Mulberry Silk Pillowcase

What Is Mulberry Silk? The Gift of the Bombyx Mori Moth

What Is Mulberry Silk? The Gift of the Bombyx Mori Moth

In the search for different fibers, people have looked just about everywhere. Most fibers come from animals and plants, but one surprising element where we can find great fibers is in insects. You may be surprised at this fact but silk, one of the most used fibers in the world, is insect-produced. Silk is an amazing fabric that combines luxury, comfort, and health benefits, and when it comes to silk, there is no better than mulberry silk. And why is this type of silk the best one? The answer lies within the fiber’s producers.

Silk is made with the fibers that are used by moths to make their own cocoons, and mulberry silk is made by no other than a species of moth called Bombyx mori. These moths produce a fiber that is pristine white, odorless, and very strong. Manufacturers have been using this fiber to make a fine, smooth textured fabric  for centuries.

However, it is important to understand that not all silk is made equal. A lot of different insects make silk, and not all of them make the kind of fiber you need for fabrics. In this guide, our aim is to show you how silk is made and why mulberry silk stands out from all the rest, making it the highest quality silk you can get.

What is Mulberry Silk Fabric?

Mulberry silk fabric gets its name after the leaves of the mulberry tree, but how exactly do you go from leaves to the fabric? That’s when things get interesting. The fabric is produced with the fiber that silkworms make to construct their cocoons, but not any species will do. These silkworms are the caterpillar stage of the moth known as Bombyx mori, and these worms eat nothing but mulberry leaves. The caterpillars are the ones that turn the leaves of the mulberry trees into mulberry silk threads.

They produce this fine thin fiber to make their cocoons, and the long unbroken thread is the purest white you can get. The fiber is then woven into a cloth that turns into a splendid, smooth fabric that can be used in many different ways.

Mulberry silk is incredibly durable and strong while being soft and smooth, and its natural color when undyed makes for an incredible, snowy white. This makes Mulberry silk fabric one of the finest in the world.

Another thing you should know is that Mulberry silk has endured the test of time, it has been produced for thousands of years and has gotten better as manufacturing procedures evolved. The Chinese developed silk production a millennia ago. The process is called sericulture, and after realizing the benefits of the mulberry leaves, they started domesticating the Bombyx mori moth, especially for their production of mulberry silk.

From mulberry leaves to mulberry silk.

To properly understand the properties and benefits of mulberry silk, it's essential to comprehend how the fabric gets made, and there is no better way to start than by following the process of the primary workers, the silkworms.

The fabric comes from unraveling the fiber that the caterpillar stage of the Bombyx mori moth uses to make its own cocoons. The caterpillars use these cocoons to protect themselves while starting the wonderful process of metamorphosis that turns them into moths. While in this stage, they need to be protected, and this necessity is what makes the cocoon material a great textile.

You see, the mulberry silk fibers they produce are great at keeping the moths safe from fungal or bacterial infections, while also regulating temperature and protecting it from dirt and debris. Aren’t those great qualities to have in a fabric?

Given that the domesticated moths diet consists strictly of mulberry leaves, the produced fiber stays the same, in both color and quality. It is common practice to only use the innermost part of the cocoon to weave the fabric since it’s the part that had less exposure and remains the most protected and therefore, unspoiled fiber.

Another advantage of mulberry silk is that the way the caterpillar produces it is in a long, unbroken thread. Their cocoons are made by wrapping the fiber around itself, and when unraveled, you get a thread that may be up to one kilometer and a half. 

From the fiber to the fabric.

We’ve explained how the moth is essential to the production of Mulberry silk, now it is time to shift from the caterpillars to the human producers and how they’ve changed the processes that result in this fantastic fabric.

Silk is essential for the Bombyx mori moth’s reproduction cycle. The fiber is indispensable for the passage from one stage to the other, and reaching maturity is crucial for reproduction. These are the same conditions needed to produce mulberry silk, so in order to maintain these fortunate conditions, humans started domesticating the Bombyx mori moths. Resulting from the domestication, two distinct procedures emerged to collect the silk the caterpillars produce. 

The two ways are largely dependent on the treatment of the moths. The most traditional way involves harvesting the silk while the moth is in the cocoon. The way it’s done is by boiling the cocoons, and brushing the outer part until you find the end of the fiber. Once located, you unravel the cocoon entirely, getting a long, unbroken thread to work with. This process kills the moth, and some people use them as a food source.

The other style involves a different treatment of the moths, leaving them alive and well. The method is called Peace Silk, or Ahimsa, and true to its name, the idea is to patiently wait until the moth leaves its cocoon, making a hole in it. The moth gets to live, but resulting from the hole, you get a silk strand that is cut into several pieces.

Regardless of the method they use, once the cocoon is unraveled, the producers weave the strand or strands into the fabric. They can weave it in a lot of different ways and it is important to underline that mulberry silk refers to the type of fiber rather than a weaving style.

The qualities of mulberry silk.

