This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Watered. An effect produced upon gros grain silk by which the surface assumes a variety of shades, as if the cloth were covered with a multitude of waving lines, the transition from bright to dull effects giving beauty to the fabric. There are two methods of watering silk. It is known that if a silk tissue be pressed with a hot metal roller engraved with a vapory design, that the design on the roller is reproduced on the tissue, which takes, on the portions affected, a distinct appearance without changing color. These, which might be termed grained or marbled effects, can be produced on goods of any width, ribbons or dress fabrics, rollers of the proper width being all that is necessary. The watered effect may also be produced by wetting the silk and expelling the air and moisture under great pressure. The air in trying to effect its escape, drives before it the moisture, and hence causes the appearance of the curiously tortuous lines, resembling waves. [See Moire]