I was asked to participate in JuleExpo now in November together with Det Store Symesterskapet. JuleExpo is a big fair for arts & crafts, among other things.It was great fun. Below you will find a summary of the demo I made there on the topic of sewing with silk fabrics.
I will probably give you a short recap of what else happened at the fair later, but for now I hope you will find this list of tricks for sewing with silk fabrics useful.
The basics about working with silks
All fabrics behave differently. You can’t use the same techniques when working with cotton as with wool for instance. This is definitely true when working with silks. Silks are considered “difficult” and so they are in a way, but with the right tips and tricks they are very much manageble. Her a short list of things you can do to make the slippery fabric behave.
- Pre-shrink your fabric. One way to do that is to wash it at the same setting you intend to use on the finished garment. Here is a way to do it in the tumble dryer.
- Iron your fabric before you start. Don’t use too hot iron, and very little or no steam. Otherwise you can stain your fabric. Like this:
- Sandwich your fabric between 2 sheets of pattern paper og or other paper large enough. This will make the silk easier to cut as it will not shift and slip away from your scissor in the same way.
- Iron your pattern before putting it on top of the paper/silk sanwich on a low setting without steam. The pattern will them become slightly electrostatically charged and will “glue” itself to the surface of the paper/silk. You can also do this to the silk if you need it to “behave better”.
- Use sharp extra thin pins. 0,5 or 0,4 mm in diameter. They will allow you to pin the fabric without snagging it.
- When cutting out your pattern use outwards tacks or tailor tacks. Don’t snip the fabric in case it unravels.
- Use a new sharp sewing needle. Either microtex needle 60 or universal needle 70. Never use ballpoint needles on woven silks.
Sewing needles 60/8 and 70/10 for silk
- Sew with high dencity of stitches. This will give a cleaner, nicer seam. I recommend 10-12 stitches per inch/ 4-5 stitches pr 1 cm.
Denser stitches give a nicer seam
- Newer sew over your pins. Pin in the same direction as the seam, and take away the pins before they reach the sewing foot. In very slippery fabrics it’s well worth the time it takes to hand baste difficult pieces to awoid them slipping.
- If you have it, use a walking foot. This will make sure the two layers won’t slip appart too much.
Walking foot to help the fabric along
- Lower the pressure setting on the foot to work with thinner fabrics.
- Press you seams with low or no steam on the iron. Always iron in the same direction as you sewed. First press the seam flat, then open up the seam allowance and press gently on the wrong side of the fabric, then on the right side.
- For best result you should use a pressing cloth -silk organza press cloths gives the absolute best result.
If you want to read some more about the subject you have some of the sources I have used below.
– Colleteri about prewashing of fabrics.