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Silk Habotai


Silk habotai is a soft, lightweight, plain-weave silk fabric made in Japan. It is similar to China silk, but slightly heavier.

Silk habotai is a lightweight fabric with a smooth, even weave and a lustrous finish. Slight texturing on the surface comes from imperfections in the slightly twisted raw silk yarns from which the fabric is woven. The raw filaments are coated with sericin gum as they are produced by the silk-worm larvae. The gum is removed from the yarns by boiling the fabric. The weight of the finished fabric is typically 8 mm, but may be found in 10 mm. Habotai is naturally ecru in color but takes dye readily and is available in a range of other hues.

Because it is thin and lightweight, habotai is used primarily for lining. Its breathability and softness make it comfortable to wear.

Production methods have changed over the ages. Traditional hand looms have given way to factory looms, and the woven fabric is now piece-dyed by a commercial process. But habotai is still the plain-weave, lightweight, opaque fabric originally used as lining in kimonos. Today it is woven in Japan, Korea, and China.

Use silk habotai for linings. It is also popular for silk painting.

The word habotai in Japanese means "soft as down," or "light feather." It is also spelled habutai.


Cut habotai using the with-nap layout, as the surface may read differently in opposite directions.

Use fine pins or pattern weights when laying out the pattern. Since habotai snags easily, use new pins.

French seams add structure to the garment and provide a durable finish.

Micro-serrated shears or a rotary cutter with a new blade will help you cut accurately.

Sew with a 65/9 or 70/10 microtex needle in your machine.

Use a straight stitch needle and needle plate to keep the fabric from being pulled into the needle hole.

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