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July 05 2017


How to sew from silk


Silk is a luxurious and delicate fabric that has admired for centuries. Another silk, which made from cocoons of silkworms, is also the most durable fiber of natural origin. The silky and smooth texture of this fabric creates some difficulties in sewing, which requires special attention. Nevertheless, there are simple techniques that will simplify the work with silk at any stage of sewing at home.


Prewash silk


Wash the silk cloth with your hands. Silk has a property to sit down, which can change the size and appearance of the thing you are sewing. Having pre-washed the fabric, you will minimize this shrinkage, which can occur when you wash the thing after sewing. Usually, silk shrinks by about 5-10%, while for some free options this figure reaches 15%.


Use a delicate detergent and warm water, wash the silk in the bathroom or bucket. Alternatively, apply a mild shampoo.


Some types of silk can wash in a washing machine. Choose a delicate mode and a mild detergent.


Several types of silk, like silk-cribs dupioni, for example, can only be given to dry cleaners.


Wash the fabric of saturated colors separately. If your silk is bright or profound, it is best to wash it separately. The colors used with silk have the property of being washed off, and you do not want to discolor your fabric. Select the time for cleaning the fabrics of different colors separately, so that the colors not shed and the materials do not change color.


Preliminary washing fabrics of bright colors also help ensure that colors do not pour out after you finish sewing.


Rinse the cloth in water with white vinegar. Vinegar will help get rid of excess soap left on the fabric. Pour a quarter cup of white vinegar into a bucket or sink, filled with 4 liters of water. Wipe with a silk cloth several times to wash away the powder. Pour out the water and leave the silk in the sink.


Rinse the cloth again in water. Rinse the cloth again, this time without vinegar. Clean water will wash away the vinegar residue and eliminate the vinegar smell.


Do not squeeze the silk fabric. After you finish hand washing, do not wring out or press the fabric to remove excess water. Better leave the cloth on the towel, and then put another sheet on top.


More excess moisture can remove if ironing the sheet from above on average temperature.


Dry the cloth. There are several ways to dry the silk fabric, depending on your preferences. Try partially drying the fabric in the dryer. Remove the fabric when it is still wet, and hang it until it dries dry.


Alternatively, you can dry the silk between the towels, or hang it dry immediately after washing.


Take everything you need


Take sharp scissors. Since silk is slippery, use very sharp scissors so that the cuts along the fabric are smooth and clean.


Not bad to get traditional sewing scissors, as well as scissors with serrated blades. Scissors with serrated blades are scissors that cut out small triangles along the edge of the fabric. So the fabric will not be frayed around the edges, which often happens with silk.


For silk, you need a small needle in the sewing machine. A sharp and thin needle will leave smaller holes in the silk fabric. Since all the holes are usually visible on the silk, it is better to use a small needle for sewing.


The ideal size is a 60/8 needle Microtex or Universal.


During operation, keep a few spare needles handy. It will be a good idea to replace the needle from time to time so that you always use a sharp needle. Silk fibers are strong enough and can quickly blunt the needle.


If you sew with your hands, choose a thin and sharp needle.


Take a polyester or cotton thread of very high quality. The thread should match the fabric in color. A good choice is a cotton-wrapped thread or 100% polyester. Although some people prefer to use silk thread with silk thread, silk threads are not robust and can quickly become disheveled.



Give preference to the presser foot for the sewing machine. The foot on the sewing machine presses the fabric until the needle moves up and down. It is recommended to use the presser foot, as it will not damage the silk when the material passes through the machine.


Alternatively, take a walking foot that will not allow the silk to slide and slide off.


Clean and wipe off the dust from your sewing machine. Working with a clean and tidy sewing machine is the golden rule of sewing, but it's especially important when you work with a fine cloth like silk. Wipe the device to remove any residual dirt from the machine. To remove dust, you can also use a special nozzle or pressure device to clean all the cracks and crevices of your machine with air.


Cutting of silk fabric


Wash hands before handling silk.

Wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly dry them. It will remove from your hands the remains of fats that can leave stains on the fabric.


It is especially important if you sew by hand.


Put a muslin or a thin tissue paper under a layer of silk. Tissue paper, muslin or even parchment will not let the silk slip when you cut it with scissors.


Cigarette paper is especially useful because it can continue to be used to fix your fabric when you crisply silk and begin sewing.


Spray the stabilizer for the fabric. It will not also hurt to spray the stabilizer for the fabric - silk will become stronger, and it will be easier for you to cut it. You can buy it in cloth stores or order online.


