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Sewing with Silk – Helpful Tips

Sometimes we get customers asking us questions about sewing with silk fabric. The main one seems to be, is it really difficult? It’s not as difficult as you may think. It does have some challenges and you may need a little patience. However with a bit of preparation and the correct tools, you can start sewing with out any hassles. So here are some tips to help you when sewing with silk.

Prewash Your Silk

The steam from the iron can cause watermarks, do prewash your silk fabric to avoid this. The prewash will prevent staining when you get to the seam pressing stage of your garment. The washing will also get any minor shrinkages or excess dye out of the way prior to sewing.

If you buy your silk fabric from Beckford Silk. All our silks are hand washable and if they are dyed or printed, they have already gone through a wash as part of the process. We recommend that you hand wash your fabric in tepid water and a mild detergent. Once rinsed, gently squeeze out the excess water (do not wring when wet) and lay flat between towels until you are ready to iron. Iron damp on the reverse with a fairly hot iron.

We do recommend all fabric is washed separately before use, this will allow any excess dye to be removed and shrinkage to occur before cutting.

Cutting Your Silk Fabric

Do use lots of weights on your fabric when going to cut out your pattern pieces. This will prevent lots of movement when you start cutting out. The silk can be slippery to use, so using a rotary cutter is an ideal option. A rotary cutter avoids lifting up the silk and therefore minimises the movement. Keeping your layers of fabric and pattern pieces together. Using tiny pegs can also be helpful to keep the layers together.

Needles and Pins

Using the right needles and pins when sewing with silk helps to make sure that they don’t pull on the fabric. An extra fine needle and silk pins are recommended. They are less likely to show pin hole marks and will glide through the silk fabric. In some silks pin and needle holes can show up. So do make sure you fit twice and sew once! – as unpicking will leave marks on the silk fabric. If you’re really worried then I would hand baste the seams first. I know it makes the process longer, but you may be thankful for it once you get to the machining stage.

Test Before You Sew

Testing a piece of the silk fabric before you sew will show you how your machine behaves with the silk. It allows you to check the tension and the stitch length needed for the weight of silk you are using. If your machine is skipping stitches then it may be time for a new needle. Layering tissue paper with silk when sewing is an option but it isn’t necessary.

Ironing Silk Fabric

All of the silks we sell here at Beckford Silk can stand the heat. But if you are worried then do a test and press without steam. Always press on the reverse of the silk fabric. Use a pressing cloth to help keep the silk clean and avoid directly pressing steam on to your fabric.

Using interfacing with silk is easy to do. You are able to use iron on interfacing, the glue doesn’t come through. On light silks do cover them with a pressing cloth before ironing, as organza and chiffon are prone to marks. If you are using interfacing with printed medium weight silk, the interfacing doesn’t change the colour of the print.

What Thread To Use

At Beckford Silk use ordinary Gütermann polyester threads. We don’t use pure silk thread as it tends to knot too easily and is very expensive. You can also use cotton thread to sew silk if you wanted to.

In conclusion, as long as you have done all the prep work before you start to sew. It will help a lot for when you get to the machining stage. The effort and patience will be worth it and you will end up with a stunning me -made silk creation to be proud of.

If you are looking for some inspiration for your next project – do visit our website to view our range of beautiful silk fabrics which are all printed and dyed in-house. www.beckfordsilk.co.uk

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