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Characteristics and Uses of Silk Dupioni Fabric We Bet You Never Knew

Characteristics of Silk Dupioni Fabric
Dupion or dupioni is a pure silk fabric made from raw silk. It is available in a wide range of colors, and is widely used for creating drapes and formal dressing. In this article, we will study the characteristics of silk dupioni fabric, and see what makes it so popular with designers.
Anuj Mudaliar
Last Updated: May 10, 2018
Quick Tip
While dupioni and shantung silk are very similar, here's how to differentiate between the two:
1. Dupioni silk has a rustic appearance with a lot more slubs (crosswise irregularities in texture).
2. Also, dupioni silk is the thicker of the two fabrics.

The term dupioni comes from the Italian word 'doppio', which means 'double'. This is because, the silkworms used to make this luxury fabric are placed very close together in a congested area, which forces the worms to build a single cocoon around themselves. This cocoon is then put into hot air or steam to unravel the silk strands. The silk thread obtained appears slightly twisted and uneven. When fully unraveled, a cocoon can produce around 1 km of silk.

Cloth produced by using this twin-silk strand has small inconsistencies, and no two pieces of silk are identical. Sometimes, one may also see small bits of the cocoon on the fabric. These may appear as tiny specks or streaks.

Silk Dupioni Fabric Properties
  • Dupioni silk is a light fabric, with a shimmering, crisp texture.
  • The double-thread nature of the silk makes it stronger than other silk variants.
  • It is known to have many lumpy, lateral strands of thread that are called slubs.
  • It is very resistant to wrinkles and can hold a crease pretty well, making it easy to cut and sew. It is also good for beading and embroidery.
  • The fabric is usually made without the use of any chemicals, which makes it ideal for many color dye variations.
  • Washing the silk with water removes the stiffness of the fabric and makes it soft.
Uses of Silk Dupioni Fabric
  • This fabric is usually woven with different colors of threads scattered through the cloth, which gives it an iridescent shade, similar to silk taffeta, and can be substituted as such.
  • This cloth is also used to make some beautiful designs that are striped or floral, making it a versatile cloth for casual and formal clothing.
  • Dupioni silk cloth can be used to create various fabric items. One can make some very beautiful jackets, blouses, dresses, skirts, and bridal wear with this.
  • It can also be used to create home accessories such as drapes, doilies, tablecloths, and the cloth for sofas and chairs.
How to Care for Silk Dupioni Fabric
Washing Technique:
  1. To wash dupioni silk, put the cloth carefully in a tub of lukewarm water (not more than 35°C), with a little mild detergent.
  2. Lightly rinse the cloth, while being careful that you don't clump it or pull it out of shape.
  3. Remove the fabric from the water, and run some cold water over it to rinse out the soap.
  4. Quickly put the fabric in another tub of warm water and add some vinegar to it. This will stop the soap from causing any harm to the cloth.
  5. Now, rinse the cloth again in cold water to remove the smell of vinegar. But be careful that you don't stress the cloth, as this could weaken the weave.
  6. Dupion shrinks when washed. Therefore, it is important, that you wash the fabric before sewing it, to avoid shrinkage on later washes.
  7. Test-wash a small area of the fabric to see if the dye runs, and if it does, avoid water, and use only dry cleaning. This is especially true with dark colors. Also, if you wish to maintain the original stiffness of the cloth, it is recommended that you use dry cleaning instead of a water wash.
  • Lay the fabric on a thick towel and fold the towel to a roll shape. Let the cloth dry in this way, overnight.
  • If necessary, hang the fabric to dry in an airy space where there is no direct sunlight, till it is slightly damp, and then get it ironed.
  • On the damp cloth, use an iron to dry the rest of the moisture on a low temperature setting.
  • Never apply too much pressure on the seams.
  • Do not try to make the cloth wet again during the ironing process. Even the use of steam irons can be harmful to this fabric.
  • As far as apparel is concerned, it is best to turn them inside out before ironing.
Other Tips:
  • Dupion fabric does not stretch a lot. Therefore, the measurements have to be perfect when making clothes from this fabric.
  • If your dupion cloth is very wrinkled, let it hang for a few days. The wrinkles will gradually relax on their own. Extremely stubborn wrinkles can be removed by ironing.
  • If water spots are formed, it can be removed if all the moisture is immediately blotted out. However, avoid rubbing the fabric too hard.
  • Perspiration can also cause the fabric to stain, so it is advised to wear a cotton blouse or shirt under the silk dress.
  • Never use fabric freshening sprays on this silk, as it can also cause stains.
  • If your drapes are made from dupion silk, vacuum them regularly to remove dirt or dust, which may damage the cloth over time. Also, any drapes that get direct sunlight need to be lined with cotton for protection.
  • Always store dupion fabrics in a cool, dry, and dark closet.
One should remember that because dupion silk is a natural product, it is almost certain to have a few natural flaws. Therefore, you should order a little extra material than what you actually need.