how is silk made

How Is Silk Made? Look Into the Process of Making this Luxurious Fabric

I’m just sitting here on my couch and looking at videos when I see a video on TikTok of a shocked woman talking about how silk pillowcases are made. And it struck me. Do I even know how is silk made? The answer is no, I don’t. That’s why I decided to do some research and found out that most people are like me and don’t know the behind the scenes process of making this luxurious fabric. I have to say that I wasn’t impressed! 

Few materials are as luxurious and elegant as silk. It’s been used throughout history for clothing, tapestries, and even currency. While its production is often shrouded in mystery, the process of making silk is actually quite fascinating or shocking. Whichever you choose. So, if you’re curious about how this popular fabric is made, read on!

History of silk

The first evidence of silk production comes from China, where archaeologists have found silk fibers in pottery dating back to the Neolithic period. It is thought that early humans may have used plant fibers to create rudimentary forms of cloth and rope.

Silk production began in earnest during the reign of the Chinese emperor Huangdi, who lived around 2697 BCE. According to legend, Huangdi’s wife Leizu was sitting beneath a mulberry tree when a cocoon fell into her cup of tea. She was so fascinated by the unspooling thread that she began to experiment with it herself. 

From there, word of this miraculous new fabric spread throughout Asia and eventually made its way to Europe via the Silk Road. By the Middle Ages, silk was a highly prized commodity and was often used as currency. Kings and queens wore lavish silk gowns, while ordinary people made do with cheaper wool or linen.

In the 18th century, European demand for Chinese silk began to outpace supply, and the secret of silk production finally began to spread beyond Asia. The first European silks were produced in Italy, but France soon became a major producer of this luxurious fabric.

Today, a lot of the world’s silk is produced in China, where it has been a treasured part of the culture for thousands of years. Silk is still associated with luxury and wealth, but it is now more accessible than ever before.

What is silk made of?

The first thing you need to know is that silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms. And before you ask, yes, this does hurt the worms. 

The main ingredient in silk is a protein called fibroin. The process starts by boiling the cocoons in water until the worms inside die. When the worm is ready to emerge from the cocoon as a moth it needs to be killed, otherwise, it would damage the silk thread.

Then, the cocoons are unwound and stretched into long threads. The continuous thread can be over a mile long. These threads are then woven into the silk fabric that we know.

How is silk made?

Silk comes from the cocoons of silkworms. The worms spin their cocoons by secreting a sticky liquid from their mouths. Once the cocoon is complete, the worm goes into a pupal stage and eventually emerges as a moth. However, before that happens, the cocoons are harvested.

Harvesting silkworm cocoons is a delicate process. The cocoons are placed in boiling water which loosens the sticky secretion that holds them together. This allows workers to carefully unwind the long silk threads. The threads are then sorted by quality and color before they’re ready to be used.

Is silk ethical?

The process of making silk is pretty cruel to the creatures involved – the silkworms. In order to get silk, manufacturers breed silkworms in captivity and feed them a diet of mulberry leaves. Once the worms have reached a certain size, they’re placed in small cages and their food is gradually withdrawn until they enter a dormant phase known as “silk reeling.”

At this point, the worms are boiled alive inside their cocoons to preserve the length and strength of the silk threads. And that’s what silk is – the long, strong threads that are spun from the cocoons of silkworms.

If you are not comfortable with this, there are plenty of other fabrics out there that don’t involve killing animals to be made. Consider giving silk the cold shoulder the next time you’re out shopping for clothes.

See also: How Is Leather Made? The Eye-Opening Process From an Animal to Your Wardrobe

3 vegan silk alternatives

If you’re looking for a luxurious fabric that has a similar feel to silk, there are several options available. Here are just three of the options you can choose from.

Lotus silk

This beautiful material is vegan and made from the fibers of the lotus plant, and it has a range of benefits that make it perfect for eco-conscious consumers.

Lotus silk is exceptionally strong and durable, meaning it will last longer than other fabrics. It’s also hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to bacteria, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin. And because it’s made from plant fibers, vegan lotus silk is completely biodegradable.

If you’re looking for a fabric that is kind to the environment and your skin, lotus silk is a perfect choice. With its luxurious feel and long-lasting durability, it’s sure to become a favorite in your wardrobe.


Ramie is a plant-based fabric that has been used for centuries in Asia. It is made from the fibers of the ramie plant, which is a member of the nettle family. The fibers are strong and durable, making them ideal for a variety of uses.

Ramie fabric is often compared to silk because of its smooth, silky texture. It is also a vegan-friendly alternative to silk, as it does not require the use of any animal products in its production.

Ramie fabric is available in a variety of colors and weights, making it suitable for a wide range of projects. It can be used for everything from clothing to home decor items.

Orange silk

Orange silk is a beautiful and unique vegan silk alternative. It has a soft, luxurious feel and a gorgeous sheen. It is also environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Best of all, it’s affordable! 

So, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly, stylish, and affordable vegan silk alternative, orange silk is a great choice. It is perfect for a summer dress or blouse. It’s also great for linings, shirts, and skirts.

No matter what your budget or needs, there’s sure to be a silk alternative that’s perfect for you.

Key takeaways

How is silk made? Now you know it! The process of making silk is not as glamorous as you might think, but we must talk about it. I hope this article has quenched your curiosity about how this popular fabric is made and made you rethink using it. Many wonderful silk alternatives are made without hurting animals which will hopefully become more and more popular in the near future.

Petra profile image

Hi, I’m Petra and for most of my life, I was an omnivore. A vegan couple made me curious about veganism, so I did some research. What I found out about the animals, our planet, and the health benefits of a vegan diet made me go vegan overnight. It’s been 5 years now and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

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