How Silk is Made? Completely Process the Mulberry Silk

how silk is made art and culture of Thai fabric

Thai sericulture is the production process of Thai silk fabric. To understand how silk is made better that you need to know the complete steps of Thai sericulture that we will describe in this article.

Isaan or the Northeast of Thailand is the origin of Thai sericulture. The tiny local villagers in Isaan perform sericulture as their secondary occupation. Actually, small farmers’ families in rural areas whose primary occupation is rice cultivation produce the majority amount of raw silk. Not only do rice farms, but they also do the complete entire process of Thai sericulture by raising silkworms, producing raw filaments, making their own yarns and threads, and designing the unique pattern until weaving fabric.
In the past, the villages produced yarns and fabrics for their own use. At present, they do sericulture for commercial purposes and occupation.
The high-quality silk fabric primarily comes from 2 factors.
  • First, proper sericulture practices and careful maintenance are what give silk yarn its high quality.
  • Second, a skilled weaver is important for the quality of silk.

Without a doubt, if a weaver lacks the ability to use good and appropriate silk yarns, they will never produce high-quality silk fabric.

Types of Thai Fabric

Silk threads from Thai sericulture can be woven into many types of Thai fabric. It depends on the individual techniques of weaving in each area to create their own textile pattern differently.
MUJIL handbags are primarily made from Mudmee and Praewa fabric. For more details, I wrote a blog post entitled about the story of Mudmee fabric and an interesting about Praewa fabric as a companion piece for this article.
Mudmee Fabric Praewa Fabric

How Silk is Made

The process to produce silk is called sericulture which describes the raising and caring of silkworms to create silk filaments from their cocoons. The introduction video below describes a brief Thai sericulture process, and how silk is made, which involved raising silkworms, producing yarn, and extending beyond just using the threads to make clothing. Please enjoy the excellent introduction film created by the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.

Watch this video on YouTube

The Mulberry Silkworm

There are various types of silkworms around the world such as Tasar, Eri, Muga, Fagara, Coan, and even spider mussel silk create different types of silk. By the way, the finest quality and most plentiful silk is created from the Bombyx Mori silk.

The Bombyx Mori silk refers to the Mulberry Silk because the Bombyx Mori only dines on the leaves of the mulberry tree. Almost 100% of the Mulberry Silk production is in Thailand so growing mulberry is a part of Thai sericulture.

It is significant to note that good mulberry effect healthy cocoons. As mulberry is the exclusive food for Bombyx Mori, it only consumes fresh mulberry leaves. So, Thai villages usually take attention to growing mulberry by themselves to feed their silkworms with mulberry leaves. Because the quality of mulberry leaves that silkworms eat, directly reflects the quality of silk cocoons.

Life of a Silkworm

At the laying time, female silk starts laying its egg about 300-500 eggs. Then, it takes about 9-10 days for eggs to hatch into silkworms. After that, the villages will transfer the tiny silkworms into wicker baskets and feed them with fresh mulberry leaves frequency 4-6 times a day for 20-30 days. Where the silkworm’s body weight will increase almost 10,000 times from their first hatched.
The mature silkworm will start spinning its cocoon. Just add some mulberry twigs to make its warm habitat so the silkworm will feel at home and get ready to work and completely do its cocoons within 3 days.
In the harvest phase, the reeled silk filaments from the cocoons are then used to recover the deceased pupae. Thai people enjoy eating them as a snack. Additionally, they are components of fertilizer, cosmetics, and animal feed.
mulberry silkworm
yellow cocoons silk worm
yellow silk cocoons in basket

Making Yarns Process

Once harvesting the cocoons, Thai villages produce silk yarns manually by heating them and then reeling their filaments with reeling wheels.

The reeling process starts with putting cocoons in a pot of hot water to loosen the gummy substance, called serecin, that holds the cocoon’s filament together. Then, the thread will start to loosen and separate in the hot water. After that, the craftsman will brush to gather the loose silk fibers from 6–20 cocoons into a single, strong thread that is about the same width as human hair. If a filament breaks while being reeled, the weaver swiftly twists the ends back together and resumes reeling.

The natural yellow filaments from cocoons are very silky and shiny. We take 6-20 filaments to make a single thread. In addition, we take 2-6 threads to make silk yarn for quality weaving fabric. For strength and integrity, the maker usually twists the thread harder and strong enough for the loom. By the way, please note that excessive twisting dulls its brightness. The best yarns are sometimes made by doubling and weaving together between 2 and 6 different threads.

Dyeing Threads

This dying process is mainly to create a unique pattern of Thai fabric. Unless they can sell undyed yarns. The weaver will eventually dye fabric not only natural color but also synthetic color. Specific techniques such as dye tie or Mudmee create a sleek, and beautiful pattern of Thai textiles. This dying step is an individual technique for the weaver that needs high experience and imagination to generate the unique style and color of the fabric. Likewise, an artist created their own artwork.

pink dyed thread
silk filaments tie


This article tells you about how silk is made. To further appreciate woven Thai fabric, you need to know an overview of sericulture, raw silk, and the yarn-making process as above. Exactly small rural village in Isaan, the northeast of Thailand usually produces its own textile. Moreover, they also cultivate high-quality mulberry trees that are directly related to the quality of silk cocoons. Which can be created with premium and unique fabrics like Mudmee fabric and Praewa fabric. To discover more Thai silk fabric Mudmee unique heritage art civilization of Thailand about the Mudmee fabric and Textile fabric art of Praewa silk the queen of Thai-crafted textiles story about Praewa fabric.

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