Silk Tips

Sewing with Silk

My tips for taming dupioni silk

Silk Dupioni is a beautiful fabric with a shimmer that adds elegance to any project. (It is imported from India, as opposed to its counterpart, silk shantung which is from China.) Somtimes it is woven with a different color silk thread in the warp and the weft. That gives it a beautiful iridescence that results in a fabric that changes color depending on its orientation. The downside to dupioni is that it has a fairly coarse weave. This results in a lot of fraying.  So here are my tips/tricks for working with this gorgeous fabric.

1.  Dupioni silk is a woven fabric.  It has no right or wrong side.

2. A quilted piece can be gently washed with a mild detergent.  It will shrink about 2.5%.

3. Use a NEW blade for your rotary cutter. It is so important that you give yourself the gift of a new blade. I know that so many of us use that blade until it just won't cut any more. You must have a sharp blade. If you don't use a sharp blade, the silk will fray and you will be frustrated and have silk strings all over the place.

4. If you want to make pieced quilts, the dupioni needs to be stabilized. I do this with a fusible interfacing. The interfacing should be as lightweight as possible. I cannot always find the interfacing that I am looking for so I have a tiered level of choice. I prefer a woven fusible or a fusible tricot interfacing. My next choice is a featherweight non-woven interfacing.

5. The trick to getting the fusible interfacing to adhere to the dupioni is steam, but not from your iron. I use a damp press cloth (really a piece of one of my quilting cottons). First place the silk on your ironing board. then place the interfacing on it, fusible side down and then lay the damp press cloth on top. Then with a hot dry iron, press. (You should hear a nice sizzle.) Hold it for 10 seconds and then move to another spot. Do not move the iron around in an ironing motion. This step is time consuming and tedious, but so important.

6. Fusible applique - My method for fusing silk is ever evolving. I was not happy with many of my combinations until now. I found this great new fusible web called Shades Soft Fuse. I have found that if I use the fusible web alone - WITHOUT INTERFACING - my appliques don't fray! (I have no affiliation with this company. I just love their product.)

7.  Dupioni is sensitive to the sun.  Prolonged sun exposure will result in fading.

8.  When finishing a silk piece, use spray basting to avoid holes from pin basting for machine quilting. 

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