Silk Series: Working With Silk Taffeta

Now that Della has introduced us to silk taffeta, I wanted to write a little bit more about it, and my experience prepping the fabric and sewing with it — this is the only silk I’ve had a chance to work with, in fact! Silk taffeta is a light-to-medium weight plain weave that uses heavier weft yarns with a fine warp yarn. It has a crisp drape that will hold pleats and tucks. It’s one of the more luxurious and expensive silks (around $20/yard and up), but also one of the easier ones to work with.

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The fat quarters had creases from folding that wouldn’t come out with my iron on the silk setting, so I decided to hand-wash them. I mentioned that to Della and she asked if I’d tried the hot setting on the iron. I just do what the iron tells me to! But I tried the hot setting with a couple I hadn’t washed and it did a much better job. The fabric was not damaged in the least. So the moral of the story is: Silk taffeta is not a delicate flower. It can take the heat.

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Post-wash and air-dry. I rolled the wet fabric in a towel to squeeze most of the water out. The crinkly texture was very nice and I would use it just like that for a different kind of project.

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The fabric after ironing on the silk setting. It was still a little crinkly, but again, in a pleasant way. I tried a higher setting and spritzing it with water and it came out almost as flat and shiny as new, but with a little more texture.

Every source I’ve read says to use a featherweight fusible interfacing with the fabric. I did and was glad, the stuff really does unravel like crazy. I pinned in the seam allowances to avoid holes, and had a little trouble with slipping. The fabric kept trying to escape under the guide on my quarter-inch seam foot, requiring a little vigilance on my part.

In addition to working with a new fabric, I wanted to try a sewing technique new to me — pintucks. Doing fabric manipulation techniques like this is a fabulous way to show off solids (patterned fabrics too, but solids especially). This pintuck pillow pattern on The Long Thread worked just fine with my fat-quarter-sized pieces; I think I ended up with nine pintucks instead of 12. And it fit the 16×16″ pillow form with room to spare.

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I sent to pillow off today to guest-star in della Q‘s booth (#202) at Quilt Market — stop by and say hi to it and Della!

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Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of silk or iridescence (I didn’t!), I highly recommend experimenting with silk taffeta sometime. I came to appreciate the shine and the changing texture, and how the pillow contrasts with my mostly-matte-cotton living room. For more inspiration, check out the patchwork pillow Laura at Spool made with della Q’s fat quarters. There’s also a pattern in Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts for a lovely washed silk quilt. I’m also thinking about clutch purses …

5 Comments

  1. Shannon says:

    Your pillow turned out beautifully! I wouldn’t have even considered doing something with taffeta, especially not a pillow, but now you’ve got me thinking I need to give this a try.

  2. Marissa says:

    oh that fabric is so beautiful

  3. Wow, that is lovely! Thanks for the silk festival online. :)

  4. Becca says:

    The pillow is beautiful! It makes me want to try something with pin tucks.

    Have you tried mixing the silk taffeta with cotton?

  5. Ellen says:

    Your pillow turned out beautifully! Thanks for linking.

    I really like the plaid taffeta and am thinking if I can get my 80s preppy formal dance memories out of my head, I’d like to try a project.