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Sewing with Silk

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How can something so lovely come from something so icky?? Ohhhh... I'm going to get emails from the insect lovers on that one. But you have to admit it's pretty amazing how one of the world's most luxurious fabrics gets its start wrapped around a pupating silkworm, which actually isn't a true worm at all, it's the caterpillar of a moth in the Bombicidae family. One cocoon contains approximately 1,000 yards of silk filament. One thread consists of up to 48 individual silk filaments. A very picky eater (similar to my middle child, who I believe subsisted on Goldfish® crackers for nearly a year), the silkworm's diet consists solely of mulberry leaves. Starting Monday of next week, we have a series of beautiful color-blocked pillows made with rich silk dupioni. We thought you'd like to know a little history as well as some tips and tricks for successful sewing with silk.

The history of silk

Sericulture, or silk farming, is said to date back to 27th century BC(BCE) China, and the use of silk was confined to China for three millennia. In fact, an imperial decree condemned to death anyone attempting to export silkworms or their eggs. During the majority of this time, the right to wear silk was restricted to the Chinese emperor, members of his imperial family and the highest dignitaries. Silk was also often used to make paper (another Chinese discovery).

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Women striking and preparing silk, painting by Emperor Huizong of Song, early 12th century BC(BCE).

During the 4th century BC(BCE), merchants began bringing silk westward. We know its route as the famous Silk Road, 4,000 miles stretching from Eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea.The Greeks and Romans were early adopters and particularly enamored; silk was even used in the Roman Empire as a monetary standard for estimating the value of different products.

Around 300 AD(CE), sericulture spread to Japan and by 500 AD(CE) to the Byzantines and the Arabs. Eventually, the Crusades brought silk production to Western Europe where it thrived for years in France as well as many Italian states. In 1472, records show 84 silk workshops and at least 7000 craftsmen in Florence alone.

The Industrial Revolution led to huge advances in the mechanization of spinning and looming, causing a rise in the popularity of less-expensive cotton. Silk production was, and still is in many ways, a very specialized and expensive process. The advent of the Jacquard loom, in the late 1700s, increased the efficiency of silk production, especially silk embroidery.

Today, with hundreds of natural and synthetic fibers available globally, true silk is again a somewhat rare luxury good and China has regained its status as the world's largest producer and exporter of raw silk and silk yarn.

Silk: the Queen of fabrics

The shimmering appearance for which silk is prized comes from the fiber's triangular, prism-like structure, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles. Despite its delicate appearance, silk is the strongest natural fiber known to man. It has numerous innate qualities and advantages:

  • Because of its natural protein structure, silk is the most hypoallergenic of all fabrics.
  • An all-climate fabric, silk is warm and cozy in winter and comfortably cool in summer. Its natural temperature-regulating properties give silk the paradoxical ability to cool and warm simultaneously. Silk garments thus outperform other fabrics in both summer and winter. Silk worn as a second layer warms without being bulky.
  • Silk is highly absorbent; it can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. Silk will absorb perspiration while letting your skin breathe.
  • In spite of its delicate appearance, silk is relatively robust. Its smooth surface resists soil and odors well. Silk is wrinkle and tear resistant, and it dries quickly.
  • While silk's abrasion resistance is moderate, it is the strongest natural fiber and, surprisingly, easily competes with steel yarn in tensile strength
  • Silk takes color well; washes easily; and is easy to work with in spinning, weaving, knitting and sewing.

Bulleted Information courtesy of TexereSilk.com

The six most common types of silk

Raw Silk

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Silk yarn or fiber from which the 'sericin' or natural protective gum hasn't been removed is called 'raw.' The protective coating makes the silk stiff and rather dull and can attract both dirt and odors.

Dupioni

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A type of silk fabric made from twin cocoons naturally bonded together. The bumps in the fabric, they're really called 'slubs', are the result of this bonding. Dupioni is often woven from two different colors of thread, giving it a shimmering, color-shifting appearance. Sturdy and substantial, it feels almost like taffeta. It's very easy to sew with and holds a crease well. However, it does not stretch at all so make sure your cuts are precise.

