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7 Tips for Sewing Silk

Silk is a wonderful fabric that has a lot of great properties - it's very strong, luxurious, quickly drying and can be dyed into beautiful colors; silk garment adds classy, timeless and elegant touch to any wardrobe.

When it comes to sewing silk, it can be a bit tricky, so let's talk about 7 ways how you can get better results when working with this fabric.

This list of tips is created in partnership with Organ Needles - needle industry experts.

Organ Needles are one of the leading brands in needle industry, with over 100 years of expertise in needle making. Organ Needles have a wide range of products and you can find a right needle for any type of project that you have on hand - even for tricky materials like super stretch fabrics. I've been using Organ Needles for several years in all of my machines - industrial sewing machine, domestic sewing machine, embroidery machine and serger. It's easy to recommend them as I use them regularly and their needle quality speaks for itself!

Now let's talk about sewing silk!

7 tips for sewing silk

Tip No.1: use 'sandwich' method to cut silk.

Put silk fabric between two thin sheets of tissue paper, pin all layers together and cut. Pins an tissue paper will stabilize the silk, it won't move as much and will be much easier to cut, while also giving clean cut results!

Tip No.2: pre-wash silk to avoid water-stains.

Silk is prone to water-stains and with sewing process (especially steaming), the risk is even greater. One ways how to reduce the risk of getting water-stains is pre-washing the silk before sewing.

Tip No.3: use thin cloth to press silk.

Pressing silk is a bit tricky and you want to avoid putting iron directly onto silk. Instead, use thin cloth of fabric (I use organza) - put cloth on top of silk and continue pressing as usual. This will protect the silk, while also allowing you to press seams as you sew.

Tip No.4: test seams before sewing on garment.

Silk is not very forgiving to sewing or fitting mistakes, so it's best to test seam finishes you plan on using in your garment on small piece of silk before sewing them on your garment. Extra tip: if you want to test garment fit before cutting into silk, try making test garment from fake-silk. Fake silk is a fraction of the cost of real silk, but it will help you test garment fit and seam finished before cutting into that luxurious silk!

Test blouse I made from fake-silk
Final blouse I made from real silk

Tip No.5: use seam finished like French seam or rolled hem.

Finishes like these ones create very durable seams that does not fray, which is something you want when sewing with silk. Also, these finishes look good both from the inside and outside of the garment - silk is often see-through, so these are ideal finishes for creating beautiful garment!

Tip No.6: use Silk needle.

Silk is very lightweight, delicate fabric which requires special needle for sewing. Most common sewing needle is Universal needle, size 90 (which is most likely the needle you currently have installed on you sewing machine). This needle is great for sewing medium weight woven fabrics, that weight about 180-220g/m2. However, silk is much more lightweight (~40g/m2), so you need to sew it with a much thinner and sharper needle.

Comparison between Silk needle (left) and Universal needle, size 90 (right)

Notice how Silk needle is much more sharper and thinner than Universal needle, size 90:

Silk needle (left) vs Universal needle (right)

Using correct needle will ensure that your seams are nice looking and durable.

Organ Needles Silk needle for domestic sewing machines
Organ Needles needle for sewing silk on industrial sewing machine

Tip No.7: use extra thin, sharp pins.

Same as with sewing needles, you want to use very thin, sharp pins when pinning silk, so that the fabric is not damaged during pinning.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and if you would like to see these tips in action, I show them in this YouTube video:


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