Unless you have worked closely with the fabric before, the difference between satin and sateen can be murky for anyone shopping for bed sheets. Do you remember a time when this happened to you? In our early days at SewingWithEase, many of us were surprised by how similar the fabrics felt and looked. If you plan to use either of them, you should understand the differences between these two, particularly in terms of durability and upkeep.
Let’s take a look at two very similar fabrics separated by less than a few letters while you’re lying comfortably in satin pajamas and sateen sheets.
First of all, remember that “satin” and “sateen” refer to the weave of the fabric, not the fiber. As opposed to the traditional one over, one under weaving pattern, both fabrics share a unique weaving pattern of four threads over and one thread under. It gives the fabric its trademark luxurious and elegant softness and shines by maximizing the visible threads on its top side. The fabric’s other side is also dull, indicating a definitive “right side.”
Satin and Sateen
We find two fabrics both alike in dignity. Both fabrics have distinctive features, but their similarities also confuse them.
“Satin” and “sateen” refer to the finished product, not the fabric; they are the results of weaving the fibers together. Unlike the traditional one over, one under pattern you might be used to, both fabrics share a unique weave pattern with four threads over and one thread under. There is a float or missing interface when four threads are crossed over one thread. In addition to giving the fabric a luxurious and elegant softness and shine, this floating effect maximizes the visible threads on the surface. Satin and sateen also have a dull appearance on the reverse side, establishing a distinct “right side.”
With so many similarities on the surface, what exactly sets them apart? Our next step is to examine the fabrics separately in order to find out how they differ.
What Is Satin?
Satin is a fabric whose name dates back to the 12th century. Quanzhou, China, was a major port city during the Middle Ages, trading in satin. The fabric of the city was called Zayton by Arab merchants who frequented the city. In English, “zayton” became satin, and the rest is history… in a sense.
Besides being a fabric type, satin is also a weave pattern. As a matter of fact, it’s the same weave pattern used in satin and sateen. In spite of their luxurious softness and shine, satin and sateen are distinguished by the fibers they use.
What Is Satin Made Of?
Polyester, nylon, and silk are filament fibers used to make satin. Silk has traditionally been the only material used to make satin, and some purists still follow this belief today. Satin is now made from nylon or polyester as well as silk for durability, maximum shine, and cost-effectiveness – often a blend of the three. The fabric is very much like silk, except that it is made of synthetic fibers rather than natural silk.
What Is Sateen Made Of?
What is the composition of sateen if satin is defined by the fibers it contains? The fibers used in satin are filaments, while the yarns used in sateen are short-staple. The yarns used for sateen include cotton and rayon, which are short-staple spun. While still made of spun yarns, sateen can maintain a silk-like softness and shine due to the satin weaving process. To create the characteristic “silkiness,” cotton or rayon is usually carded, combed, or mercerized.
Satin vs. Sateen: Which is Best?
Depending on the nature of your project, one might serve the purpose better than the other. All kinds of garments are made out of satin – from baseball jackets to lingerie! Those dreamy pink pointe shoes will be covered in satin if you have any aspiring ballerinas in your circle. As well as fine furniture upholstery, it is ideal for delicate fabrics. There is nothing more elegant and luxurious than satin.
As you might guess, sateen (which is made from cotton) is a more durable and tough material. You might want to choose this method if your sewing project requires a little more wear and tear. The reason why bedding and draperies are frequently made from it is because of its durability.
Sateen is machine washable, which makes it easier to maintain than cotton. Depending on the fiber blend, satin may be machine washable, but it is usually dry-cleaned or hand-washed.
In addition, consider any color changes you might want to make to the fabric. A great deal of consistency can be achieved with bleaching, dyeing, or printing sateen. Some satin can be dyed, but the process is more laborious and will depend on the blend.
So there you have it. If you end up using fabric for your project, make sure the fabric is labeled with the care instructions so its new owners can enjoy it the same way you have.