Weaving with silk

This month, we shine a spotlight on handwoven silk textiles with our May promotion, which features a new collection of silk scarves and specially designed bags.

While the Karen traditionally use cotton in their weaving, Thailand has a rich history of silk textiles and is also known globabally for its production of fine silk thread.  At Sop Moei Arts, we use silk for accents in our wall hangings, as well as our scarves, which are woven of 100% Thai silk and have been a customer favourite for the past twenty years.  

For this exclusive collection, we started by weaving thirteen silk scarves, all in different colours.  When the scarves were finished, we continued working on the same looms to create thirteen new silk textiles for bags - each textile designed specifically to match just one scarf.  Here, we would like to share our design process, from silk thread to finished product.



Setting up a scarf warp

A successful colourway is one which works with a variety of different weft colours.  For this collection we set up two different scarf warps; one multi-colour and one with a gradation of colours.  The multi-colour warp is composed of several colours, including turquoise, gold and red, which creates the effect of colour highlights in the scarf.  The gradation warp is composed of  turquoise and brown, which allows for a more subtle blending of colours in the scarf.  All warp threads used are 100% Thai silk.


(Setting up a gradation warp and a multi-colour warp)


Choosing the weft

We select our weft colours for the scarves to complement the warp, and since the weft uses at least twice as many strands of silk as the warp in the weaving process, the weft colours will dominate.  The warp colours will "peek through" here and there, offering interesting contrasts.  The result is a luxurious, light-weight scarf. 

Creating silk textiles for the bags, however, was more of a challenge.  We needed to weave textiles that are much more durable, while at the same time capturing the play of colours running through the scarves.  To achieve this, we combined a blend of silks for the weft.  Here are some examples of silks we used:

Thai silk - fine strands of silk made from the inner part of the silk cocoon.

Kibiso silk - silk drawn from the outer layer of the silk cocoon, giving great body and texture to the textiles that are woven with it.

Boucle silk - the different shrinkage properties of several silk threads is used to create a yarn resulting in a beautiful looped, or bubbly appearance when woven.

Sari silk - created from recycled, hand-spun raw silk left over from the sari making process, resulting in a colourful yarn.

The combination of threads are carefully wound onto a bamboo stick to ensure an even tension, and then used in place of a shuttle during weaving.  For the textiles in this collection, we used between five and seven strands of silk, blended together.  This process significantly increases both the preparation and weaving time, and requires a skilled and patient weaver!


(Combining threads and weaving with multiple threads)


From textile to bag

While the silk scarves are finished once they come off the loom and the fringes are tied, the bags require more design work and assembly.

For some bags, we wove separate, decorative bands of fabric, on a different loom, featuring our "Naga" fabric.

The finished bags are made with soft cow-hide leather, with an adjustable and removable strap and decorative leather tassel.  For this collection, we adjusted the size of the bag to suit the textile and pattern details.


(Matching leather samples and "Naga" pattern detail)


May Promotion

Our May promotion runs from May 5th - 18th.  During this time we are offering customers a 10% discount on this exclusive collection, available in our web-shop and the Chiang Mai shop.  Each bag is unique.  You can browse the collection here


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