Sewing silk: the most feared

When you hear “silk fabric” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? I immediately think of lustrous, fine, sensuous, slippery kind. I think of charmeuse.

Silk charmeuse has a beautiful sheen and drape, it feels heavenly, and as all silks it is breathable, natural temperature regulator, hypoallergenic….So why won’t you sew it?

The most common fears associated with sewing silk are:

  • It is slippery
  • It frays
  • It gets damaged by sewing needle
  • It has to be hand washed… just to name a few

I must admit, silk should not be your first sewing project fabric. In my experience, silk has mood, silk has temper and generally a mind of it’s own. Often sewing it feels like trying to nail a jelly to a tree, but it doesn’t mean you can’t sew it and sew beautifully.

There are lots of silk fabrics to choose from and here are just some of them:

  • Chiffon
  • China Silk ( habutai, habotai, pongee)
  • Crepe De Chine
  • Charmeuse (crepe back silk satin)
  • Jacquard
  • Duppioni
  • Shantung….and others.

While each one of these fabrics has it’s own challenges, we are going to discuss sewing with the first four types.

Silk chiffon

– is what clouds are made of, no doubt. It is sheer, soft and has a beautiful drape. It is elegant and has a dull, soft finish.

silk chiffon


China silk or Haboutai

is a classic silk fabric that can be used for variety of projects. It is soft and supple and has a lustrous sheen. It is great for painting on.



Crepe De Chine

has a slightly crinkled texture and gentle, graceful drape. It is a bit heavier than Haboutai.




is a slightly muted crepe on one side and satin on the other. The look and feel of silk charmeuse is second to none.

Here are the most feared silk fabrics. In the next several blog posts I am going to give you some tips that will make your silk sewing much more enjoyable.

If there are certain things you’d like me to discuss, please leave a comment!


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Lena Merrin
Lena Merrin

A dressmaker of many years, I enjoy drafting patterns and create custom garments.

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