Satin is not only a type of fabric, but it’s also a weave pattern. In fact, it’s the name of the weave pattern shared by both satin and sateen. While satin and sateen share that luxurious softness and shine, their distinction is due to the use of different fibers. Satin uses filament fibers, such as silk, nylon, or polyester. Historically, satin was strictly made from silk, and some purists still believe that true satin can only be made of silk. For durability, maximum shine, and cost-effectiveness, however, satin is now also made from nylon or polyester – frequently a blend of all three. While satin made from synthetic fibers tends not to breathe as easily as natural silk, the effect of the fabric is very much the same.
The name satin has its origins in the 12th century. During the Middle Ages, Quanzhou, China was a major port city trading in what we call satin. Arab merchants frequented the city, calling it Zayton, and began calling the fabric of the city by the same name. Eventually, “zayton” evolved into satin in English, and the rest is history… literally.