Who doesn’t love the look, the feel, and the drape of silk? While it’s clearly leagues above its polyester counterparts, silk can still be a bit of a challenge to work with. Luckily, Mood is here to help. Below are some tips to help you sew silk without the hassle. Check out Mood’s huge selection of colorful silks to make your new gorgeous look!
Purchase Materials Used Below:
All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise stated. See chart below for sizing specifications. Note, this specific pattern is available up to a size 30.
1. Pre-Washing Fabric
By pre-washing your fabric, you will avoid watermarks from the steam of the iron. Some silks may be dry clean only, simply use baby soap and cold water and hang dry. (Test on a scrap piece of fabric before washing your entire yardage)
2. Prepping the Fabric for Cutting
When you lay your fabric out, make sure the selvages match. Since the fabric can slip everywhere, pin the selvage edges.
3. Cutting the Fabric
Most silks are lightweight, meaning they are very slippery to cut. One method is to use weights and super sharp scissors to cut out your pattern. Another method is to put paper underneath or in between the fabric to help with cutting. The most common cutting method used is a rotary cutter. Before you cut out your silk fabric using the rotary cutter method, try cutting it out by using a cheap slippery polyester fabric to get more comfortable with it. Keep in mind the sharper the blade, the better it is for cutting.
4. Pinning the Fabric
Pinning is a great idea, but most pins will leave tiny holes in silks. Use silk pins and pin on the seam allowance to avoid seeing holes in the actual garment.
5. Finding the Right Needle
When sewing it is important to have the right needle. You want to use a small needle size like 60/8, for small; 70/10 for medium weight. Schmetz or Microtex are good brands to use, but make sure the needle is suited for your machine before purchasing.
6. Sewing the Fabric
The stitch length will vary depending on the thickness of the silk. For a thinner silk, use a smaller stitch around 1.5-2. For a thicker silk, use a 2-2.5 stitch. Test on a scrap piece of fabric before stitching on your actual fabric. The best way to attach the seams for silk garments is by using French seams. If your presser foot isn’t working on your silk, try using a Teflon foot or a plastic foot.
7. Plate Sucking Fabric into the Machine?
To prevent this from happening, sew with pattern paper or tissue paper. After you sew your seam just rip the paper right off. Another option is to purchase a single needle base plate, which is to be used only for straight stitching. By switching out the plate the smaller hole helps prevent the fabric from going through it.
8. Ironing Silk Fabrics
When ironing silks, some can handle a lot of heat and some can’t. The best idea is to do a test sample and press with and without steam. The best method for pressing is to press from the back of the fabric. Another method is using a scrap piece of muslin or cotton as a press cloth using a mild heat.
Some types of silks will fray more than others. One option is to fuse small strips of interfacing on the edges. Another option would be to serge the edges right after the pattern pieces are cut. To finish the seams another way would be using the French seam or Hong Kong seam.
10. Applying Sequins/Beads
If you want to add some pizzazz to your garments like sequins or beads, make sure you interface the back of the area you want to be covered. By interfacing that one area, it will help strengthen the fabric prevent the fabric from falling apart. When selecting the interfacing make sure it’s for silk weight fabrics, not shirting weight.
You can use a rolled hemming foot or hand sew and roll. I suggest testing on several to make sure you have a nice handle on it. If you want to do a wide hem, hand baste and then hand sew it.
Use cotton thread when sewing silk. If you use a silk thread, it won’t keep the garment intact as it’s typically meant for embellishments. If you are on a time crunch and can’t get to the store to buy cotton thread, polyester thread is another alternative method as well.
13. Applying Buttonholes
When sewing buttonholes, place a piece of tissue paper on the wrong side of your garment. Why do this? It helps prevent the thread from pulling into your machine. After you are done, place silk pins at the ends of the buttonhole. Grab your seam ripper and cut the buttonhole open from pin to pin. If there are loose threads coming out, trim those with your small snips. Lastly, rip away the tissue paper.
14. Prepping the Machine Before Sewing
Make sure there is no oil or dirt. I would wipe your machine off with either a damp cloth or scrap piece of fabric. You want to ensure that your fabric won’t be stained by anything while you are sewing your project. For more info about maintaining your sewing machine, check out this downloadable checklist and guide!