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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pre-treating silk

I sewed pretty hard yesterday and my dress for tonight is done as far as the shell goes but I have the lining and the detail work to do today, plus the "wrap." I worked a little on that late last night and basically it is a 1.5 yards of matching chiffon with 6" borders of silk sewn on at each end. All I could think of at this late date. I am a bit annoyed I have to cover up my arms as I don't think it will look all that great with this dress, but I wasn't going to start looking for a new pattern and a summer dress with long sleeves seemed odd too. However I realize I haven't seen HRH's arms ever in photos so I guess fair's fair and it's her event.

I am pretty pleased with the dress so far, no time to underline as I had hoped. When I underline which I like to do with dress weight silks, I have to hand baste the underlining to each piece or it warps and that is just out of the question right now, particularly with so many pattern pieces.

What I have taken the time to do though is pre-treat the fabric.

Sewing with dupioni is great in most ways. Presses well, sticks to itself without skidding around, unlike its sister from hell silk chiffon.

However it water spots.

To my mind a fabric that stains from just water is absolutely not reasonable. Lipstick, ballpoint pen, BBQ sauce, OK. But water? You should be able to get away with water.

This means you have to be far more careful than you want to be during construction, use a dry iron and cope with the creases that you may iron in by mistake but can't deal with because you can't use steam. It also means that you acquire stains from doing really innocent things like shaking your wet hands in the lady's washroom after you wash them, or laughing really hard while you are drinking the toast when the dumb friend from high school that no one should ever asked to MC at the wedding starts telling stories about the girl before this one.

Not to mention what happens when you try to rescue your silk dress from that little bit of seafood sauce, mayo, or satay whatever with just a tiny bit of water on the corner of a washcloth and you might get the stain but you have also created a large water mark that means the drycleaner is only going to yell at you for trying to take the matter in your own hands.

You can avoid all of this by making your silk water bullet proof and this is how you do it, with only a slight sacrifice to the crisp hand of the fabric.

Here is what I do:

1. Lay your fabric folded to fit the bottom of the bathtub and turn on the shower with cool water. You don't want to soak this through or agitate it just get it all wet.
2. Put the wet fabric in the washing machine at the end of the spin cycle to shake all the excess water out of it.
3. Set your iron for wool, a dry iron and put a sheet on the floor under the ironing board.
4. Iron your fabric dry. This will only take a minute, it dries so fast. I would use a pressing cloth maybe for dark fabric but usually don't bother. 

Once you have done this you can sew away in peace. If you need to iron out a crease daub the area lightly with a damp cloth and press away. Water marks will no longer show on this fabric.

OK, back down to the sewing room and onto the lining. I don't like the look of the lining instructions and the potential to screw this up still remains.

I have to get this done by noon to get the rest of my ready, nails and all, and to give me enough time to get some fine panty hose bought.

Not really my favourite way to sew, but let's see how it goes.

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