Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Working With Silk

As much as I enjoy working with silk, it does have its challenges. It is thin and slippery and, as you can see in the above photo...the edges fray. The key to success in working with this fine fabric is to downsize your tools to match. Silk requires very sharp pins and needles. A size 70/10 (or smaller)Microtex needle works well for stitching as it has a very sharp point. I buy special silk pins which have a finer gauge than normally used for sewing. It is also important to use your sharpest scissors and insert a fresh blade in your rotary cutter as the silk pulls very easily on a dull blade. In the past I always used 100 weight silk thread but lately I have found Wonderful's Invisifil thread works very well at a fraction of the cost. To prevent some of the fraying and sliding around, I use an ultra light, featherweight fusible interfacing. It's about as thick as gossamer, giving the silk a bit of body without taking away from the wonderful hand of the fabric. Here you see it ironed on the back of a piece of dupioni silk which I am using in my latest antependium. On the back of the interfacing, I have ironed my freezer paper pattern which I drew last week. I wanted to do turned edge applique and was a little unsure how this would work as the silk will not take starch nor very high heat. I found that having the interfacing in place made all the difference in the world and the edges turned nicely.
Onto this large background I will be adding leaf shapes, to make a Tree Of Life. The antependium uses all silk - dupioni, silk habatai and a bit of noile. I drew the heart shaped leaves onto freezer paper and cut the fabric 1/4" larger all around. Because the leaves are not very large, it was easy to place the smooth side of the freezer paper next to the back of the fabric, thus leaving the shiny (sticky) side up. It was an easy job to iron the edges over.





Each leaf got a good pressing (with a press cloth so as not to scorch the silk) and was left to cool overnight. The freezer paper peeled off easily the next day and the creased edges stayed sharp.

When I arranged the leaves in a circle, I used pins very sparingly, and always near the edges. Even very fine pins can sometimes leave a hole which stays. (The funny reflection in this pot lid is a red and blue log cabin quilt which hangs over the work area!)

I used a close blind stitch to secure the edges, and added a bit of detail with free motion stitching.

I am almost finished three of the six commissioned antependiums. After they are presented publicly to the congregation, I will show them here. The first one will be soon, on Easter Sunday.

3 comments:

  1. Your post couldn't have been more timely, Karen. Although the end result won't be nearly as dramatic as your work, I am building a cummerbund in a special tartan for my son's formal uniform. I have some beautiful silk my husband brought from Japan for me and thought it might make a perfect lining. I was told that the garment would be cooler to wear if I kept the fabrics all natural.) Because I would like to hand embroider my son's monogram to the lining, I wondered about interfacing it and you just confirmed my suspicions. Look forward to seeing your commissions and thank you for the tips.

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  2. Oooooooooh, probably won't be using silk; but, gee I appreciate the talent.

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  3. The colors look beautiful. Looking forward to seeing all of your finished works later. Thanks for the tips.

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