I sewed silk!

Pretty dress

… In about the teensiest, most tentative way possible.

Last summer, we bought the girls a couple of shirred-top, recycled-sari-silk dresses at a stall at a street fair. They’re not exactly well-made, but they’re extremely pretty. The only problem was that they were strapless. However, a fortuitous accident illustrating the inadvisability of cycling in a long, frilly silk skirt provided a fair bit of mangled hem that needed to be sliced off. Fortunately there’s plenty left to frill around in—and now I had fabric to spare to make some spaghetti straps. Which didn’t stop me from putting the project off pretty much all winter, but finally last night I was bumming around the sewing room, poking dispiritedly at the mounts of *stuff* and not really feeling able to start anything major. Tyo pointedly suggested that perhaps I should GET THAT DONE.

Silk + Bike rear-wheel = BAD

Well, I got them started, anyway.

After sorting through the mangled mass to find a bit that wasn’t too shredded and melted, I very gently ironed a portion and cut out two strips, each about 3 cm wide. The ironing was very much NOT facilitated by the fact that I didn’t use a press-cloth when block-fusing Armoweft interfacing onto Osiris’s coat; Armoweft is the nicest interfacing I’ve found yet, but the glue does seep through when you’re fusing with it. So my iron’s foot was covered with gunk. I do terrible things to my iron, honoured readers, but this was unusually bad even for me.

But, back to the silk. My strips were cut on the bias, more because the portion of the skirt I I’d had to cut off had been cut on the bias than because I wanted skinny little spaghetti straps. I actually think these straps turned out a bit too skinny.

Anyway, once I finally got them pressed, I pulled out a brand-new, super-fine needle (65/9) and sat down with some scraps to play with my tension and stitch length. I was too lazy short of time to look up what kind of a stitch length is good for bias silk, (I know Sunni and Sherry have both weighed in on the topic), but eventually went with a short stitch, but pulling while I stitched. Which makes the fabric scooch all over the place, but anyway. When I was done, I had straps. When not being pulled on, the straight stiches actually look a bit zig-zagged. Interesting.

Spaghettie straplets. Also, never feel bad about your shirring again!

I used the bobby pin method for turning the straps. I love this method WAY over using a cord on the inside of the tube, but really for slippery silk I think anything would’ve worked. These were the easiest little tubes to turn, ever. And once I ironed and stretched them to maximal skinniness, they didn’t look half bad, despite my wonky stitching and general incompetence.

Some careful handwheeling got them nicely attached in the front, and now all I have to do is stuff a child into the dress long enough to measure the length to attach them in the back.

And who knows, maybe I’ll get some actual *real* sewing done one of these days…

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “I sewed silk!

  1. Some lessons (ie. bike chains and flowy skirts) sadly have to be learned the hard way. I’m glad that there is still adequate flowy parts to the skirt.

    That’s the kind of sewing I would put off until the next season too.

  2. I thought I read the title of this post wrong! Good for you, I love sewing with silk it takes to the iron like a dream and it looks pretty. Can’t lose. Maybe. Okay, sometimes.

  3. My sister sent the girls some gorgeous feather light silk cloaks for Christmas and I have so far managed to stop them wearing them while biking, trampolining, sand-pitting etc. When the inevitable happens I’ll know to check back here and to Sunni and Sherry’s blogs for tips on handling the tricksy stuff.

    • Well, you’d probably have better luck with Sunni and Sherry (oops, I forgot to make those links!)… the main reason I even bothered posting this is that it’s the first time I’ve ever sewn anything in silk, ever! :)

  4. Awesome! I have silk in plastic that I’m afraid to touch because it was brought back from Thailand by my (now deceased) FIL. I keep thinking I’ll make something with it….someday…when I have a TNT. Maybe.

    Hey, you rescued an outfit. That is totally worthwhile sewing!

  5. I love armoweft too, but it’s such a pain to make sure the sticky doesn’t get on the iron or the ironing board cover… Though I do appreciate the stickiness and seepage when I press the final garment and it basically bonds to both layers of regular fabric…..

    Cute! It’s always satisfying to get those little projects out of the way.

  6. LinB

    Looks real purty! I invested in a device called the Fasturn some years ago — if you can find one in a catalog somewhere, as in Chlotilde, for example, it’s well worth the not-terrible expense to have an easy tube-turner always at hand. I recommend it since it seems you have entered the world of “Mama fix this” in a big, big way, lol.

  7. That is lovely fabric and a very big thank you for the bobby pin method of turning..easy!

  8. I am scared of spaghetti straps like no other. Those dresses look so lovely and floaty! Are you back from playing Kingdoms of Amalur?

  9. The bobby pin trick is one of my favourites too. Now that you have sewn silk…you;ll have to tackle a silk garment for yourself!

  10. Bravo for getting to the “to mend” pile. Mine only ever seems to grow.
    Silk IS lovely! And much less scary than you’d think to sew on. And sooooo nice to wear. (just in case you were thinking about silk for yourself…. I’m here to enable…;-)

  11. Yay, silk! I love it, and while I don’t *love* sewing it, I do so quite often. Seems like every other garment. Thanks so much for linking that bobby pin method… genius.

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