Bombyx Mori silk moth
Bombyx Mori silk moth, drawn in pencil by Ozgur Babacan. Copyright Ozgur Babacan 2015

Silk is a fibre which comes from the cocoons of silkworms, which are the larvae of the mulberry silk moth Bombyx mori. These fibres can be woven together to form fabrics.

Silk is a natural fabric because the fibres come from living things. Can you think of any more examples of natural fabrics? (Wool, cotton etc.).

Other fabrics are made from synthetic fibres, which are made in factories, using chemicals. Can you think of any examples of synthetic fabrics? (Nylon, polyester etc.).

Activity: As a group, discuss how different fabrics have different properties, using examples such as silk, wool, leather etc.

Get a range of different fabrics or ask children to bring in examples.  As a group, look at and discuss the fabrics.

What properties does silk have?

Examples: shiny, absorbent, warm, lightweight, strong, elastic, easy to dye. 

The Huguenots were expert silk weavers and made beautiful dresses, ribbons and trimmings. How are the properties of silk useful for this purpose?

How do the properties of silk compare with those of other fabrics used to make clothing? For example, wool, leather, nylon etc.

Sort the fabrics into groups, depending on their different properties. (e.g. absorbency, warmth, elasticity etc.).

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