Known as the “Queen of Fabric,” silk is a luxurious material with a distinct luster, delicately soft feel, and incredible tensile strength. It has the ability to wick excess heat away from the body during the hot summer months while limiting heat loss during the cold winter season, allowing you to stay cool and comfortable all year round.
The earliest reference to silk fabric dates back more than 8,000 years ago in China. The material was highly regarded, reserved for royalty and used as a form of currency. Silk production eventually spread to Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, before heading west to India and Europe along the legendary Silk Road.
The Making of Mulberry Silk
Skilled artisans in Vietnam have been weaving silk for thousands of years, with whole villages dedicated to silk production, such as Van Phuc in the North and Bao Loc in the South. Both are located at high altitudes with cooler climates, heavy rainfall and high humidity, making them ideal places to grow mulberry trees and produce silk.
To make silk fabric, the villagers must first raise silkworms. These insects feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, growing to the size of a human finger within just 25 to 30 days. At this time, they will release a silk filament and spin a cocoon around themselves for protection during the metamorphosis process.
The next step requires exact timing. The villagers must collect the fiber before the silkworms turn into moths and break out of their cocoon. They extract the silk filament by plunging the cocoons into boiling water, then brushing it to find the loose end, and unraveling the thread.
The fibers are then spun efficiently by modern machines before they’re woven into fabric. For the most part, the weaving in Vietnam is done manually with wooden looms. Master weavers interlace five to ten sets of threads around each other on the loom to create distinct patterns and fabric variations.
For example, Silk Habutai has a plain weave with a noble sheen and incredibly soft handle. Silk Crepe sports a fine weave with a matte finish and a distinct grainy texture. And Silk Twill features a distinguished diagonal rib that gives it added opacity and durability, as well as a smooth texture and great luster.
Hand Silk Screening
Metiseko silk partners are from the famed Bao Loc silk village. Not only is our fabric made in the village, but our allover patterns are hand silk screened there as well. The artisans in Bao Loc are some of the last craftsmen to keep this tradition alive.
They start by developing the colors, mixing raw pigment with a water-based thickening paste to yield the ideal color with the perfect consistency. Once they’re happy with the mixture, they move on to the printing frames.
They break down the print into different layers with different stencils - one stencil for one color - and fix each layer to a large rectangular frame.
They then attach the silk fabric to a table and carefully lay one frame on top. Clack! With one confident stroke, they spread the thick dye evenly, embedding the gorgeous color in the silk wherever the stencil allows. They then finish the process by boiling the fabric to fasten the color and soaking it in a softener to restore its soft feel.
Metiseko is proud to support Bao Loc’s last hand silk screening craftsmen. Look at your Metiseko silk garment and examine the details of the print. You might find a deeper appreciation for the garment knowing that the colors were laid there by a Bao Loc craftsman’s talented hands.