Sewing silk made easy! As smooth as silk is the way to describe this exotic, luxury fabric that originally came from the East. Its texture is smooth and soft to the touch and it feels like the queen of all fabrics.
A successful journey with sewing silk can only mean one thing…a lot of preparation. This journey can be set in the right direction by following some tried and tested tips that will help you get the best result from your very special fabric.
Taking shortcuts could cost you the outcome you were hoping, for so get ready, set and be prepared for to the art of sewing silk.
Sewing Silk – Instructions
Step 1 – Fabric preparation
The first step on the journey you are about to take is preparing the fabric. Silk is delicate remember and so it needs special care even before you pick up scissors, pins or needles.
- PRE-WASH – It is advisable to pre-wash the fabric exactly the way you will wash the finished garment as silk can shrink. If your silk is marked dry clean only, then you can skip this step as you won’t be washing it.
- PRESSING – Press with a cool, dry iron using a presser cloth. Don’t use steam as silk can get a watermark easily. Make sure your iron is clean.
- TEST A SCRAP – Test drive this process on a scrap. Then when you are sure of how to best prep your fabric, give the whole piece the pre-wash treatment. It is even worth your while to buy a bit extra when you purchase your fabric so you have enough to test each process.
Step 2 – Pattern Laying and Cutting
The trouble with silk is it is slippery – smooth and slippery! Laying out the pattern and cutting is tricky. Scissors can slip and go off course and material can slide and not be cut accurately.
You can try any of these cutting methods to good results:
- SILK PINS – You will get the best results with special silk pins. Don’t skimp and get holes left in your fabric by using thick pins. Instead of pins, use pattern weights or cans from your pantry to weigh down the fabric.
- CUTTING TOOLS – Use a rotary cutter and cutting board.
- STOP SLIPPING – Tracing paper put between the layers of fabric can stop slipping.
- AVOID HOLES – Pin into the seam allowance to avoid pinholes.
- DIRECTION – Make sure your pattern pieces go the same direction so the shine of the silk goes the same way. You may need to flip over your paper pattern piece in order to do this and follow the cutting directions for fabrics with a nap.
- HANDLING – Wash your hands before you start as silk stains easily. Be careful of sweat marks as well.
Step 3 – Getting Ready for Sewing Silk
Now, are you ready to sew? No, not quite…Grab a scrap to test
- NEEDLES – Make sure your needle are suitable for silk and are an appropriate thickness. Many silks are quite thin so you will need a fine needle.
- SETTINGS – Check your stitch length – try a stitch length of 2.0 as smaller stitches look better on fine silk.
- MARKING – If you use a marking pen, check on a scrap first – Some marking pens do not come off the silk. (Read ways to mark fabric)
- THREAD – Use polyester cotton for strength and durability.
- TENSION – Check your sewing machine tension and make the necessary adjustments. The stitches should not pull or wrinkle the fabric.
- UNPICKING – Remember silk does not unpick well – no margin of error is a good way to think. (how to unpick seams). Purchase some extra fabric in case of mistakes.
- WORK CLEANLY – Keep those hands clean and check for possible oil residue on your machine.
All clean and prepped? – Now you are ready to go.
Step 4 – Sewing Silk – Ready Steady Go
Now the preparation is done you can ease off and start your journey. You are ready to sew and create that fabulous garment made of silk.
- BASTING – Always baste the seam or section you are working on as it will make the rest of the seam so much easier to control. Try using tailor’s tack or baste the markings and seams before you sew
- SEAMS – A French seam works well on the softer, finer silks. However, it can be bulky on thicker silk fabrics. Avoid bulky seams on fine silks, especially when you press the garment – silk shows marks easily.
- FINISHING – Decide on the method of finishing that best suits the silk you are working with. You can use a serger or try a zigzag finish if you have no serger – silk frays! Using a serger with a differential feed is a good option for silk. (Read how to finish seams)
- INTERFACING – Consider using strips of fusible interfacing along the side of the seams to keep edges trim as another neatening option to stop fraying.
- STABILIZING – You can also stabilize a seam with a thin strip of bias sewn into the seam allowance.
- LININGS – Think about lining the garment if you want a tailored finish – it will be worth the extra work.
- PRACTICE – Once again practice on scraps before you rush into running up a garment made of silk.
Sewing Silk – In Conclusion
Now you are all set for sewing silk and getting great results.
The preparation for sewing silk is a worthwhile investment to help you sew a beautiful garment and you will be sure to say that the process, in spite of the preparation went …. as smooth as silk.
More about silk:
LEARN HOW TO SEW WITH MORE FABRICS
Now you know all about sewing silk fabric, check out these other fabrics listed alphabetically.
- CHIFFON – Sewing Chiffon
- BATIK – What is Batik
- CANVAS – Sewing Canvas
- COTTON – Sewing Cotton
- DENIM – Sewing Denim
- FELT – Sewing Felt
- FUR – Sewing Fur
- KNITS – How to Sew Stretch Fabric
- INTERFACING – Types of Interfacing
- LACE – How to Sew Lace
- LEATHER – Sewing Leather
- RAYON – Sewing Rayon
- SHEER – Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- SILK – How to Sew Silk
- THICK – Sewing Thick Fabrics
- VELVET Sewing Velvet
- WOOL – Sewing Wool