Charmeuse

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This is what comes to mind when most people think of silk. Charmeuse is a medium-weight weave; the front has a satin finish, lustrous and reflective, and the back has a matte crepe finish. It has beautiful drape and is a top choice for garment sewing. Even so, it is quite slippery, snags easily and is really too soft to hold sharp creases well.

Crepe de Chine

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Another top garment silk, Crepe de Chine (French for "Crepe from China) is very lightweight and known for its 'pebbly' appearance, which is achieved by twisting some fibers clockwise and others counterclockwise then weaving these twisted fibers together. Both sides of the fabric look exactly the same. It doesn't ravel as easily as other types of silk, but can tear if not handled with care.

China Silk

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Very lightweight with a plain weave, a nice sheen and a smooth texture. This is one of the least expensive varieties of silk fabric. It has a graceful drape, but because it is so lightweight, it's not a good choice for anything fitted; the seams easily tear under stress. Scarves are traditionally made from China silk.

Shantung

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This variety is in the dupioni family of silks and its name comes from the Shantung province. Originally, the fabric was woven from wild silk but today's shantung is usually made from cultivated silk warp yarns alternated with heavier dupioni weft yarns. There is a 'tussah' silk, which is still made from the cocoons of wild tussah silkworms that eat oak and juniper leaves; this results in short, coarse fibers rather than the traditional long, lustrous strands. Shantung is firm and crisp, making it a good choice for projects with gathers or pleats. It does ravel very easily so all seams must be finished.

Sewing with silk

The following are good rules for all types of silk, but as with any tip or technique, test everything on a small scrap before you dive into the whole project.

Cutting tools

Silk is prone to snags and pulls, so it is very important your scissors are super sharp and free of any nicks in the blades. If you prefer using a rotary cutter, insert a fresh blade.

Needles & Pins

A brand new, fine needle with a sharp point is best. Try a 70/10 or 60/8 size. Needles called "sharps", "quilting" or "Microtex" are good ones to look for.

Sharp and smooth are the watch words for your pins as well. You can find actual silk pins, but any fine, sharp straight pin will work.

Cutting & Pinning

Slippery, slippery is silk! Because of this, it is often recommended you cover your regular cutting surface with kraft or butcher paper then lay the silk over the paper. The grip of the paper helps the silk from sliding. Because of the slipperiness, it's also a good idea to always cut silk as a single layer rather than folded.

Pins can leave behind holes in silk, so if you must pin, do it within the seam allowance so any left-behind holes won't be seen on the finished project.

Thread

Oddly enough, silk thread is not your best choice for sewing with silk. It's not as strong as cotton or polyester thread. I confirmed this with our friends at Coats & Clark. They recommend the Dual Duty XP Fine thread for silk, which is fine enough to meld into the seam and not cause puckering, but because it's polyester, is stronger that a cotton thread this thin would be. However, the XP Fine is available in fewer colors, so a Dual Duty General Purpose is another good choice.

Marking

Fabric markers and chalk can sometimes be hard to remove from silk. Make sure you do a test mark on a scrap and try to remove it before making any marks on your actual cut pieces. If there's a problem, try tailor tacks, which are made by running a doubled length of thread through the fabric at notches, dots and other marks. Or you can mark pattern notches by making a tiny snip within the seamline.

Seam and fabric strength

If you choose a lightweight silk for home décor projects, you might consider adding a thin layer of cotton batting for extra strength and density. This is a particularly good idea for silk pillow covers.

In garment sewing with silk, if you have a seam that is likely to have a stress point (sleeves, crotch, pockets, etc) you can add what is called 'stay tape' over the seam. A couple sources I found suggested using the selvage from your silk fabric, which I thought was a great, free idea. You can also use a packaged twill tape.

Avoid fusible interfacings. Silk organza is a good alternative.

Actual sewing

If you are still worried about slipping and shifting while you sew, layer strips of tissue paper or lightweight tear-away stabilizer over and under your fabric prior to stitching.

A flat bottom presser foot is best, and you can experiment with increasing the presser-foot pressure. Alway run several test seams first to check for pulling or puckering.

If your machine has a straight-stitch needle plate, this offers the best surface for any fine, thin fabrics... not just silk.

A shorter stitch length is normally recommended - try 2.0 to 2.5.

