natural fiber has been used for eons to create elegant home furnishings and clothing items. Even with the advent of synthetic fabrics, the popularity of silk has never waned. Apparently there will always be something endearing about this magical fabric.
The Beginnings of Silk
According to ancient Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi discovered silk quite by accident. Taking tea under a mulberry tree, she was startled when a cocoon suddenly fell into her cup and unraveled its shimmering threads. Her husband, Emperor Huang Ti was so impressed, he ordered his people to cultivate the silkworms and spin the newly found fiber into luxurious textiles.
For the Love of Silk
Taffeta and dupioni conjure up images of old world opulence. Silk curtains with their dressmaker details and plush interlined "petticoats" remind one of elegant ball gowns. Even if you're not one for formal attire, you might be able to envision yourself in a silk dress adorned with fanciful ruching and sparkling beadwork.
As dreamy as silks are, they inevitably wrinkle. So how do you go about smoothing out the creases? You can look the other way if your silk curtains have a few wrinkles. But a ball gown reduced to a mass of wrinkles is never in style. High heat damages silk fibers, so using a hot iron is totally out of the question. Instead, try removing the wrinkles with steam by either hanging the fabric in the bathroom after a shower or using a professional quality steamer.
You can also try using the steam setting on your iron. Steam the silk by holding the iron at least 6-8 inches from the fabric. When using the steam method be careful not to let moisture condense on the fabric. Water will cause stubborn spotting which is almost as difficult to remove as a stain. To be on the safe side, take your silk creations to the dry cleaners. It may not be the cheapest route but it's the best way to preserve your investment.
Say No to Sun
Silks and ultraviolet light do not mix. While your silk ball gown is safely stored in the closet, your curtains are another matter. UV rays can ruin silk in just a few short years. Once the fibers become brittle and the color fades, they're beyond repair. Make sure your curtains are lined and interlined to provide a barrier from the elements. It's also a good idea to hang silk curtains in rooms without direct sun.
As delicate as silks appear, believe it or not it is a very durable textile. You just need to know how to clean and maintain the fabric. Never try hand washing or treating stains at home. Leave that to the professionals. Find a dry cleaner that specializes in fine fabrics to take care of your precious silk items.
Giving your silk a well-needed rest once in a while is a good idea. Store silk in a cotton storage bag or another material that will allow the silk to breathe. Dry cleaning bags or PVC storage bags are sure death for any type of silk fabric. Plastic will trap ambient moisture resulting in mildew or discoloration. Don't forget moths love to munch on silk, so throw in cedar chips, blocks or balls to repel hungry larvae.
Storage Bags for Silk
Which Curtain and Gown combo from this Hub is your favorite?
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