Is it silk or is it wool?

We’re having delightful autumn weather here in Adelaide. Warm sunny days without the sting of summer heat. Just right for the last of the summer dresses I’ve been constructing.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 03-2009-107

Size: 36- 44, I made a 42 with some alterations (no pockets, walking vent at back, 15 mm sway back, darts at back neck as described when I’ve made this pattern before. I smoothed out the neck darts at the centreback seam a bit more this time).

The fit is not bad, although there is still a little bit more ease through the waist and hips than I really like, but I might wear this dress in winter with a long sleeve top underneath and tights or leggings, so I’m going to leave it like it is.

Fabric: This is where the title comes in. I bought this fabric in a tiny shop full of offcuts in Italy. The messy handwritten label on it looked like it said ‘lana’. I don’t speak Italian and the older lady in this shop certainly didn’t speak English or French. (I don’t really speak French either, but I know a few words)

The fabric doesn’t look or feel like wool.

I washed it and it smelt like wet wool. It smells like wool when pressed and takes a crease beautifully. It also smelt like burning hair when I burnt it. So it’s either silk or wool, right? Or perhaps cotton. But its hard to mistake ‘cotone’ for ‘lana’, even with messy old fashioned cursive. And ‘seta’ looks nothing like ‘lana’.

The weave is interesting with shiny blue weft threads and finer black warp threads. The parts in between the paisley motifs are quite open. I underlined the dress with a pale blue cotton voile to cut done on some of the sheerness and give the fabric and the seams a bit more stability

I choose cotton rather than acetate or polyester for the underlining so I could wear this dress when its really hot. I was aware that the dress might still be a bit sheer (and it is, as you can see here looking through the front with the light behind, and no, those hairy arms do not belong to me).

The sheerness doesn’t seem to be an issue when I’m wearing it (and how many full length windows am I going to stand in front of?). I can always wear a slip…

And the other reason I made this dress now (apart from the appropriate weather we’re having right now to wear it)?

I bought a lovely jacket in the post Christmas sales* and it didn’t go with anything in my wardrobe. So I had to make something it would work with.

Very appropriately, the jacket is an Australian label, made in Australia from Italian fabric.


*Is it a bargain if you don’t need it/it doesn’t work with anything else in your wardrobe??

16 thoughts on “Is it silk or is it wool?

  1. Super fabric!!! Super dress!!! Super match with the ‘bargain’!!!! The little jacket now falls into the bargain category as it has a partner in the wardrobe…

  2. The simple lines of the dress really highlight the beautiful color and jacquard of the fabric. It is lovely. The fabric description sounds like wool. One other test I know of is putting a scrap in straight chlorine bleach. If I remember the test correctly, wool disolves in bleach after a few days, silk doesn’t.

  3. I really like this fabric and the dress. The colour is great on you. I thought lana was wool, but I’m not sure how I got that idea in my head! Whatever it is, it’s made a really lovely dress.

  4. What a lovely dress, and it’s perfect with your little jacket! I am a terrible sucker for Veronika Maine – I now try to avoid going near their shops!

    Laine is wool in French, so I’m pretty sure Lana means wool in Italian.

  5. What a beautiful dress! I really like that fabric – and the pattern! The little cap sleeves and the neckline really caught my eye, and you’ve nailed the fit!

  6. How intriguing – I wonder if you’ll do the beach test Audrey suggested. Let us know what happens if you do, please.

    Lovely dress and the colour is perfect for the jacket. :o))

  7. Lana is Italian for wool I believe, not because I speak Italian but I have seen it written and interpreted elsewhere. And, if your fabric smells a bit like a woolly wet sheep with less of a lanolin smell when wet you’re looking at it being wool. Also if you wash silk it has almost a slippery feel but wool doesn’t feel like that when wet.
    I love your dress, that’s a great colour on you and I love it with the jacket!

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