How Is a Silk Comforter Made?

Silk comforters are not as popular as down comforters, but they have many properties that make them a fine choice in bedding. Some retailers claim they are as warm as down which is not true. Though they are extremely good insulators, down is the king of weight to warmth ration in down bedding as well as clothing. But there is no need to exaggerate the qualities of a silk comforter. It has more than enough positive aspects to qualify it as one of the most luxurious items you can have in your home.

Silk bedding was first invented in China, but is now emerging as one of the more popular luxury household items. Silk bedding includes sheets, pillow cases, duvet covers and silk comforters. The silk sheeting material is primarily charmeuse or habotai. Silk comforters are covered with charmeuse, habotai, or cotton, and they are filled with silk floss.

Silk floss looks similar to a cotton ball that has been stretched out and flattened, but the individual fibers are very long. The extremely long fiber length is the main quality that makes silk fabric so smooth. Silk floss comes in different types, including mulberry, where the silk worms are fed a diet of pure mulberry leaves, and tussah silk floss that comes from silk worms that eat from the wild.

Silk Production

The production of cultivated silk is known as sericulture. There are several stages of production that begin with the silk moth laying its eggs. After hatching, the caterpillars begin feeding on mulberry leaves, increasing in size 10,000 times by their 35th day of life, at which time they are ready to spin silk cocoons.

The silk worm produces the silk in a pair of glands in its head, and then forced out as a liquid through small openings called spinnerets. The silk liquid turns into fiber as soon as it comes into contact with the air. A typical silk worm can produce about 1 mile of silk in 2-3 days, encasing itself in a cocoon.

After a silk worm transforms into a moth, it secretes a liquid onto the silk threads to dissolve them, so it can emerge. But in the production of pure mulberry silk, most of the worms are killed with heat before they change. A few are allowed to survive for continued breeding.

The cocoons are brushed to find the end of the silk filament, and then the silk is wound off onto a reel. One cocoon contains approximately 1,000 yards of silk filament. This is called raw silk. Several filaments are combined into 1 yarn.

Wild silk is harvested from cocoons found in the wild. After feeding on a diet of wild mulberry and whatever else a silk worm chooses to eat, the wild silk is a darker color. Wild silk is known as Tussah and is a bit coarser in texture than mulberry silk. Duppioni is another type of wild silk and is produced when two silkworms spin cocoons that are joined together.

Making a Silk Comforter

Silk fiber is reeled if it is to be used to make silk fabric, but it is layered and stretch to make the silk floss batting used as insulation in a silk comforter. The process begins by opening the silk cocoon and turning the worm out. Then the silk is soaked and washed with water and then stretched over a u-shaped bamboo bracket that holds the silk layer until it has dried.

Next the silk layers are taken off the bracket and several people pull the edges out to stretch the cocoon into 1 thin layer measuring about 6′ x 6′. Many cocoons are stretched and layered, 1 on top of the other to form a silk batting layer. This silk batting is then quilted into a silk comforter using either a silk fabric or cotton fabric cover.