Properties of Satin Fabric

    by Ian Kenney

    About the Author

    Ian Kenney began his writing career in 1994 at a small daily in Florida covering the politics and crime beats. Kenney's fiction and poetry have appeared in "The Florida Review," "Kudzu" and "The Missouri Review." Currently, he is a writer and producer in documentary and reality television. Kenney holds a Bachelor of Arts from Florida State University



    Satin was the first choice for fabric in the royal courts of 14th century England, and it is considered just as luxurious today. It’s a wedding gown staple and bed sheet extravagance, but it’s also used in everyday garments and upholstery.


    Satin is not the name of a raw material; it refers to the weave of the fabric. Satin is made from a low-twist yarn which is like a filament and is constructed using a process similar to a twill weave. The lengthwise yarn is floated over four horizontal yarns and the weft threads are almost hidden.

    Raw Materials

    Silk, cotton, wool and polyester are all fibers that are commonly woven into satin. High grade silk is the preferred choice, but polyester is a common, less expensive imitation that can be woven to appear as silk. When filament threads like silk, wool or polyester are used, the fabric is called satin. Fabric made with a satin weave from cotton is usually called sateen.


    Satin is glossy, smooth and sleek. It has one shiny side and one dull side. The characteristic sheen is created when the woven material is run through hot cylinders. The floating weft threads make it slick and luxurious but that also makes it challenging to tailor. It is difficult to keep in place on the sewing table and it slips easily under sewing machine feet. Cut edges fray quickly profusely.

    Uses and Durability

    While satin is typically used for delicate garments, it is also strong enough for athletic apparel like basketball shorts, track jackets and ballet shoes. Gown makers, particularly in the bridal industry, favor satin for its glossy finish and the fluid grace with which it hangs in pleats and necklines. Everyday satin garments like shirts, blouses and scarves are often machine washable in the delicate cycle provided they are not made of silk. Silk satin sheets, woven with very thin threads are among the most expensive sheets you can buy but they keep the sleeper cool in summer and warm in winter.