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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 …