Surah weave is a weave that sent me scurrying to the Fairchild’s Textile Dictionary. In All About Silk, Julie Parker identifies this as “A soft, lightweight silk twill named for Surat, India, where it was first made.” That’s all well and good, but then she says it is “woven with a slack twist yarns” which, being NOT a weaver, I have no idea what that meant. So down the rabbit hole I go.
According to Fairchild, slack twist is a synonym for soft twist, which means “a type of yarn, especially a spun type, that has a relatively low number of turns of twist per inch, like a filling yarn or knitting yarn.”
Now, I think this means that the filaments are not spun as much prior to being woven. As the comparison examples of a high twist yarn are crepe and voile yarns, this contextually makes sense to me. So what makes Surah different from other twills is this soft twist, which gives the twill a very soft, drapey hand.
Parker goes on to explain that Surah is generally printed after weaving with either a paisley pattern or a foulard print. Paisley I think is easily identified by most people, but I had to look up foulard, which according to Fairchildis “a small design on a plain ground.” As descriptions go, it’s somewhat lacking.
As for use, given that it is a twill, Surah drapes well and is easy to pleat and gather. However, probably due to the soft twist, it snags easily and is prone to seam slippage, wearing out quickly along seams.