Vintage Sewing

A Silk Fabric Comparison

November 23, 2011

Hello Ladies!

I’ve recently been sewing some dresses using two of my favorite fabrics – silk dupioni and silk shantung.  These gorgeous materials make the most stunningly elegant outfits, and they are just perfect for holiday ensembles.  But recently I’ve heard some people wondering, “What’s the difference between dupioni and shantung, anyhow?”

I’ll admit that the two are so closely related that it is sometimes tricky to tell the difference, but you can usually make an educated guess if you know the following infomation:

Silk Dupioni is thicker, has more slubs, and the general texture is almost rustic.  It has recently gained more favor for formal wear and party attire, though in previous years it has been considered not quite as formal as shantung because of its rougher appearance.

Silk Shantung is thinner (though it still has a crisp feel), and has much smaller and fewer slubs.  This lustrous silk is perfect for almost any type of gown, and when viewed from a distance you may not be able to distinguish any texture at all.  You can use shantung for nearly any historic period as well, from Elizabethan, to Regency, and the 1950s (my favorite!). 

You can see more comparison photos and read the full article here.

Happy sewing!

Katrina –

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve never sewn with either, but have wondered about the differences when browsing fabrics sometimes. You made it simple and clear to understand.

  2. When buying dupioni, or any silk for that matter there is something very important to keep in mind. Silk is sold by weight like gold. When buying silks you may run across the word momme (pronounced mummy). This applies to the thread count, like sheets. Many dupioni silks sold at chain fabric stores are low thread count and inferior quality. Its worth every penny to hunt up the good stuff.

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