silk, silk and more silk

I just adore silk! Didn’t you realise? Shimmering silk thread and silk fabric! Even my website back ground features one of my all time favourite silk fabrics. I fell in love with it many years ago when I worked in a fabric store. It just holds colour in a different way from other fabrics and I love the feel of it and also the fragrance. You take a look at some other fabrics and you will find about twenty choices of colour. However checkout silk, especially silk dupion and you have a never ending selection of colours which is one of the many reasons I love it so much.

Silk is a natural fabric made from protein fibres that come from the cocoons of insect larva, especially the mulberry silk worm. The method of cultivating the worms for silk fabric is called sericulture. The history of silk and how it has developed is fascinating, starting in China it came across the Silk Road to many countries. There are lots of myths surrounding how it was discovered all those years ago. Obviously there are many types of silk fabric, from sheer chiffon, mouseline and delicate tulle to heavy types like tussah, zibeline and curtain and furnishing fabrics. In researching silk I found out that you can even get bespoke silk wall coverings where silk fabric is paper backed! Now there is a thought. The names of the types of silk fabrics, like shatung, dupioni, habutai and charmeuse conjure up images of romance, luxury and opulence.

When I began to get interested in machine embroidery I soon discovered how great silk dupion (other names for it are dupioni, douppioni  and doupioni) is for embroidery. It is strong and forms a wonderful base for most designs. Having so much choice in colours means it is not difficult to find the perfect shade of fabric for any embroidery project. A while back I finally managed to find the perfect silk thread for machine embroidery. Although marginally thinner than the usual 40 wt thread, Tire Silk 50wt silk is a 3 ply thread and is perfect being available in over 150 colours. It is not for everyday embroidery but if you require a degree of luxury and some beautiful subtle colours this is what you should go for. I found that the difference of 10wt gives a simpler look to the designs that are stitched out in it.

 Obviously I have not used it for all my collections but so far I have used this silk thread successfully for designs from the Japanese Blossom collection.

I also had to test out a design from the Almond silk paisley collection in silk embroidery threads. Delightful results.

I have also stitched out designs from the Beatrice collection successfully. These subtle colours give the little orchids  in these designs a whole new appearance.

This is my Moses basket cover which has been embroidered with silk thread on silk dupion fabric. It features designs from Une Petit Princesse.

I hope you will take the opportunity to experiment with this luxurious thread, as I know you will not be disappointed. Because it costs more I would recommend light and open designs. The only draw back is that silk really does not wash. You cannot really wash it satisfactorily. I watched an interesting video recently on YouTube explaining that is shrinks slightly but the fabric looks damaged and creased to me, something I just could not bring myself to do to fabric that I love so much. If your project is going to be exposed to direct sunlight I would also advise against using silk thread or fabric as it will fade.

Happy silk embroidering from Hazel

About gracefulembroidery

I digitise machine embroidery designs specializing in Bridal, heirloom and Celtic work.
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4 Responses to silk, silk and more silk

  1. dalerick says:

    I had an antique fringed lamp that I contracted out to be draped in cream silk. The base of the shade was circular, with a run of eye shaped openings around it. I had some peach colored silk and, using 100 weight silk thread (as that was all I could find at that time), I carefully and slowly sewed out a repeating floral motif for each eye-shaped opening. The person who was putting the shade together, with lace trim and fringe, inserted the pieces. It was lovely. I’ll see if there is a way I can post a picture on the forum page with a sample of the lamp shade- it may encourage others to try something small first.

  2. Hazel, I very much appreciate the education you provide us. Especially regarding Silk. Do you have any suggestions for purchasing silk fabric and thread?

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