Satin draws its luxurious connotations from two sources. The first is its historical association with silk, an expensive natural fibre. Satin was originally made using silk. The second is satin's intrinsically luxurious look and feel, which arises from the smooth, glossy character of the cloth. Therefore, even satin ribbon made from an inexpensive fibre such as polyester, can look and feel as though it were more costly.
This characteristic lustrous appeal of satin explains its desirability for use in dressmaking, and other decorative purposes such as ribbon making. However, just as how all that glitters is not necessarily gold, so satin comes in varying levels of quality, and before taking the plunge and buying any substantial amount of satin, in any form, it is important to be aware of the differences between the different types of stain ribbon. The buyer should know how tell the difference between satin made from silk and satin made from synthetic fibres. Beside the costs, there are benefits and limitations unique to each type of stain ribbon.
As with all items that are inherently appealing, it is important to avoid paying over the odds when the time comes to buying satin ribbon. This means knowing the best places to buy satin ribbon. For instance, eBay sells a large range of satin ribbons of all colours and widths.
The Essential Characteristics of Satin
Satin was originally a rare cloth made from silk yarn. Even though satin is more widespread today, the best quality satin and most expensive satin continues to be made from silk. However, satin ribbons are rarely made from silk. Ribbons are essentially decorative, being used as small adornments on items such as dresses, bags, or shoes. Therefore, most cannot justify the use of such an expensive yarn for mere adornment. In place of silk, most modern satin is made from synthetic fibres such as polyester or rayon. These synthetic fibres do share many of the tactile and visual qualities of silk, but synthetic satin is much cheaper to produce than satin made from silk.
Since it is not simply a question of the type of yarn used, it is apparent that the essence of satin must be in the weaving. In fact, the process used to create satin has given its name to one of the three major types of weave used to create fabric, namely the 'satin weave'.
Unlike ordinary fabric, in which the amount of warp and weft is even, a satin weave uses a much more of the warp fibres, or else much more of weft fibres, to create the fabric.'Warp' and 'weft' are simply the terms given to describe the up-down direction and the left-right direction of the fibres in a piece of cloth. The essence of satin is the ratio between warp and weft. Satin weave uses at least four, and possibly as many as sixteen warp fibres, for each weft fibre in the fabric. This means that with a satin weave, there are up to sixteen warp fibres for every weft fibre.
Satin's Distinctive Sheen
The ratio described above ensures that when someone looks at a piece of satin, they are mostly seeing one type of fibre, either warp or weft. As most of the fibres are therefore pointing the same way, there is no criss-cross pattern visible on the surface of the fabric. This means that the light falls evenly on the fibres, and is therefore reflected evenly. It is this even even reflection of light that accounts for satin's distinctive 'shininess', or sheen.
Logically, in light of the above explanation, double satin ought not to exist. This is because to have a shiny front, satin needs to have a higher proportion of the warp fibres visible to the observer, with the underside appearing to be quite dull. Double satin does exist, however, and it does exist because skilled weaving allows two sets of warp strands to be incorporated into the fabric, allowing a shiny surface on both sides.
The Fibres Used to Make Satin Ribbon
It has already been noted that satin was traditionally made of silk, but today's satin fabrics are made using a variety of other fibres, including polyester and rayon, as mentioned already, and natural fibre like cotton. The table below compares these fibres, and describes their principal characteristics.
Very strong natural filament fibre spun from silk moth cocoons
Strong, although less so than silk synthetic filament fibre that is often mistaken for silk
Made from cellulose, yet classified as synthetic; a filament fibre, and has a high degree of lustre, popular alternative to silk
Long staple rather than a filament fibre; cotton reflects light differently compared to other fibres
It may have come as a surprise to see cotton included in this table, but in fact cotton is frequently used to produce a satin weave fabric, called sateen.
Sateen is similar to satin in most respects, except that because cotton is inherently different in its makeup, its fibres do not reflect light in quite the same way as the other materials. Cotton is a long staple fibre, whereas silk, polyester and rayon are filament fibres, which are structurally different. Sateen has a sheen, but it is less even and intense, and sateen is therefore not generally used to manufacture satin ribbon.
Organza is a fabric with some superficial similarities to satin, in that it is also traditionally made from silk, is considered luxurious, and is also used for making ribbon. Like satin, organza can now be made of synthetic fibres, such as viscose. Organza is actually an extremely sheer plain weave fabric, and rather than a satin sheen, it has a characteristically rough texture. Due to its fineness and luxurious look, however, it can be a competitor for satin when choosing ribbon.
Considerations When Buying Satin Ribbon
With so many uses, ranging from wrapping gifts to making dresses, there is a variety of ribbons available. There are shoe ribbons and hair ribbons, and decorative bows. Satin ribbon is a popular accent used in clothing and decoration. Satin ribbon's popularity ensures that a wide range of choices exist in terms of the colours, the width of the ribbon, and the type of satin. It is not unusual to find 15 to 20 different shades of satin ribbon for sale, and perhaps as many as half a dozen different widths. These may start at a narrow 3 mm and extend up to 5, cm or more.
When buying satin ribbon therefore, the key consideration is the purpose of the satin ribbon. This factor determines the size, length and composition of the ribbon required. Another key factor, especially if the buyer is looking to purchase a substantial quantity, is where to buy the satin ribbon.
The important factors here are likely to be the range of choice available, together with the price. On both of these counts, it is unlikely that a high street store can prove the most advantageous place to buy satin ribbon. High overheads and the exorbitant cost of giving floorspace to merchandise inevitably raises the price of the ribbon, and decrease the choice available. Fortunately, satin ribbon is widely available online, where Internet markets such as eBay offer a vast selection of colours and sizes, generally at much more competitive prices than the high street.
Looking for Satin Ribbon on eBay
Finding satin ribbon on eBay is very simple. First, enter a search phrase such as 'satin ribbon' into the search bar on the eBay home page. This action brings up many thousands of listings for satin ribbon products currently on offer on eBay. Rather than browsing through thousands of listings, you may want to narrow these listings down, based on the features that interest you.
On the results page are various search filters. You can sort the listings based on the width of the ribbon, the ribbon's colour, and other characteristics, such as the length of the satin ribbon, which is specified in either yards or metres.You may also specify the brand of ribbon, if you have a preference, and whether the ribbon should be single sided satin or double sided satin.
Once you have a handful of listings that interest you, look through them carefully, making sure to study the photos and read the descriptions thoroughly. Consider whether the seller is willing to take the ribbon back if, for example, the shade is not ideal. Remember that colour displays differently on different computer monitors and laptop screens. There is also the matter of postage to consider. Is it included in the price? If you want to ask any questions, contact the seller via the contact link on their membership profile. This page also includes feedback from previous buyers, too.
Satin is a lustrous, shiny cloth traditionally made from silk. Its visual appeal and its association with silk has given satin its luxurious image, which has survived the transition to less costly fibres such as polyester. Satin obtains its glossy surface from the characteristic 'satin weave' process used to make satin fabric.
Satin is often used to make decorative ribbons for clothing and accessories like hats. These ribbons come in a very wide range of attractive colours and widths that range from just 3 mm to 5 cm. Satin ribbons are popular for wrapping gifts, as well as for dressmaking and other uses where an attractive decorative accent is required. Satin ribbon is comparatively expensive to buy in the high street, due to the overheads involved in maintaining a variety of ribbons in a high street sewing store. A significant quantity of satin ribbon can be purchased for much less on the Internet, where eBay boasts thousands of listings for satin ribbons made from a variety of fabrics.