Silk twill versus silk satin

From the ancient Silk Road to the present day, silk has dominated the world of fashion and still holds its allure and value. 

Recently I had customers asking me to explain the difference between the silk used to make their heirloom Hermès scarf and one of the silk scarves in the Debbie Millington collection. So I thought I would write a quick post to explain the difference between silk twill and silk satin weave. Though these two silks come with similar features, they are quite different in every sense.

Silk is unlike any other fabric, either man-made or natural. It is the strongest fibre in the world, making for a very durable scarf. There are derivatives being sampled at the moment by the silk spider, but the mulberry moth cocoons still retain very unique natural properties and characteristics. Silk is a great choice to wear in all seasons, absorbing moisture from the skin, making it cool and comfortable in the summer and it's conductivity keeping out the cold and retaining heat and warmth in winter.

Few designers in the fashion world, close the gap between fashion and art, and few have succeeded. Hermès, however, have designed some of the most coveted and recognisable scarf designs, worn and framed by the rich and famous throughout the world.

Hermès first started as a harness and bridle workshop for horses in Paris in 1837. Thierry Hermès catered to an elite market in Europe, and eventually the company expanded into other accessories, such as handbags and clothing. In 1937, one hundred years later, Hermès produced its first ever silk scarf, a classic square 90cm x 90cm in Silk Twill, which was to become an iconic work of art. The scarf featured a group of ladies playing a parlour game, ‘Jeu des Omnibus et Dames blanches’ and was designed in-house by Robert Dumas a member of the Hermès family. 

‘Jeu des Omnibus et Dames blanches’ Hermes silk classic squarre 90 c 90 cm

Over the decades, the company continued to grow in popularity, becoming a global powerhouse in the fashion world and its workshop, located outside Lyon, now employs a staggering 750 people. Often commemorative, designs range from classic motifs such as equestrian, military and nautical, playful botanical, natural and mythological, to quirky and contemporary themes. It takes about 18 months to produce a scarf from the screen engravers to completion, making it one of the most meticulously-crafted accessories in the world. Each scarf can demand as many as 45 silk printing screens in its production. The design house now completing more than 2000 designs in its collection,

The classic square has managed to transcend gender, age and personality, appealing to a diverse range of wearers. Famously worn by iconic ladies from Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn to Queen Elizabeth II and Madonna, the scarf provides the wearer the versatility to adapt to any style or situation. Today, the Hermès scarf still proves to be an essential part of the contemporary wardrobe, popular with both young and older generations, and by men and women alike.

Hermes scarves are made in silk twill, which can be identified by the diagonal rib, ridge, or wale weave lines that appear on the surface. This differs greatly from the silk satin which is the chosen silk for my collection, which is flat and does not have a weave line. Twill gives a very sculptural structured feel to your scarf, with great lustre and durability. It will hold its form, giving a sharp and crisp knot or tie, and is thicker than my chosen silk satin 10 ( usually a 12 or 14 weight ) making it easy to create a desired shape. During the printing process, twill allows the printer to achieve a very sharp picture and the texture of twill gives an elegant silvery glow to the scarf. The Hermes twill scarves are also hand rolled and hand stitched hems, which gives that added level of hand craftsmanship.

The scarves in the Debbie Millington collection are made on silk satin weave. It is glossy, shiny, shimmering, flat and smooth on the surface and does not have the weave lines visible in silk twill. Silk satin weave is lightweight making each scarf fall with grace and elegance. Sizes are large and wonderfully versatile and the drape and fluidity of a fabric is one of its key characteristics. The colours on silk satin will appear much more vibrant and intense than the twill. No other fabric can quite compete with the sensation silk satin gives. Its incomparable softness and silky touch on your skin is just so divine. Even a little neck scarf made of silk satin ensures that you stay warm or cool whatever the temperature and all the while enjoying the bright colours against your completion. 

The Debbie Millington silk collection also boasts magical themes of flora and fauna, with whimsical, exotic patterns and stunning colour combinations. The silk satin weave 10 its very lightweight and does not lend itself to having a rolled hand stitched hem as it will not give the thick rolled effect like the Hermès, however the hems are machine rolled and  hand sewn at the four corners to give an added level of sophistication.