Antique satin, also called satin-back shantung, refers to any five or eight harnesses (shaft) satin weave that uses slubbed or unevenly spun yarns in the weft (filling). It is reversible in that one side is satin and other shantung and is used for simulating 17th and 18th-century silks and clothing such as blouses, lingerie and evening wear.
This heavy and dull fabric is sensitive to damage including getting wet which leave white rings and also light which shreds it and changes the fabric colour. Therefore, antique satin must not be washed and should be cleaned by a professional fabric expert. The lining is also sewn into the hem so if the lining is altered, the fabric will be damaged. It is usually an upholstery-weight fabric and can be made using silk, rayon or acetate in the warp and coarser cotton or man-made fibres in the weft (filling). It is a satin-faced version of shantung or duppioni. The name refers to the fabric's handspun and handwoven appearance.
Antique satin was developed in the 1950s by combining acetate (warp threads) and rayon (weft threads) mainly as a decorative fabric used primarily for draperies. Unlike wedding satin with the shiny weave visible, antique satin is made of small slubs or textures on the face. The yarn most popular was known as 19/2 ply, meaning 19 threads to the inch woven as a two-ply thread to create an attractive silk-like appearance. The popular, quality style is 48" wide and first appeared in limited colours. In the late 1950s a company named Penco Fabrics, owned by Jack Penzer, and based at the drapery building, 261 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY, introduced antique satin in 101 colours, virtually revolutionizing the industry. The fabric was copied by others including Fame Fabrics and Richloom, a major supplier today, and by 1963 achieved major distribution throughout the United States. Selling at the mill level for $.59 to $.79 a yard, whether in the natural off-white, undyed, fabric to black and coloured warp yards with an iridescent effect at the higher price points, the fabric in its basic form remains somewhat popular today.