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What is Momme in silk fabric & What is thread count?

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Silk Momme? What is that?

I wondered too when I first delved into the world of silk. Silk Momme weight is a way of measuring things developed by the Japanese.

Silk Momme weight is a standard way of measuring the weight of silk as well as a common way to measure pearls.Silk Momme is pronounced much like the word “mummy.”

Momme (mm), traditionally used to measure silk fabrics, the weight in pounds of a piece of fabric if it were sized 45 inches by 100 yards. One Momme = 4.340 grams per square meter; 8 Momme is approximately 1 ounce per square yard or 35 grams per square meter.

The Momme is based on the standard width of silk of 45 inches wide (though silk is regularly produced in 55-inch widths, and, uncommonly, in even larger widths).

The usual range of Momme weight for different weaves of silk are:

  • Charmeuse - 12 to 30 mm
  • Habutai - 5 to 16 mm
  • Crepe de Chine - 12 to 23 mm
  • Georgette - 8 to 12 mm
  • Chiffon - 6 to 8 mm (can be made in double thickness, i.e. 12 to 16 mm)
  • Organza - 4 to 14 mm
  • Organza Satin - 12 to 15 mm
  • Stretch Silk Satin - 16 to 19 mm
  • Silk Wool Blend - 30 and 40 mm
  • Silk Linen Blend - 12 to 35 mm
  • Silk Cotton Blend - 9 mm
  • Gambiered Canton Gauze (Watered Gauze) - 16 to 50 mm
  • Raw Silk - 35 to 40 mm (heavier silks appear more 'wooly')
  • Gauze - 3 to 5 mm

Why is thread count not used when talking about silk?

Silk is an incredibly fine thread to begin with, and thread counts would be extremely high, regardless of the quality of the silk. So for example, a low-quality silk may have a similarly high thread count to a high-quality silk. For this reason, silk uses an alternative system to measure quality, called Momme weight.

Does momme weight affect the opacity of silk?

While a higher Momme weight silk will be more opaque than a lower Momme weight silk, silk in general is a semi-transparent fabric. When deciding on color, remember that dyed silk will be more opaque as the dye will stop light from passing through the fabric, while white silk will be less opaque. However, many people enjoy white silk for its classic look and ability to match with many different types of bedding.

What is Momme weight?

In simplest terms, Momme weight describes the weight of 100 yards of silk, 45 inches wide, in pounds. So, if a fabric is listed with a Momme weight of 8mm, it means that 100 yards of the fabric weigh 8 pounds. Many silk dresses and other silk clothing items will be around 8mm in weight. Higher quality silks tend to be 14, 15 or 16mm or higher.

The higher Momme weight the better?

Yes and no. It depends. Normally, the higher the Momme weight, the more durable the weave, the more luxurious the fabric is, the more suitable it is for heavy-duty use, and the longer the shelf-life. Generally, all silks can be washed and the heavier ones can be washed repeatedly. The heavier the silk, the more opaque it becomes. This can vary even between the same kind of silk.

For example, lightweight Charmeuse is translucent when used in clothing, but 30-Momme charmeuse is opaque. Therefore, it does not mean that you must always buy silk products with higher Momme weight. For instance, it would be too heavy to put on 25mm silk sleepwear for the night, but 19mm silk sleepwear is not that durable, though. In a word, it is a question of making proper choices according to your own needs.