The Blog of The Bride of Sesshomaru


Welcome to my sewing, historical reenactment, and CosPlay blog! Here on this blog you will find all of my random thoughts about sewing, the SCA, manga, anime, CosPlay, costume making, embroidery, sewing historically accurate Japanese costumes, and my fandom of Lord Sesshomaru whom I CrossPlay as.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sewing With Silk


While I wait for my bolts of silk to arrive, I have decided to write about sewing with silk. This info once I finish compiling it will become my next Squidoo lens: Sewing with Silk.

Characteristics of Silk:

The Advantages:

    Silk is the most luxurious fiber.

    Silk is very comfortable to wear: warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is lightweight, resilient, and elastic. It resists wrinkling and holds it's shape well.

    Silk has less static build up than other fibers. It absorbs moister well and dries quickly. It does not pill or soil easily, and is resistant to mildew.

    Cultivated silk dyes and prints well.

    Silk absorbs harmful UV rays, making it a natural sunblock protecting your skin from the sun.

The Drawbacks:

    Silk is a highly temperamental fabric requiring great care. For the average person, silk requires more care and attention than they are going to want to invest in it.

    Silk is very sensitive to chemicals and gasses. It can not be stored in plastic boxes or bags, as the gasses given off by the plastic will deteriorate the fiber.

    Silk is easily damaged by perspiration and body oils and thus should not be worn against the skin. Cotton undergarments are recommended to be worn under silk to draw body oils away from the silk.

    Silk is sensitive to climate changes, excessive heat especially, will cause yellowing of light colored silks.

    Silk fabric often shrinks.

    Silk is easily damaged by most cleaning chemicals and should be carefully dry cleaned, or hand washed with mild soap: strong soaps, most detergents, and all acids and alkalies, and chlorine bleach will all cause serious and irreversible damage to silk and should never be used to clean it.

    Silk is susceptible to moths and insects, and should be stored in a cedar chest to prevent damage.

    Silk, once molded, is very difficult to repair.

    Silk must be stored in wood: either folded in a chest or hung in a freestanding armoire. It should never be stored hanging with other cloths in your closet or folded up in your dresser drawers. Silk must be stored in it own special chest or cabinet, only with other silk items.

    Silk is very sensitive to sunlight, and should never be stored near a window.

    Silk must be taken out of storage, unfolded, and hung out to air at least once every 2 or 3 months, if not more often. Silk requires air circulation to keep it from deteriorating with age.

    Ironing and pressing silk should be done with extreme care. Use a cold iron or only the lowest settings when pressing silk, and only press it if absolutely necessary.

    Silk changes color with age. Your white silk today, will be ivory a few years from now, and yellow a few years after that. This is natural and is not considered a defect, but it will affect what you make out of silk. For example you would not want to use it to make a white wedding gown, if you planned on passing this gown down to your daughters and granddaughters, as it would have long since lost it's white color before they were old enough to wear it.

    Some types of silk are very slippery, making them difficult to cut, sew, or even wear.

    Most silks slip and pull badly at seamlines. Most silk garments will require you to carefully rip out seams and completely restitch the garment once every year or so, in order to keep the garment functional. Traditionally silk garments are taken apart each time they require cleaning and each part cleaned separately, than the garment is resewn after each cleaning.

The Variances:

    Silk can be used to make cloth of all weights, from thin and very sheer to soft, supple, and drapeable, to stiff and bouffant, to very think and heavy.

    Silks can be woven to an infinite variety of textures, from shinny, slippery, and high luster, to soft fuzzy naps, to intricate woven patterns, to heavy nubby weaves.

Silk Sewing Checklist:

Machine Needles:

    Universal H-point
    Red Band
    sizes 60/8 to 90/14, depending on fabric weight
    60/8 or 70/10 for lightweight silks

Machine Setting:

    stitch length: 12-15 per inch (1.75 - 2 mm)
    tension: loosely balanced

Sewing Machine Equipment:

    straight stitch
    roller foot

Hand Sewing Needles:

    sizes 5 to 10


Topstitching Thread:

    silk (size A or D)

Basting Thread:

    basting cotton
    silk (size A)

Marking Techniques:

    all types except wax
    clips or tailor tacks recommended
    tailor's chalk
    dressmakers chalk pencils
    soap sliver
    temporary marking pens
    wheel and tracing carbon (wax-free only)
    never use wax on silk


    French seams
    false French seams
    standing fell
    flat fell
    top stitched
    tissue stitched
    Hong Kong seam


    hand rolled (recommended)
    machine rolled
    hemmer rolled
    lettuce edge
    mock merrow
    handkerchief hem

Seam and Hem Finishes:

    single-ply (turned and stitched)
    hand overcast
    zig zag
    multi zig zag
    pinked and stitched
    Hong Kong finished

Edge Finishes:

    self fabric facings
    bias bindings (recommended)


    always pre-shrink

    self fabric
    silk organza
    cotton organdy
    prima cotton
    knit fusibles
    light weight woven fusibles
    light weight non-woven fusibles
    sew in interfacing


    always pre-shrink

    lightweight cotton
    lightweight silk
    only used on kimonos, jackets, coats, and pants, or when opaqueness is needed under sheers


    lightweight cotton
    lightweight silk
    crepe de chine
    China silk
    silk broadcloth

    only used on kimonos, jackets, coats, and pants, or when opaqueness is needed under sheers

    avoid using synthetic fabrics


    silk garments generally do not have pockets

    patch pockets
    welted pockets
    side seam pockets


    use lightweight zippers and buttons that are not heavy, otherwise fabric will sag under the weight

    good quality buttons look better than cheap plastic buttons against very expensive silk

    use embroidery thread for button holes

    button loops usually need to be corded

    avoid stiff or heavy closures and trims

Special Equipment:

    sewing with silk doesn't generally require any special equipment, though you should take you time and sew each step very slowly, constantly checking to be certain that the two pieces of fabric are not slipping

What's your take on this? I'd love to hear what you have to say about this post. Leave a comment and share your views!


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