Always finish you seams to avoid raveling. A French seam or a serged finish are your best choices. If you have a serger, one suggestion is to serge ALL the raw edges of ALL your cut pieces. This helps in two ways, 1) it prevents raveling while you are working with the pieces, and 2) it pre-finishes your edges while they are flat and easier to work with. Because a serger trims and cuts simultaneously, you'll need to over-cut your pattern pieces to account for the trimming.

Caring for silk

As with any fabric preparation, it is important to pre-treat silk in the method you intend to care for the finished project.

Often, silks best retain their crispness and shine if dry-cleaned, so no pre-treatment is necessary. That said, many silks can be hand washed, using a mild detergent or baby shampoo, in lukewarm water. Rinse the fabric several times to make sure all soap is removed.

Rather than drying in the dryer, roll silk in a towel to absorb excess water, then iron the rest of the way dry on a low setting. If wrinkles are not an issue, simply lay flat to air dry.

Use a pressing cloth (you can make your own from silk organza) to protect your silk from heat and steam drips. Press the seams flat first, then press them open. Pressing them flat first kind of 'melds' the stitches into the fabric and you are less likely to have puckering.

Never use a chlorine bleach; it will yellow silk.

Moths will attack silk so keep your finished project protected... I think they must know we stole the silk from them!

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Comments (50)

Riley said:
Riley's picture

What is the best silk for a high quality men's necktie?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Riley - there's no one best choice - it's totally up to your personal preference. What gives a high end necktie it's weigth is the interlining: a core strip of thicker material, wool or cotton or a blend of the two, around which the silk is folded – is tucked into the blade tip.

Leah Alice said:
Leah Alice's picture

Great article! I will refer to it often when I attempt to sew some lingerie for my honeymoon:)

Tomi Wright said:
Tomi Wright's picture

Any suggestions for what type of silk is best for a FLOWING Skirt? 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

Of the ones listed above, charmeuse and crepe de chine have the best drape for garments. You best bet is to feel it for yourself. Buy an 1/8 of a yard and see if you like the feel.

chuck said:
chuck's picture

i get marks from presser feet and button holer when making button holes in charmeuse.  can a tape or other material be used to eliminate or reduce marks?  marks are on both sides of fabric.   the designs i am making are all single layer.

thank you for any info.  your answers to other posts were very informative.

chuck

 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ chuck - One answer for buttonholes on a single layer of charmeuse would be to sandwich the fabric between two layers of clear wash away stabilizer such as Solvy. The stabilizer pulls away right at the stitching, so it doesn't show. It will also work well with any stitching on the right side of the fabric. For seams sewn with right sides together, since it is slippery fabric, pinning the edges together with a strip of tissue paper in between helps. 

Debra De Beer said:
Debra De Beer's picture

please could you tell me how to see which side is the right /correct side on my raw silk ? It is the fabric that is similar to taffetta.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Debra De Beer -  Sometimes (although more common with the dupionis) there are little bumps in the fabric, called slubs. You can decide if you'd like this texture to be the "right" or the "wrong side." But really... if it's not obvious to look at, it doesn't really matter which side you're using. 

dinesh kumar pal said:
dinesh kumar pal's picture

 i am stiching  poly crap garment  there getting a lots of puckuring pls advice me purfect soulution if some body have  knowladge about it

 

 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ dinesh kumar pal - it is hard to tell long distance what your trouble might be. Check that your sewing machine is threaded correctly and that the tension is set correctly for your fabric. Also, make sure you have a new, sharp needle. If you continue to have trouble, it would be best to have a sewing machine retailer look at your machine.

SRF said:
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I am making bedroom curtains from silk for my daughter.  What would the best lining material be?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ SRF - We do not have specific experience with this type of project so hesitate to give you long-distance advice without knowing all the particulars of your project. There are a lot of variables in terms of the type of silk, the size of the curtains, etc. I would recommend looking for someone in your local area who has window covering expertise. 

