Some fabrics are just plain difficult to work with, silk being one of them. This post I will show you my simple tricks I use when designing with silk. I will focus on slippery and hard to handle silks such as Silk Charmeuse and Silk Chiffon type fabrics.
I try not to use any pins when working with silk. If you insist on using pins, use silk pins and ensure they are not dull. One dull pin can create a run in your fabric so fast! I like using silk pins by Clover as they glide through Silk Chiffon's and don’t leave a big hole.
Also, if you can only pin in the seam allowance area if possible. By pinning only in the seam allowance area, it will take away from any unwanted holes on the visible side of your garment.
Put away your fabric shears! I use a rotary cutter as it gives you a more precise cut. They less you need to fuss around with the fabric the cleaner cut you will get out of silk.
Again, I am not pinning my pattern onto the fabric. I place weights and carefully cut with a rotary cutter.
Machine sewing slippery silks can be a nightmare. After sewing several silk garments I have realized that machine backstitching can pucker your beautifully sewn seam even if your tension is perfect. Do not machine backstitch. Just sew your seam, press, and then hand stitch in your backstitches. This ensures you have a flat seam with no puckering.
When sewing a seam the two layers always find a way of sliding away from each other. To remedy this I hand baste a running stitch on the sew line prior to machine sewing it. I know your thinking this is an extra step you rather not do. But don’t be lazy! It is worth the feeling of a perfectly sewn seam.
Number one thing sewers forget to use is a press cloth when working with delicate fabrics. A press cloth is placed in between your garment and the iron to avoid direct heat contact. You can make your own press cloth by cutting out a rectangle piece of fabric made of sheer light weight cotton.
Silk is very sensitive to heat, when pressing a new seam try to use only the tip of the iron. This will avoid the raw edge of the seam allowance being permanently imprinted onto the right side of your garment.
Hope you have enjoyed these tips on working with slippery silks. If you would like to learn more come see me in my studio, or if you would like to share your tips on working with silk please post on our Facebook or Twitter feeds!
Photographed and written by Sheila Wong Studios