Sewing with Silk!

This month, all our silk and lace is 15% off. Intimidated by sewing with silk? You’re not alone! Here are our best tips for sewing with silk—or any slippery, slinky fabric!

Use a Liquid Stabilizer

Liquid stabilizer can make a huge difference when cutting and sewing with a slippery fabric. We love Palmer/Pletsch Perfect Sew, which is a thick gel that will stiffen your fabric right up, making it much easier to cut and sew! We found that on larger cuts of fabric, it helps to dilute it just slightly to make the liquid easier to spread. Then you simply allow it to dry, and then you can cut, press, and sew like normal. This silk took on the hand of a lightweight cotton after using the stabilizer—the slipperiness of the silk was gone until the next washing!

Note: Some silks are dry-clean only, which means you don’t want to slather on a liquid stabilizer. Test a small patch first to see. We cut a square of this silk and tested its response to water and the stabilizer before doing the entire yardage. 

Tissue Paper is Your Friend!

 

 

Another way to stabilize your fabric for cutting and sewing is to use tissue paper. Sandwich your silk between two sheets of tissue paper with your pattern on top and pin/cut as you normally would. The tissue keeps your fabric from sliding around while cutting.

Tissue paper can also be used while sewing for the same purpose. You can use the paper on both sides of your fabric, or just underneath it. You can also use it on the entire length of your seam or just to get it started, depending on how slippery your fabric is. Since my fabric had been stabilized already, I just used tissue paper at the top of the seam to prevent it from getting sucked in by the feed dogs. Once you’re done stitching, gently tear the paper away.

The Right Tools for the Job

 

There are several ways to improve your chances of success when sewing with silk, and of course we’re always preaching about using the right tools for the job!

  • Needles: Fine silk requires a thin, sharp needle. Look for size 60 or 70 Microtex needles (sometimes called Sharps), which will help ensure you don’t snag your beautiful fabric.
  • Pins: Use fine, sharp pins made especially for silk. These glass-head pins are our favorite!
  • Make sure your scissors or rotary cutter are extra sharp (seeing a pattern here?).
  • Use the walking foot on your machine if you have one. 

Stitching Tips

 

A few tips and techniques when you’re at your sewing machine:

  • Stay stitch before sewing your seams, especially along curves like necklines and armholes.
  • Shorten your stitch length to 1.5 or 2.
  • Don’t back stitch or use the “fix” feature on your machine. Instead, leave long tail threads and tie a knot.

Have you been brave enough to sew with silk? Let us know how it went in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Sewing with Silk!

  1. Sherri says:

    Thank you for all this wonderful infor. Are there more instructions on the gel stabilizer concerning the gel to water ratio? Did you brush it on or did you dip the fabric in a tub?

    • jane says:

      Hi Sherri! The stabilizer actually says there’s no need to dilute, but I found that it can be hard to spread evenly without a little bit of water. I did probably a 2:1 ratio (stabilizer to water) and then swished the fabric around in a tub. If the fabric isn’t stiff enough after it dries I’d recommend doing a second round. Hope this helps — it’s all a lot of trial and error!
      Jane

    • jane says:

      Hi Lorrie! I’ve been using the polyester sew-all thread, but if your silk is really lightweight you may want to use a finer thread, either silk or cotton.
      🙂
      Jane

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