Additional Helpful Silk Definitions from 1851

(The Useful Arts Employed in the Production of Clothing. London: Parker, 1851.)

Brocade . In the early part of the last century a favourite but costly stuff for dresses was formed of gold, silver, and silken threads, enriched with flowered ornaments of the same materials: this was called brocade. At the present day, however, all stuffs, grograms, satins, taffetas, and lustrings are called brocades, if they are adorned with flowers or other figures.

Damask is a term generally applied, not so much to the weaving of threads of different colours, as to the formation of a pattern by peculiar mode of weaving threads of the same colour. Table-cloths present a beautiful instance of this in linen; and the furniture employed frequently for beds, windows, sofas, and chairs, illustrates the same peculiarity in silk. Such fabrics are not much used at the present day for ladies’ dresses.

Gauze is a material in which the smallest quantity of silk is employed for a given size of woven fabric. This is effected by having very perceptible interstices between the threads; and as these interstices would much weaken the gauze if woven in the usual way, the threads are, by a peculiar arrangement of the loom, made to cross and loop over each other, something like the threads of a net. This entwining of the threads may be easily seen on looking at a piece of gauze.

Bombazine  is a mixture of silk and worsted: the former in the warp, and the later in the weft. Originally these were made only black, and used for mourning; but at the present day they are woven of a grayish colour, and afterwards dyed to any other that may be desired. The manufacture has been almost wholly removed from Spitalfields to Norwich.

Poplin and Lustre  are the names of two other kinds of goods in which silk and worsted are combined; but the proportion of silk is larger than in bombazine. Norwich shawls have within a few years risen to great celebrity: They are composed of silk mixed either with cotton or with worsted.

Persian, sarsenet, Gros-de-Naples, ducape, &c., are the names of many varieties of silk goods which do not differ in the mode of manufacture, but in the quality or quantity of the material used in them. Persian is a very inferior and flimsy kind of silk used for the commonest purposes where strength is not required. Sarsenet is somewhat stouter, and used for better purposes. Gros-de-Naples is much superior to both of them, being made with better silk, and a greater number of threads being woven in a given space. Ducape is also a stout silk, but of a softer texture than Gros-de-Naples.

Levantine is a stout twilled silk. Gros-des-Indes is a silk of which the weft is composed alternately of different colours, so that the material appears striped in the direction of the width.

Satin is a twilled silk, which owes it peculiar lustre to the number of threads of warp which are passed over by the weft, before it passes under one of them: sometimes the thread passes over as many as eight warp-threads before it interlaces, and thereby presents a glossy surface to the eye. When it comes out of the loom, satin frequently presents a slight degree of roughness or flossiness, on account of the comparative infrequency of the interlacings of the weft with the warp. To remove this, the satin is passed between heated rollers, by which the face is smoothed down, and the surface receives that beautiful lustre which belongs so peculiarly to satin.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s