Raw Silk Noil is all the rage right now and for good reason! The beautiful nubby texture, soft drape, and reasonable price point make this fabric hard to resist.
When it comes to fiber, length = stability. The traditional silk that you are probably most familiar with is made from the very long fibers of fibroin produced by moth caterpillars. These long, prismatic fibers have a shiny, smooth texture and high level of durability. Silk noil, while made from the same fiber source, utilizes the shorter fibers unused in the production of highly sought after traditional silk. This shorter fiber length produces a nubby fabric with a slight sheen and is more akin to cotton, but with greater depth and texture. Although these fibers do not have the supreme strength that silk does, they still make a durable fabric that can be used for garments that will last for years to come.
Since Silk Noil is made from the shorter, “less desirable” fibroin fibers, the cost definitely reflects this. It is much more affordable than traditional silk fabric while still preserving many of the wonderful qualities that silk has. Although it has the thicker feel of a cotton fabric, it definitely retains the some of the wonderful drape that silk is known for. It is also one of the more easily dyed natural fibers so it comes in a huge array of deep and rich colors.
Traditional silk is notoriously difficult to sew with. Not so with silk noil! This slightly sticky, stable fabric is almost as easy to work with as quilting cotton. Great even for a beginning seamstress, silk noil is easy to manipulate when cutting and sewing and accepts pins without issue.
Uses: This drapey, stable fabric is great for all kinds of garments including long dresses and skirts, blouses and slacks. We also highly recommend if for oversized and drop shoulder garments as the drape creates an elegant silhouette that hugs your frame. Recommended patterns include the Kielo Wrap Dress, Inari Tee, Hadley Top, Fen Dress, Charlie Caftan, Helga Wrap Playsuit, the Helmi Trench Blouse or Tunic, among others.
Care: One of the huge advantages of Raw Silk Noil is its easy care instructions. Although the best way to maintain the fiber’s original look is dry cleaning, this is a totally washable silk! If you decide to wash your silk noil, you can expect a softer, even more slubby texture over time. You may also notice a slight fading over time, as can be expected with most natural fibers. We highly recommend a gentle wash and low tumble dry before using your fabric followed by gentle cycle or hand washing of your finished garment and a flat dry.
If you are new to raw silk, give it a try! Although it has the intimidating "silk" title, it really is a fantastic fabric for all levels.