Sewing silk: layout, marking and cutting

After careful preparation (see previous posts here and here) your silk is now ready for cutting.
First of all, you have to find the grain and make sure it is straight. To do so, first of all straighten your selvages. I usually align my selvage with the edge of the cutting table. Very often the fabric is cut on an angle, but with very fine  and slippery fabrics it can be hard to notice. To make sure your cut edge is straight, pull a single thread out to make a “snag”. Then trim your fabric along this snag to get a perfectly straight edge.

Now to the layout

First of all, single layer only. I know, it doubles your work, but double layers can and will shift, ALWAYS. So save your fabric and your nerves and cut in single layer.
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Sewing silk: the preparation

So you’ve bought some silk and brought it home. Now what?

First of all, you have to prepare it. Just like all natural fabrics, silk will most likely shrink. On top of that it will probably bleed colour.


Washing silkWash your silk in warm (not hot) water using a special washing detergent for delicates. Hand washing is preferred, but machine washing on delicate cycle is also acceptable. Many silk purists claim that the best thing to wash silk in is shampoo. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you have, please share your experience.
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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.
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