Patty C said:
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Dear Liz

Pls hlp me with tips to choose best sewing machine ,I have computarized option as first what do you think of that? Thanks

SusanD said:
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I have purchased several saris in coordinating colors to make a swirly dance dress.  One is a heavier, smoother solid color that I was going to use for the lining.  Then I have two lighter weight that I was going to use for the top layer.  I am hoping that the heavier wieght of the silk of the lining will be enough to keep the lighter silk from tearing while leaving to be flowing and swirly.  What do you think?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ SusanD - I'm sorry but we don't have a good answer for you on that. We rarely do garment projects on Sew4Home, so it's not our area of expertise. All I can offer is that a truly heavy silk will not be flowing and swirly, so it's hard to tell if that will be stabilizing for the the lighter layers or if it would keep them from moving. Unfortunately, this may be one of those times when you won't know for sure until you try it. You might try contacting a seamstress who is experienced making wedding or other special occasion apparel for advice. Best of luck.

Bethany said:
Bethany's picture

I'm confused about the wrinkling issue. At least one comment addresses the fact that it is prone to wrinkling but in the article it mentions that silk is wrinkle and tear resistant. Am I missing something?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Bethany - the key here is wrinkle "resistant" - so it can definitely wrinkle, especially in the wedding scenario described below and with that type of silk. However, it's not a crazy wrinkly like a linen. There are lots of different types, but in general it irons very well and holds its smoothness well. If you are looking at a particular type of silk, you could buy a small piece and test it.

TisMary said:
TisMary's picture

Thank you for this great article!  I just bought 1/2 yard of hand-dyed silk to make a scarf.  The "hand" of the silk and its colors are so beautiful, I couldn't resist it!  The piece is 18" x 45" with selvedges at the ends.  I plan to double-fold the long ends and topstitch close to the edge.

Wish me luck!  I'm goin' in!

ddw12131 said:
ddw12131's picture

I am asking a seamstress to make to bride's maid dresses of silk charmeuse.  It has been mentioned that this fabric will wrinkle heavily on my wedding day and thus appear sloppy on my bride's maids.  Of course, that is not the look that I'm going for.  That said, are there any recommendations for sewing the dresses in such a way to minimize the extent of wrinkles?  Such as,...would a type of interface be beneficial, or do you recommend a certain type of lining over another?

Thank you,...Donna

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ ddw12131 - I don't consider myself the be-all-end-all authority on silk by any means, and so would defer to your seamstress. In general, natural fibers are going to wrinkle - that is just the way of the world with cottons, linens, silks... about the only surefire way to reduce wrinkles is to increase the amount of non-natural fibers blended in, ie. the more polyester you add, the less it will wrinkle. Silk has a wonderful drape, so adding interfacing is usually not recommended. For wedding parties, the lining is normally about what will best avoid any transparency problems and still keep the outfits cool and breathable. Silk is a beautiful fabric and the design of your dresses may minimize the wrinkling - but it's hard for me to troubleshoot from a distance. I'm sure your seamstress has the experience to advise you. Let her help you find the best solution. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ LaCucitrice -- Ha! I'd forgotten I'd added that batting tip to this article as well -- the technique is the same as the project article I linked. Yes, reinforcement behind the tufting would be good. I haven't used the Pellon product you mention, but have used a small circle of felt. I've also used the upholstery trick of the felt circle along with a small flat plastic button on the inside to help prevent tears. These cushions sound pretty thin though - so you might be able to feel the buttons, but that is a great "pull out" preventer. Hope it all works out well for you.
LaCucitrice said:
LaCucitrice's picture
Hi Liz. Thanks for replying! The "batting trick" was under the "Seam and Fabric Strength" paragraph ("If you choose a lightweight silk for home décor projects, you might consider adding a thin layer of cotton batting for extra strength and density. This is a particularly good idea for silk pillow covers."). My main concern is making sure that there's some sort of reinforcement to keep the stitched tufting from turning into ripped, gaping holes. I think the tufting in the originals was done with a heavyweight cotton thread pulled really tight in order to make something so thin actually show the indented "tufted" look. I think the customer is buying apparel silk that the supplier doesn't provide backing for, so I want to make VERY sure to identify the best sort of reinforcement technique for these stitched spots. I'm momentarily going to do a test by cutting out and applying fusible, lightweight Pellon "patches" behind the fabric to see whether it shows through. If it doesn't show through, wouldn't such patches offer good reinforcement in these spots if I don't use your batting technique?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
LaCucitrice - I believe the "batting trick" you are referring to is from an earlier article about shaped pillows? If so, that is probably the best time to use it, and it is actually a sandwich: lining, batting and exterior -- all three layers are stitched together and then used as one. This way, you don't have trouble with wrinkles. For the very flat cushions you are making, I don't think the batting would be absolutely necessary. You could just use lining behind the silk, but again, stitch the two layers together around the outer edge so you don't have problems with shifting. Either of these methods should eliminate any of the "poke through" you describe. You probably should also use a thicker thread or doubled thread for the tufting so there's no chance of the fine thread pulling through and leaving a hole. Here's a link to our Heart Shaped Pillows that use the batting sandwich technique:

