Have you ever been afraid of sewing with a fabric for absolutely no reason? I was terrified of sewing with silk chiffon because I had heard that it was difficult to sew. Unfortunately, my fear of sewing with silk definitely outweighed by love of wearing it. Well, until I made this lovely Named Asaka Kimono top, that is. If I wanted this fabric/pattern combo to work I would need to immediately take a chill pill and get over my silly little fear.
Speaking of fears, one of my biggest fears in life (besides snakes) is public speaking. I'm sure there are a bunch of you out there who can relate. Back when I was in college I had to do quite a few presentations and I will never forget advice I was given for dealing with public speaking anxiety: be prepared. If you are prepared and know your topic inside and out then you will be fine. I think the same principle can be applied when sewing with a new fabric or a learning a new technique.
If you research the fabric, gather the appropriate supplies, and practice, then things are going to work out. I have compiled a list of links and tips that helped me learn, and even enjoy, the process of sewing with silk.
French Seams Are Your Friend
When working with sheer fabric there is a good chance that the seams will be visible when the garment is worn. French seams enclose the raw edges and provide a nice clean finish. Britex guest blogger Christine Haynes wrote this awesome step by step guide that is really helpful.
Stabilizing Spray is Your BFF
French seams may be your friend, but Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer is going to be your best friend forever. If you spray a lightweight fabric with this stabilizer it stiffens the fabric making it easier to sew and cut. Sullivan, I don't know who you are, but I love you. If you are local and frequent Britex Fabrics, you may want to check out Aleena's Stiffen Quik, available on the third floor in the notions department.
Use the Correct Needle
Using the wrong needle size is a deal breaker when sewing with a lightweight fabric, so make sure to start with a fresh one appropriate for your fabric. I used a sharp 70/10 needle and it worked great. Britex carries these needles on the third floor of their brick-and-mortar store, in the notions department.
Trace Pattern Pieces and Cut Fabric in One Layer
If there are any pattern pieces that need to be cut on the fold it may be better to trace them and then cut them on one layer of fabric. It will be easier to make sure everything stays on grain and doesn't shift around when you aren't looking.
Use Tracing Paper When Starting a Seam
Raise your hand if your sewing machine "eats" your fabric at the beginning of a seam. When using a lightweight fabric my machine can be guilty of this :/ If you traced your pattern pieces you should have a few scraps of tracing paper lying around, right? If you put a piece of it underneath your fabric at the start of a seam it won't be pulled down inside the machine. The tracing paper can be easily torn out when you are ready.
Lock Your Cats and Dogs Out of the Room While You Are Cutting
I can't tell you how many times my cats have ran into my sewing room and slid into my projects like they were sliding into home base. When I cut into the fabric for this kimono I made sure that they were not in the room.
So, are you ready to conquer silk yet? Britex carries a stunning selection of silk to choose from, including the beautiful vibrant orange fabric I'm wearing in the photos above. The fabric available online is only a fraction of what is available in the store. Be sure to check out their Customized Swatch Service for your next project. If you haven't sewn with silk before I hope that you will give it a shot. It's not as scary as it may seem and the results are worth the effort.