Pongee

Pongee, like most silks, originates from China. The word even is very Chinese, the etymology of which is penchi, meaning woven at home, or home loom (Fairchilds, p. 474). This is another plain woven silk, but rougher, with a homespun feel to it, versus the fineness of China Silk. Fairchild’s also reports that this is woven in the gum. I hazard to guess what this means as no specific definition is given, but my supposition is that the silk is only mildly washed or not washed at all, prior to weaving. This supposition is supported by the crisp hand of Pongee silk.

Pongee is also made of tussah silk, meaning wild caught, rather than the highly cultivated Bombyx mori silk work. The warped threads are lighter than the weft threads, but the weft threads are evenly spun, so pongee is not as nubby as dupioni, although when there are nubs, they tend to be on both the warp and the weft, unless the loom is warped with cultivated silk. It is generally left a natural light beige or ecru color.

Pongee drapes well but also holds a crease well, and so would work well as a shirting fabric. It is very light weight and would probably dye well, but as the silk does not seem to be de-gummed, I would test dye a piece before dyeing a whole batch, both to test absorption and to test color fastness.