Use pins for silk and weights to secure the pattern. Pins for silk are fragile; they leave tiny holes in the silk fabric. They are useful when you need to attach a pattern to the fabric, without damaging its surface. Weights used when you need to fix the structure on the surface for cutting so that it does not move when you cut it. You can also use heavy objects (such as canned food) to hold the cloth.


Cut each piece of things one at a time. With other tissues, you can cut out elements of the same shape together, just doubling the amount of fabric. Nevertheless, when working with silk, it is better to cut out each template separately. Silk is too slippery and cutting through two layers of fabric can cause errors when cutting out the template.


If there are elements of the model in the fold, then redraw the part as it will appear in the expanded form. So, you do not have to cut two layers of fabric at a time.


Preparation of sewing fabrics


Use the pins for silk. Pins for silk are fragile; they leave tiny holes in the silk fabric. They are useful when you need to attach a pattern to the fabric, without damaging its surface.


Alternatively, use hair clips or clothespins to hold the fabric together.



Arrange the pins in the allowances on the seams. Seam allowances are areas of fabric along the edges that will not be visible after the end of sewing. Since holes are obvious on the silk, fasten the fabric with a pin in the allowances to the seams, so as not to leave holes in conspicuous places. Usually, seam allowances in width are about 1.3 - 1.6 cm.


Press the allowances with the iron on low temperature and press fabric. Smooth out the silk fabric to better see the benefits during sewing. Another smoothing of the allowances will fix them in place while you are sewing. Set the iron at a low temperature and put the press fabric over the silk to avoid direct contact with your material.


On many irons, there is a mode for silk that is suitable for this purpose.


Trim the disheveled edges. Silk can quickly fray, and after a preliminary washing on the fabric, there may be more "fringe" than on the newly purchased silk cut. Trim the edges to remove this side and straighten the edges. Cut off all loose threads.


Sewing of silk fabric


Sew the pieces of fabric together with a live thread. Sewing on a live thread is a technique of using long and free stitches to keep the fabric together, and it's easier to sew. Since silk is very slippery, it is better to sew parts onto an active thread, which will look like a dotted line.


Read more about how to sew on a live thread.


Place a thin wrapping paper under the silk. If, during sewing, your silk fabric is too slippery, try putting thin paper under your sewing area. The needle will pass through both layers, sewing them together.


When you are finished sewing a thing, you can just tear off the paper.

Spray the stabilizer for the fabric. It will not hurt to spray the stabilizer for the fabric, which will slightly harden the silk and it will be easier for you to cut it. You can buy it in cloth stores or order online.

Try sewing on a defective workpiece. Check how your sewing machine's settings work on silk, starting sewing on a broken silk stock. Adjust the tension and thread before continuing to sew.


You should get about 8-12 stitches per 2.5 cm, although the number of stitches may vary depending on your project.


Pull back the upper and bobbin thread. When you place the fabric in the sewing machine in the right place, pull the top and bobbin thread away from you. So the thread will not accidentally fall into the presser's foot, which would lead to holes or tighten on the fabric during sewing.


Manually lower the needle to the cloth. Rotate the flywheel so that the needle sits on the fabric. Thus, the sewing machine will start to work very slowly, and the fabric will not gather in the folds and will not catch on the foot.


Hold the cloth smoothly. Carefully stretch the fabric so that it directly fed into the machine. But make sure that silk is not tightened too tightly because it can form puffs on the already sewn things

Make a few stitches, then a stitch. Start with a few stitches, and then secure them with a stitch along them. So the stitches will not protrude. You need to do this very carefully, so as not to accidentally prevent the fabric from slipping or crumpling at the very beginning.

Sew slowly and evenly. Silk has a property to assemble and get lost in a heap, so move very slowly when working with this fabric. Try to sew evenly so that the stitches are even and consistent.


From time to time, check how things are progressing. Slow down or stop to make sure that the fabric passes through the machine correctly. Look at your allowances to make sure that the edges are smooth and without puffs.

Be careful if you decide to whip the allowances. Cutting off benefits from silk fabric can be risky, since there may be holes in the fabric that will be visible even after the end of sewing. Decide whether you need to rebuff the allowances. If so, do so very carefully and slowly.

To rduce the holes, rub their nails on the back of the fabric. Wet the cloth, sprinkle it with a little water, and then iron it on a low to medium temperature mode.

Process the allowances. Silk is very easily frayed, and if fringing appears on the edges of seams, this will spoil the quality of your product. Prepare the allowances by marking or French seam.

To trim you need an overlock. It is the cleanest method because you can sew the edges of the fabric and leave them in the area of the marking.

You can use other finishing methods, like zigzag, narrow braid and sewing.

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