Updated on September 27, 2022 by Sarina

what is satin

The sound of satin brings to mind glossiness, luxury, and softness. There is no end to beautiful things being made and sewn with satin – wedding dresses come foremost to my mind, not to say luxury lingerie.

What is a satin fabric ?

Satin is a soft fabric made with fibers of silk, cotton, wool and even synthetic materials like polyester and acetate, woven in a particular fabric weave (satin weave) which creates the silky smooth texture.

I always thought of satin as a certain fabric type just like cotton and silk. Now I know it is not just that.

Many people confuse silk with satin. Silk is a natural product but Satin is not. Another frequent mistake people make is thinking of satin as a fabric type alone.

Satin refers to the weave, which makes the fabric, that is also known as satin.

Many fabrics made of satin weave may not be satin. Examples are Sateen – This is a cotton fabric woven in satin weave; Venetian cloth – This is a woolen cloth made in satin weave

There is silk satin with all the softness that satin weave entails but not all silks are soft.

Once upon a time, the satin fabric was made only with silk fibers but not anymore. Addition of synthetic fibers like nylon has made satin affordable to people like me.

Basically speaking, it gets its glossiness from its weave rather than the fibers. The weave of satin with minimum interlacing between fibers creates the famous smoothness and glossiness.

What are the different types of satin fabric?

Satin is available in many weights, as well as qualities. Many different types of satin are available in shops – with some glaring and some subtle differences.

Antique satin 

A heavy dull lustrous satin fabric; this fabric is woven with uneven (slubbed) yarns resulting in a textured finish.

Baronet satin

Very smooth satin found in many bright colours. It is very lustrous. It has Rayon yarn in the weave.

Canton satin 

Soft heavy Satin with a ribbed texture (crepe finish) in the back.


A lightweight satin which drapes very well; it is very clingy and has an attractive luster on the surface (but dull on the backside) 

Duchess satin

A heavy stiff satin with not much shine. It is used in making bridal wear.

Crepe back satin

One side satin and one side crepe so can be used with either side.

Hammered satin 

A textured satin


 A lightweight satin

Panne satin

 A stiff satin which is very glossy

Ribbed satin
Slipper satin

A lightweight Satin with a cotton back

Panne satin 

Fabric with super luster.

Characteristics of Satin

The most important characteristic of satin is its ultra smoothness. The fabric has a dull back.

Satin is a luxurious looking fabric. Many evening gowns and wedding gowns are made in satin because of its glossy looks. It can look more expensive than it is, because of the smooth silky looks.

Problems inherent in most satin


Generally satin is drapey but Not all satin fabric is drapable. There is very stiff satin as well so when buying fabric online check the drapability of the particular satin you are buying. The smoothness also may differ. If you are making a dress get a swatch and compare smoothness and drape before buying.

Water staining is a characteristic of satin cloth. Hence if you use the fabric to sew dresses in summer you should be prepared  for some staining where you sweat

The fabric cut edges frays a lot.

Satin is not your everyday fabric. If you want a hardwearing fabric you had better settle for cotton. If you want to sew clothes with Satin you had better take care of it the right way. Most satin clothes come with the label – Dryclean only. If there are designs embossed on satin these designs may fade with constant wear.

One problem many faces with satin is the appearance of water spots. Do not use water spays when ironing satin. It is always better to press satin from the wrong side.

The surface is prone to snagging so it is difficult to maintain the soft smooth surface of satin – so you can say it is high maintenance.

Some inexpensive satin may have fragmented and small fibers on the surface which look unsightly, especially after a wash. Handwashing the satin clothes inside out may prevent this from happening. Abrasion with other clothes in the washing machine can change the smooth texture of the fabric. (Checkout the post on proper handwashing of clothes)

Another problem involves cheap quality satin fabrics. They fray like mad, and come apart at the seams. Most needles make big holes on these weakly woven fabrics. This can come open any time with the slightest tension.

Related posts : Silk vs satin.; Names of silk fabrics ; How to sew satin fabric


Best satin fabric for wedding gowns?

Duchess satin is a popular wedding gown material due to a number of reasons. Duchess satin is a thicker satin than any other satin fabrics. This makes it hold its shape unlike other materials which might be floppy. But at the same time it is drapey. It has a special luxurious gloss. Due to its higher thread count and elegant looks it is considered as a premium wedding gown material.

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