What is Satin?

Satin, rather than being a type of fiber, is a type of weave. It is the weave that creates the characteristic shiny look and the incredibly smooth feel of satin. Satin is typically woven from silk, polyester, or other synthetic material.

The Weave

To understand how satin works, it is important to know how materials are woven. WiseGeek.com describes two important terms, warp and weft.  satinThe warp strands run vertically and the weft strands run horizontally. There are many different ways to weave together the warp and weft strands to create different feels and appearances. In a regular weave, the warp and weft strands are woven singly, one over the top of each other. In a satin weave, at least four warp strands must be woven over the top of every weft strand. This is called “floating.” Floating the four strands gives the material a very smooth feel and one shiny side.  This smooth, silky feel, makes satin sheets perfect for hot summer nights,  making your bed a cool, and comfortable. This weave also makes satin sheets very durable.


Silk vs. Synthetic

Wikipedia explains that the most commonly known silk comes from the cocoons of the mulberry silkworm. Silk must be harvested and transformed into fibers in a process that is very involved. This is usually reflected in its price, silk being much more expensive than many other fibers.

Satin sheets made of silk are usually very expensive and also difficult to care for. As a natural fabric, silk is prone to shrinking and can be easily discolored. For this reason, they most often must be dry cleaned. According to Doityourself.com, polyester and other synthetic satin can usually be washed on the gentle cycle, with cold water in your washing machine. They can also be dried on low or no heat settings in your dryer.  This ease of care, and lower cost make polyester satin sheets more feasible for everyday use.


Satin sheets or even a satin comforter can give your bedroom a luxurious look and feel. They can also give you a cool and comfortable night of sleep. With the availability of synthetic satin sheets, there are a number of affordable options, so you can enjoy luxury satin in your home.


Photo “Purple Satin Fabric” courtesy of Sherrie Thai

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