http://sew4home.com/projects/pillows-cushions/791-valentines-day-hoopla-...
LaCucitrice said:
LaCucitrice's picture
Hi Liz. I'm sewing a replacement set of silk dupione toss cushions (only 1" thick) and want to make sure these hold up for my customer. The unlined originals failed when the tufting began coming loose. FIRST QUESTION: When you suggested using a layer of thin batting for cushions to strengthen the fabric, are you suggesting fusible batting? Will that work with dupione? If not, and it's just used as a non-fused lining, won't it show wrinkles beneath the dupione? SECOND QUESTION: What additional precautions can I take to ensure that the tufted spots don't come undone? Would the batting be sufficient? This tufting is simply stitched tufting -- no buttons. Thanks so much for providing such invaluable info on your site.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ mars - An anti-static rayon would be a good lining choice,
mras said:
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I have one more question...which lining should I use under the silk charmeuse for the wedding dress? Thank you again for your response.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ mras - I have not worked with the polyester charmeuse, so I can't give you a first hand review. It is said to be very similar in feel and drape. However, I also opt for the natural fibers. Natural silk charmeuse is likely to be softer and more delicate. If price is an issue, the polyester is much less expensive. For a wedding dress, I would also be concerned that the polyester is not as breathable. There's already a lot of sweat about on the big day... you probably don't want your dress to be contributing to that ;-). I'd vote for the silk if your budget will allow it.
mras said:
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I am planning to make my daughter's wedding dress. Would silk charmeuse be best or polyester charmeuse. It is a flowing gown. Thank you. Your article has been helpful already.
valerieB said:
valerieB's picture
since most fabric I buy is from garage sales or op( thrift) shops how can I identify silk fabrics from the newer polyester copies? I was told that is you pull of a few threads that they are short fibers. Also if you burn a few threads and it melts then it is a polyester. Do you know of anything else?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ TrinaH -- I would agree that dupioni or shantung would be the best choices for a floor pillow. Take a look at the paragraph above about Seam and Fabric Strength -- although it talks about garments, the tips would be the same for your home decor seams:

"In garment sewing with silk, if you have a seam that is likely to have a stress point (sleeves, crotch, pockets, etc) you can add what is called 'stay tape' over the seam. A couple sources I found suggested using the selvage from your silk fabric, which I thought was a great, free idea. You can also use a packaged twill tape."
TrinaH. said:
TrinaH.'s picture
I am making large floor pillows for a friend out of silk. What type of silk would you recommend? I am thinking of dupioni or shantung. What kind of reinforcment will the seams need if they are well used?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Nicole.Pitre - I'm not an expert in banners, but from my work with silk, I would say the dupioni would be your best bet.
Nicole.Pitre said:
Nicole.Pitre's picture
I am attempting to make streamers for my church's christmas production and this website has given me the most information of what types of silk I should use and how to sew them. Thank you so much for taking the time to create this. I do however have a question, which silk would be my best bet to make a streamer that will be light, durable, and the same on both sides?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi mich - I'm not a hand sewing expect, but checked with my friend Allie Aller who is. She says this in her book "Crazy Quilting":

Large-eyed chenille or crewel embroidery needles are used for ribbon embroidery; Milliner's (or straw) needles are good for French knots because the eye isn't wide than the shaft; and embroidery needles are good for all around work.

