Tips on Sewing with Silk
Used for more than 5,000 years, silk is known as the 'queen of fabrics'. Beautiful, luxurious and wonderfully tactile, silk can be used to create a variety of delightful garments and elegant soft furnishings. In this edition of the Croft Mill blog, we'll offer some top tips on sewing using silk fabric as well as showcasing some of the silks we have available to purchase.
As a delicate, slippery fabric, silk can be difficult to sew with and it is recommended that you first have plenty of knowledge about and experience of sewing with easier fabrics like cotton and linen. With a little patience and attention to detail, you'll soon be creating silk garments like a pro!
It is essential to pre-wash your silk before attempting to sew with it. This process will get any shrinkage out of the way and will also help to prevent the silk being stained with water marks when it is pressed later on. Be sure to check the washing instructions and to keep different colours separate.
Cutting silk fabric is a delicate affair and should be done with the utmost care. The lightweight fabric is ideal for creating garments with lots of flow and movement but this same quality can make cutting difficult. You can make it easier by first stabilising the fabric using a starch spray or light spritz, which will help to reduce movement as you lay the silk out. Another option is to use two sheets of paper or other fabric to sandwich the silk, keeping it in place during the cutting process. Though you can use ordinary cutting shears, a sharp rotary cutter will deliver better results.
Regular pins can leave visible holes in the fabric. It is better to invest in specialised silk pins: these are finer, extra-long and sharper than ordinary pins.
Practice makes perfect! Before starting to work on a garment, take a small cut-off of the silk fabric and test it in your sewing machine. This will help to ensure that your needle, stitch length and tension are correct.
Keeping the edges of silk in place while sewing can be difficult but can be made easier by first hand-basting the fabric's seams. This may be a time-consuming process but will end up saving you time (and stress!) in the long run.
When it comes to stitch choice, a French seam is recommended when sewing silk fabrics. Silk is prone to fraying which, as well as looking unsightly, reduces the strength of the seams. With a French seam, any frayed edges will be enclosed within and thus out of sight.
It is much better to use cotton thread for your seams as opposed to silk thread, which is more suited to delicate embroidery work and other finishing touches. The strength of cotton will ensure your finished piece holds together well.
When pressing, avoid applying steam directly to silk fabric as this sometimes results in water marks. Cover the finished silk piece with a strong, sheer fabric that can withstand heat before pressing.
Here at Croft Mill, we have an eclectic collection of silk fabrics to choose from, including:
- Artist's Dress. This silk fabric is ultra-soft and so light that it might just float right away! Perfect for creating flowing summer dresses, the fabric is emblazoned with an exquisite floral design in complementary tones of blue and pink.
- For the Finer Things. Rendered in an attractive and versatile black colour, this silk chiffon could be used in a variety of ways to create stunning garments. The fabric is not completely flat but has a slightly crinkled appearance that is at once subtle and striking.
- Athena. Crafted from a divine blend of silk and wool, Athena is coloured a rich cream and boasts an exciting geometric weave.
Please browse the Croft Mill website to discover our complete collection of silk and silk blend fabrics.