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. 


  1. Thanks Cheryl., wonderful information!

  2. Hi Cheryl,
    Your work is beautiful.If you ever teach a class in Israel, please send me advance notice. I have written you before and, thank you, you answered me. I am currently working on the two Torah Mantles that I have been asked to make. I am using quilt grade cotton, whit on white for Yom Kippur, cotton is what I am used to, and the project is going well. The first piece is quilted and the Tree of Life has been appliqued on. Someone will be making the two wooden pieces for the top and I will be covering each piece with matched quilting. I have really been stressing about how to attach the "wrap skirt" to the top, and then add a border strip around the top of the skirt. You mention Velcro. When you use Velcro, do you use industrial strength? Don't know if I can find that in Israel, but could send for it. Is is possible for you to describe or outline how you would position the Velcro, both on the top and on the skirt? Do you use a fabric safe glue to adhere the top quilt to the wood? I thought about taking it to a drapery maker to add large grommets around the pole holes, would the grommets enclose only the fabric openings, or is there a way to attach them to the fabric and wood together. I would be extremely appreciative for any advice you might give me.
    I have read your advice about working with silk and it is on my bucket list to try.
    Much of my work can be seen at At this moment, my Tree of Life has not been added. My email is:
    Thanking you in advance.


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