Culture of silk dates back to around 1725BC.It is one of the oldest fibers known to man and originated in China. Legend has it that it was discovered by a Chinese empress who became fascinated by the shimmering threads of a cocoon that fell into her lap whilst sitting under a mulberry tree. ( The mulberry leaf is the only food which the silkworms feed upon. )
At one point in history Silk was considered even more precious than gold and was at first reserved for Chinese royalty only.
It was, for a long time ( A very long time. Around 3 thousand years ! ) a very well kept, guarded secret and travelers found attempting to smuggle the cocoons, silkworms or eggs out of the country were executed.
There’s a story that two monks managed to smuggle the the seeds of the mulberry tree and the silkworm eggs out of China by hiding them in their walking sticks.
By the 13th century Italy was a major power in the production of silk and even now, silk produced in the province of Como has a reputation of the highest of qualities.
It is a natural fabric, and like any natural fabric it has irregularities which to me only enhances the look. Most silk fabrics have an amazing softness and sheen.
There are many different types of silk of course ,and here are a some of the main ones used in the making of curtains.
Brocade: Is an excellent choice for formal, upscale curtains. It is a thick material covered with a woven embossed design. Sometimes even real gold or silver threads are woven into the fabric giving an absolutely luxurious metallic sheen.
Dupion: This fabric has a rough, irregular ,taffeta like apperance and is normally dyed in bright colors. There are various varieties; Italian, Indian and Chinese being the main ones.
Charmeuse has a shiny, satin like appearance and is the one most often brought to mind when silk is mentioned.
Silk fades quickly and isn’t advised for windows that receive a lot of bright sunshine. ( unless of course you like to change your decor on a more regular basis than usual )It is always advisable to both line, and interline a curtain when choosing this material to dress your windows.