Mulberry silk has a number of qualities that distinctly place it above other kinds of silk. Its texture is incredibly smooth, it is hypoallergenic and very durable. The long and uniform length of the individual fibers is what gives the fabric its smoothness and softness.

The fabric is made smoother by the long fibers you get by fully unraveling the cocoon. These long fibers can be spun into longer threads by the manufacturers, much more than with other natural fibers. What makes silk unique is that it is the only natural filament fiber, which means that they are made in continuous lengths. This characteristic makes it free from lumpy spots that can be present in staple fibers, which are made of shorter fibers spun together and may be uncomfortable for their unevenness.

The natural protective qualities of the cocoon fiber are what make for the durability of the fabric. In the same way the cocoon protects the moths, the fabric protects us. The tensile strength of each silk strand is comparable to steel in proportion to its size and weight, an incredibly soft armor.

Silk is not only strong and resistant to hazards, but it's equally protective when it comes to microbes and fungus, keeping the fabric fresh and hygienic. Like that wasn't enough, it's also hypoallergenic, given that the protein in the fiber is biocompatible with humans, so it rarely causes allergic reactions or irritations. If you are prone to allergies or have sensitive skin, mulberry silk might very well be your best option.

And another advantage is that silk is naturally odorless, another great attribute of this fabric.

How does mulberry silk compare to other types of silk?

 All silk comes from moth cocoons, and the species of moths that produce silk varieties are closely related. What makes the difference with mulberry silk is that the moths that produce this variety feed entirely on mulberry leaves.

When you consider Mulberry silk and other types of silk, the thing that changes are the insects that produce them, but they all remain unequivocally silk, since the term is used to define any protein produced by insects. There are ways to produce synthetic silk and different fibers that try to imitate silk qualities but the real deal comes from insects, and in most cases, moths.  

There are other silk fabrics that are made with mulberry silk, like crepe de chine silk, but they get their names according to their production methods and the properties obtained according to the method in question. But what makes mulberry silk different is the quality of the fibers and its uniformity. When you get wild silk or other varieties made by different insects, there may be variations from strand to strand due to their nutrition. That is not the case with mulberry silk, the unique diet makes for strands of silk that are equal in texture, color, and diameter.


What are the cons and pros of Mulberry silk?

The pros. 

Mulberry silk is quite advantageous for textile purposes, especially when it comes to comparing texture and strength. It feels rather fine while still being durable. It is incredibly smooth and very comfortable, both for wear and bedding. It's almost like having skin silk.

It is very easy to dye, given that its natural color is as white as you can get, making it a great candidate to come in a selection of different colors. It looks quite glossy without any materials added to it. The fabric is strong, flexible, and shiny, independent of how the manufacturers spin the fibers.   

It is amazing when it comes to temperature regulation, given that it’s a very breathable fabric. As the cocoon helps the moth regulate temperature during its transformation, it also makes for a textile that helps in wicking moisture away or keeping warmth in your body.

The cons.  

There are only two disadvantages when it comes to Mulberry silk. The first one is that its production entails what many consider an ethical dilemma, given that moths may die or get harmed depending on the method used. The other one is related to the expense. Producing Mulberry silk is quite costly due to the fact that it takes a considerable number of cocoons to make a pound of silk, and the system to unspool the cocoons is quite laborious.

The uses of Mulberry silk.

The most common type of silk in the market is mulberry silk, so you can find it in a lot of different textile products. 

Mulberry silk in bodywear.  

Given its price, when it comes to garments it is more commonly found in formal wear. It’s so special you usually find wedding dresses or black-tie attire and it is not uncommon to find it in the linings of jackets and coats.

Mulberry silk in home design

Another interesting use of Mulberry silk is in home decorating and upholstery. As we’ve explained, it is a very durable fabric so furniture is an appropriate and luxurious destination for it. Especially when you take into consideration how shiny and easy to dye it is, it makes for a diverse collection of colors and designs.

Mulberry silk bedding

Another use for it is in deluxe bedding products. It’s fantastically smooth and feels fantastic on the skin. Its hypoallergenic properties, combined with its amazing softness ensure a good night's sleep, so it's a very popular choice for pillowcases. You can't do better than mulberry silk pillowcases. Take a look at Mellanni’s Mulberry Silk Pillowcase if you feel like experiencing these benefits for yourself. Their mulberry silk pillowcase will help keep your skin healthy and will protect your hair from frizziness and breakage. 

  If you are not feeling the silk, Mellanni also offers a vast collection of bed pillows and pillowcases, so be sure to check them out!

To conclude

Mulberry silk is a fantastic, luxurious choice for over a millennium. Its beauty, smoothness, and strength make for a fantastic ally when it comes to textiles. All the natural benefits that cocoons provide for the moths make for a magnificent fabric that benefits our various needs.

So the next time you feel like treating yourself to the finest of fabrics, take the opportunity to experience mulberry silk, you won't be disappointed.

We hope this guide has been helpful in guiding you through the wonders of silk and the Mulberry silk variant!

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