Silk's reputation as a difficult fabric isn't unfounded. It can be tricky to cut, stains easily and has a maddening tendency to fray.
But if you understand silk's challenges going in — and have a few pro tricks up your sleeve — you can easily master this fabric (rather than the other way around).
Get ready to up your fabric game!
1. Prewash A peculiarity of natural silk material is shrinkage by 5 - 10%, so the fabric must first be decated, that is, washed in a soap solution, dried and ironed.
2. Use Rotary Cutter Using a rotary cutter with a fresh blade will help keep your fabric from shifting. If you don't have a rotary cutter, your next best option is micro-serrated shears. Unlike the blades on regular dressmaker shears, the serrated blades grip the fabric and prevent it from slip-sliding away.
3. Use Weights The fabric has the ability to easily move, so it needs additional pressure to the surface. To keep your fabric from slipping and sliding all over the cutting board, use pattern weights to hold it down securely while you cut.
4. Avoid Permanent Pinholes Use the thinnest needles and pins with a sharp end, as well as thin polyester threads for basting and securing product elements. The length of the stitches of the connecting seams is 2.5 mm.
5. Start with a fresh new needle Silk fabrics tend to blunt machine needles, so in the process of sewing they need to be replaced with new ones when necessary. To reduce slipping, use a strip of tear-off stabilizer or tissue paper.
6. Press Carefully Ironing silk fabrics takes a bit of patience. Since some silks can't handle steam, always do a test first. To avoid making any permanent pressing mistakes, use a piece of silk organza as a pressing cloth; it will protect the fabric and (since it's sheer) allow you to see what you're doing and avoid missteps.
7. Finish or Hide Your Seams Because many silks are lightweight (and tend to fray; see above), pay special attention to your seams. Finish seam allowances with an overlocker or French seam.