Hope that helps. You can read more about Allie's book here: http://sew4home.com/tips-resou...y-quilting
mich said:
mich's picture
I am new to handsewing and having problems with finding a needle to suit silk dupioni. I am making a rose type flower, and while the needles can go through 1 layer of fabric, anything thicker, and the needle gets stuck... or breaks. I am following a pattern, so it can be done, but what should I use??? Thanks
Sueh said:
Sueh's picture
Hi, When laying on pattern should the slub be horizontal?
Thanks for your help!
stylingdj said:
stylingdj's picture
Love this blog. I own a quilt store and carry silk to make quilts. This blog gives the most accurate information on sewing with silk that I have found. Will be recommending it to customers. Thank you.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi miskc -- A lot of the information we found suggests ironing and steaming, which you have already done, including dampening the silk or the ironing cloth and then ironing. Some sites suggest that if you are spraying the material to dampen it that you use distilled water. Tap water has minerals that can stain the fabric. Here are a couple additional links to try. Good luck!

http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_6200918_remove-wrinkles-silk-material.html

http://www.howcast.com/videos/402251-How-to-Get-Wrinkles-Out-of-Silk-and...
mlskc said:
mlskc's picture
Hi,
I am in the process of making my daughter's wedding dress from Dupioni Silk. The fabric came on a bolt and was folded in half creating a center fold. I have tried carefully ironing the crease, steaming the crease and everything else I could think of to get it out. It's a very intense crease. Nothing has worked. I did not pre-wash the fabric as we liked more body, so trying to wet the crease leaves a water stain. I wonder if you have a solution? I would very much appreciate some help here.

Hobbysew said:
Hobbysew's picture
Sewing with silk is not too difficult. Firstly you have to choose correct needle it should be Sharpe & Smooth not hard. Thread selection is very important part in sewing. For normal fabric it must be used “fine (size A) strong thread” for strong stitching. But if your fabric slippery it could be difficult for cutting. So you could pin it to a sheet for perfect cutting. It is also beneficial for long cutting with accuracy. Before you start Stitching. Fabric should be properly placed on Face Plate. If you follow some precautions, you will never face any problem with silk.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Harriet Allen - we actually have an article coming up soon about thread: which to use for what application, so I won't go into great detail here other than to say that I think the very best use for silk thread is for topstitching and other embellishment, like applique. Many folks also love it for hand sewing, like beadwork, because it is so fine and tangles less than most threads. Again, as we mention above, the manufacturers we spoke with don't recommend silk thread for silk sewing because often the fibers in a silk thread are short, and even though the thread LOOKS wonderful, it may not be as strong as the silk itself and can fray or break easily. All that said, many people do love sewing with silk thread; if they have luck with it and are willing to pay the premium price, they should stick with what they like best. Stay tuned for more info on thread coming soon.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi acwink - I don't have any personal experience using spray stabilizer on silk, so I can't give you a definitive yay or nay. I did see some mentions online for Sullivan's Spray Stabilizer. Some sewers don't believe in using the sprays on expensive silks, but a number of people mentioned Sullivan's as one that works well. It makes the fabric stiff and papery, but doesn't scorchor build up on your iron, and they say it washes away well. I found it at createforless:

http://www.createforless.com/Sullivans+Spray+Fabric+Stabilizer+14.5+oz/p...
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Thank you for your quick answer, Liz! I have another question: What's your take on using spray stabilizer when sewing with silk? Thanks!
Harriet Allen said:
Harriet Allen's picture
My friend likes to sew with silk thread. Why and when would one choose to sew with silk thread over the polyester thread for making a garment?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi acwink -- much like the silk crepe de chine, dupioni is quite similar on both sides. For our upcoming projects, we chose an iridescent dupioni and found that one side had slightly more sheen than the other. Also the "slubs" are a bit more prominent on one side. However, you can't really make a wrong choice. Simply choose the side you like best and work with that as the "right" side. You'll need to keep track of right and wrong in your initial cutting and pinning process, so make a small, discreet mark or put a pin on the right side to help you remember. If you accidentally mix the two sides, if next to one another, they will give each give off a slightly different shimmer... again, not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind.
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Thank you SO much for this post. I have lots and lots of dupioni, which I bought on sale, and I appreciate all your advice. One silly question: How can you tell which side is the right side? It looks pretty much the same from both sides.
Thank you!

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