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All about satin

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Satin used in bedding

Structure of silk satin

Portrait of a lady in satin dress (1882) by Bolesław Łaszczyński, National Museum in Warsaw

Satin is a weave that typically has a glossy surface and a dull back. The satin weave is characterized by four or more cool fill or weft yarns floating over a warp yarn or vice versa, four warp yarns floating over a single weft yarn. Floats are missed interfacings, where the warp yarn lies on top of the weft in a warp-faced satin and where the weft yarn lies on top of the warp yarns in weft-faced satins. These floats explain the even sheen, as unlike in other weaves, the light reflecting is not scattered as much by the fibres, which have fewer tucks. Satin is usually a warp-faced weaving technique in which warp yarns are "floated" over weft yarns, although there are also weft-faced satins. If a fabric is formed with a satin weave using filament fibres such as silk, nylon, or polyester, the corresponding fabric is termed a satin, although some definitions insist that the fabric be made from silk. If the yarns used are short-staple yarns such as cotton, the fabric formed is considered a sateen.

A satin fabric tends to have a high lustre due to the high number of floats on the fabric. Because of this it is used in making bed sheets. Many variations can be made of the basic satin weave including a granite weave and a check weave. Satin weaves, twill weaves, and plain weaves are the three basic types of weaving by which the majority of woven products are formed.

Satin is commonly used in apparel: satin baseball jackets, athletic shorts, women's lingerie, nightgowns, blouses, and evening gowns, but also in some men's boxer shorts, briefs, shirts and neckties. It is also used in the production of pointe shoes for use in ballet. Other uses include interior furnishing fabrics, upholstery, and bed sheets.


Originally, during the Middle Ages, satin was made of silk; consequently it was very expensive, used only by the upper classes. Satin became famous in Europe during the twelfth century. The name derives its origin from the Chinese port city of Quanzhou, whose name in (medieval) Arabic was Zayton. During the latter part of the Middle Ages, it was a major shipping port of silk, using the maritime Silk Road to reach Europe.


  • Baronet or baronette has a cotton back and a rayon or silk front, similar to georgette.
  • Charmeuse is a lightweight, draping satin-weave fabric with a dull reverse.
  • Double face(d) satin is woven with a glossy surface on both sides. It is possible for both sides to have a different pattern, albeit using the same colours.
  • Duchess(e) satin is a particularly luxurious, heavy, stiff satin.
  • Faconne is jacquard woven satin.
  • Farmer's satin or Venetian cloth is made from mercerised cotton.
  • Gattar is satin made with a silk warp and a cotton weft
  • Messaline is lightweight and loosely woven.
  • Polysatin or poly-satin is an abbreviated term for polyester satin.
  • Slipper satin is stiff and medium- to heavy-weight fabric.
  • Sultan is a worsted fabric with a satin face.
  • Surf satin was a 1910s American trademark for a taffeta fabric used for swimsuits.


  • This weave produces smooth and soft fabrics that may give good service if they are not subjected to excessive hard wear.
  • Short-float fabrics are harder than long-float fabrics.
  • Long-float increases the sheen of a fabric, snag and pull if there are any protrusions or splinters on furniture.
  • Satin is often chosen when calls for luxurious fabrics for formal wear style.
  • It is the most suitable fabric for coat linings because its smooth surface allows coats to be slipped on and off very easily.
  • In general, it sheds dirt well, but bright rayon in a long-float satin weave will often have a metallic sheen that may appear greasy after continuous wear.
  • It requires more shafts in the weaving than plain or twill weaves, thereby increased in the cost of production.

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