Oliver + S

Prewashing silk?

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • LINK
    Emily @Emily

    I’m sewing two flower girl dresses for a wedding in August. The main body of the fabric is silk taffeta, and there is an overlay on the skirt of silk chiffon. Both of these fabrics are white. I’m also doing a sash in tiffany blue silk shantung.

    Question: Should/can I prewash any of these? In my ideal world, my plan is to dye the dress after the wedding so that my daughter can continue to wear it as a party dress. Does anyone have experience with this?

    From what I’ve been able to find on the internet, it seems as though the chiffon might shrink, and the taffeta will lose some body. If I don’t pre-wash, then put the completed dress in water to dye it, what will happen?

    Tamara @justsewit

    I personally wouldn’t recommend washing silk in the normal washing machine. I have an example of what silk can do – take the crispiness away (a little flowergirl’s dress pintucked with bullion roses my niece used at our wedding and her mum washed it!)

    I would get it drycleaned. Especially since you are using a combination of silks. If you know a place that does garments like wedding gowns you will have a good job done.

    Because silk is a natural fibre, I’m assuming it will take well to the dye but I have no experience with dying silk so I couldn’t really advise you on this one. Nice idea though.

    Nicole @motherof5

    I do pre-wash silk,in my machine,on a gentle cycle,with shampoo and conditioner.

    It does lose some of the stiffness and a little lustre,but if you dry it away from moving air,I find it perfectly acceptable.

    It all depends on how often you use the garment,I tend to sew things that are to be worn regularly.

    Of course heirloom sewing may be quite different,it all depends on what you are after. You could always wash a test piece and see if you are happy with the result?

    I don’t have any experience home dying silk,but I have had a skirt dyed at the cleaners.

    I have washed this dress a good dozen times,it presses up beautifully http://www.flickr.com/photos/motherof5/5675103279/

    Violaisabelle @Violaisabelle

    Like Nicole, I also pre-wash my silk. I have a front loading machine and use a very gentle cycle. I also hang dry, I do not put it in the dryer. My silk taffeta looses very little stiffness, where as the dupioni looses a bit more. My chiffon might shrink, but I don’t notice a difference in the soft drape. A front loading machine is much gentler on clothes than top loading with agitators. I strongly suspect this makes a big difference.

    We had a discussion on this subject in this thread here: https://oliverands.com/forums/topic.php?id=564. If you read through it, you will find my thoughts on pre-washing silks on page two. On page three, you will see a follow up with one of the members who washed her silk.

    Have fun making the dress with such pretty fabrics. 🙂


    Sarvi @Sarvi

    For the baby, I machine washed and dried her wool and silk. I somewhat hammered it on purpose to see what would happen first. Yes, it definitely changes it. I found the results were fabrics with qualities I liked, and thought would be suitable for the garment I was making.

    She has a little pair of trousers in a different wool that was able to take a little of this treatment but not a ton. If she hadn’t outgrown them first I’d have switched to handwashing. I would say it depends not only on the fiber but also on the fabric. Test wash a bit, maybe?

    Emily @Emily

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I ended up testing a bunch of swatches and decided to cut the dresses with a little bit of ease to accomodate the shrink, but not to pre-wash before sewing. The dresses turned out beautifully – not exactly my personal taste, but the bride wanted them to look “like little cupcakes!” which I felt like I accomplished. More importantly, the girls were comfortable in the August heat (unlike the bridesmaids in our poly-satin monstrosities) and they loved twirling in the dresses, especially after the crinolines came off after the ceremony.

    I’ve put some pictures up on flickr, if you’d like to see:

    Eleanor at wedding

    Eleanor and Sophia at wedding

    Eleanor at Wedding again


    Nicole @motherof5


Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


Unless otherwise credited, all work on this blog is © Liesl + Co., Inc, 2008-2024. You are welcome to link to this blog, but please ask permission before using any text or images.