Satin is a weave that typically has a glossy surface and a dull back, one of three fundamental types of textile weaves along with plain weave and twill. The satin weave is characterized by four or more fill or weft yarns floating over a warp yarn, four warp yarns floating over a single weft yarn. Floats are missed interfacings, for example where the warp yarn lies on top of the weft in a warp-faced satin. These floats explain the high luster and even sheen, as unlike in other weaves, the light reflecting is not scattered as much by the fibres. Satin is usually a warp-faced weaving technique in which warp yarns are "floated" over weft yarns, although there are also weft-faced satins.[1] If a fabric is formed with a satin weave using filament fibres such as silk, polyester or nylon, the corresponding fabric is termed a satin, although some definitions insist that the fabric be made from silk.[2] If the yarns used are short-staple yarns such as cotton, the fabric formed is considered a sateen.

Many variations can be made of the basic satin weave, including a granite weave and a check weave.

Satin is commonly used in apparel: women's lingerie, nightgowns, blouses, and evening gowns, but also in boxer shorts, shirts and neckties. It is also used in the production of pointe shoes for use in ballet. Other uses include interior furnishing fabrics, upholstery, and bed sheets.


Originally, during the Middle Ages, satin was made of silk; consequently it was very expensive, used only by the upper classes. Satin became famous in Europe during the twelfth century. The name derives its origin from the Chinese port city of Quanzhou, whose name in (medieval) Arabic was Zayton.[3] During the latter part of the Middle Ages, it was a major shipping port of silk, using the maritime Silk Road to reach Europe. It was mostly used in the Arabian countries.

Types of satin weaves

Fabrics created from satin weaves are more flexible, with better draping characteristics than plain weaves, allowing them to be formed around compound curves, which is useful in carbon-fiber composites manufacturing. In a satin weave, the fill yarn passes over multiple warp yarns before interlacing under one warp yarn. Common satin weaves are:[4]

  • 4-harness satin weave (4HS), also called crowfoot satin, in which the fill yarn passes over three warp yarns and under one warp yarn. It is more pliable than a plain weave.
  • 5-harness satin weave (5HS); the fill yarn passes over four warp yarns and then under one warp yarn.
  • 8-harness satin weave (8HS), in which the fill yarn passes over seven warp yarns and then under one warp yarn, is the most pliable satin weave and forms most easily around compound curves.

Types of satin

  • Antique satin is a type of satin-back shantung, woven with slubbed or unevenly spun weft yarns.[5][6]
  • Baronet or baronette has a cotton back and a rayon or silk front, similar to georgette.[7]
  • Charmeuse is a lightweight, draping satin-weave fabric with a dull reverse.[8]
  • Double face(d) satin is woven with a glossy surface on both sides. It is possible for both sides to have a different pattern, albeit using the same colors.[9]
  • Duchess(e) satin is a particularly luxurious, heavy, stiff satin.[9]
  • Faconne is jacquard woven satin.[10]
  • Farmer's satin or Venetian cloth is made from mercerised cotton.[10]
  • Gattar is satin made with a silk warp and a cotton weft.[11]
  • Messaline is lightweight and loosely woven.[12]
  • Polysatin or poly-satin is an abbreviated term for polyester satin.
  • Slipper satin is stiff and medium- to heavy-weight fabric.[13]
  • Sultan is a worsted fabric with a satin face.[10]
  • Surf satin was a 1910s American trademark for a taffeta fabric used for swimsuits.[14]



  1. Emery, Irene (1994). The Primary Structures of Fabrics. Washington, D. C. Thames and Hudson. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-500-28802-3.
  2. Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, 1977.
  3. Tellier, Luc-Normand (2009). Urban world history: an economic and geographical perspective. Presses de l'Université du Québec. p. 221. ISBN 978-2-7605-1588-8. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  4. "Woven fabric style guide". ACP Composites.
  5. Young, Deborah (2015). Swatch Reference Guide to Fashion Fabrics. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 1628926562. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  6. Rowe, T. (2009). Interior Textiles: Design and Developments. Elsevier. p. 69. ISBN 1845696875. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  7. Cumming, Valerie; Cunnington, C.W.; Cunnington, P.E. (2010). The dictionary of fashion history. Oxford: Berg. p. 231. ISBN 1847887384.
  8. Shaeffer 2003, p. 123.
  9. Shaeffer 2003, p. 124.
  10. Lewandowski, Elizabeth J. (2011). The complete costume dictionary. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 309. ISBN 9780810877856.
  11. Maitra, K.K. (2007). Encyclopaedic dictionary of clothing and textiles. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 185. ISBN 9788183242059.
  12. Shaeffer 2003, p. 128.
  13. Shaeffer 2008, p. 238.
  14. Shaeffer 2003, p. 282.


  • Media related to Satin at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of satin at Wiktionary
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