A New Persimmon Dress and Tips for Sewing with Silk

I bought a piece of silk a little over a year ago. It was an impulse buy. I was up with the baby in the middle of the night surfing the internet. Not something I recommend if you are on a budget. LOL. I fell in love with the fun pattern on the fabric - crazy wacky bright characters on yellow. What not to love. I knew I wanted to make a dress for Ania.


I used the Persimmon Dres pattern by Willow & Co. Hayley of Mouse House Creations is the designer. I had this fabric in mind for the dress as soon as I saw her first sketch. I eliminated the front panel. I simply folded the seam allowances on two pieces and taped them together. Easy Peasy.



Who wouldn't want a dress with a woman walking a pet pig.  On a separate note, I am trying to shoot my pictures in a manual setting.  Pretty exciting stuff, except almost all of my pictures are slightly out of focus. I tried to convince Ania to reshoot, and her response was, "You are kidding, right?" I left her be.


I am in love with this dress, it is so me. I wish I can convey somehow in pictures how wonderfully it drapes and flows. It almost has a fluid quality to it. It feels so, luscious and,well, silky. I just want to cuddle it.


We are also very practical here. Dry clean only, delicate fabric is totally an appropriate choice for making kids clothes. :) As much as I love the dress, making it wasn't as much fun. I had to take a deep deep breath a few times and just walk away. I have sewn with silk before (this dress), but I have never sewn with such delicate, hold-your-breath-or-it-will-warp type of silk. I should have done a thorough research and learned from others. But what fun is that. I did consult my bloggy BFF Mie and her advice was definitely helpful. I thought I would include what I have learned working with silk. It certainly is not an complete list, but maybe it would be helpful for a few of you throwing caution and common sense out of the window in the name of fashion. :)


1. My struggles began with cutting the pattern pieces. Silk is delicate and will stretch and warp if you breathe on it, never mind approach with scissors. After fighting it for a good half an hour, I had an idea of placing it on top of another fabric. I used an old sheet, placed my silk on top of it and cut a away. Speaking of cutting, you need to half super sharp scissors. Dull scissors just don't cut it. (Excuse the bad pun)

2. Use size 8 or 9 (60, 70) needle and make sure it's sharp.

3. While stitching, make sure not to pull the fabric, it stretches easily and you will end up with a wavy, unattractive seam.  Also, you pretty much have one chance to get it right. I learned quickly that silk doesn't like to be manipulated much. I do not advise to unpick seams, at least not more then once, it's a sure thing to see precious fabric deteriorate in front of your eyes. Increase your stitch length slightly as well.

4. Be careful when ironing. Use silk setting. Be very careful using a steam option in your iron. You don't want the fabric to get wet. If you have a iron that leaks I would avoid it all together. If water gets on silk, you might end up with water stains. Silk also loses it's fluid quality after getting wet. It simply doesn't drape as nicely.

5. Hemming silk is a different beast. I experimented with a few different methods and learned that the handkerchief seam works the best. Fold you fabric once (the fold needs to be very narrow) and stitch. Fold it again, and stitch. You will end up with two rows of stitches in the back, but I believe it's a small price to pay for a nice hem. When hemming, go slowly and meticulously, carefully feeding the fabric through. Do not pull. I was in a hurry to finish, and ended with the hem that was wavy and generally abysmal. Since there is only one chance with silk, I had to cut it off and start again. Good thing the dress was long enough for me to do it. 

That's about all I can think of. Garments made from silk are stunning and luxurious. But the project can also turn into a complete disaster in a hurry, and all depends how much TLC you are willing to give it. :) I am happy with the results, and might even tackle a dress made out of silk for myself. Might. :) Good luck and happy sewing!


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19 comments

  1. that fabric is too funny! i am sure my girls would love it. shooting in manual is definitely a huge step and a big learning curve, but you will be so thankful you did.

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  2. That fabric is super-fun and it must feel so lovely!
    After a couple failed projects in a row, I'm taking a break from anything but cotton. I had some super-slippery rayon give me a headache and the project ended up looking horrible. Going back to cotton was like returning to a long-lost friend! :)

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  3. I want a silk dress with a lady walking a pig on it! What a gorgeous dress! Thank you for sharing the tips too!

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  4. That is definitely the perfect pattern for that silk! And you are a brave momma - I don't think I'd have the patience for it :)
    Amy

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  5. Great advice! I sew with silk a lot , just yesterday and my pieces kept shifting as I cut. The sheet tip is priceless!

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  6. That fabric is so much fun!! I can tell how soft and drapey it is... Wearing it must be like heaven! :)

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  7. What a fun and cute dress! That fabric is really something. Thank you for the tips for silk. I read about using tissue paper when cutting, but I think sheets may be better for the scissors.

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  8. That fabric is amazing! I hate working with any fabrics like this-- it's especially nerve wracking when someone's paying you to do it! :S

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  9. I love it. I was just thinking the other day I don't if I will ever be brave enough to attempt silk.

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    1. Thank you! Go for it! The result is so rewarding!

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  10. Gorgeous dress and great tips! The fabric is amazing, the illustrations remind me of Scarf Lady in Sarah & Duck. I'm sure you have no idea what I'm going on about - it's a children's TV program over here :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura! So glad you like the dress. I need to google the show, I've never heard of it! :)

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  11. I love the Persimmon since I sewed this pattern last time and this one is beautiful !! Thank you for your tips ! This fabric is fantastic !

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  12. The dress is fantastic Olga! And that fabric is to die for :) Good job.

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    1. Thank you so much, Maria! So happy you liked it!

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  13. Soooo beautiful. Absolutely perfect. And I love your tips and tricks ;-))

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  14. Oh how cute. The dress is stunning.

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  15. What a quirky fabric print! I love the kind of "wait what is that on there? A woman walking a pig?!" Very cool! I too am not the biggest fan of sewing fine, flimsy, slippery fabrics even though I keep doing it for costumes or accessories - why can't there be a princess who likes cotton and denim?! Instead of sheer, slippery fabrics that make any sewer take a breath! Your tips are great - whenever I have to cut a pattern on a difficult fabric I now use a very small rotary cutter and come at it 90degs. very slowly with a very sharp blade. I had such great success with that for a sheer fabric I have started to use it for a lot of my pattern cutting. Great dress! (Btw I am visiting for the first time through Sewing Saturdays and am now a follower!)

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