Oliver + S

Sewing Library Dress with vintage silk

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    Allison @allieonline

    Hi everyone,

    I came across two packages of vintage silk at an antique shop–they’re packaged in their original plastic envelope and labeled “Silk of Siam.” They say that they were woven in Thailand and have an importer’s name on them. I’m not sure how old it is, but I believe it’s in good condition–just a bit of fraying and no smell. I still need to wash it (there are directions on the packaging!)

    I’d like to make a Library Dress out of it for a special occasion but I have some questions. I would like to make the version without a collar.

    First, is it an appropriate fabric? The silk doesn’t say if it’s dupioni or shantung on the packaging. Could I use either?

    Should I use the silk for the facing as well?

    Finally, I’ve never sewn with silk before! Is there any advice you could give me before I try to tackle this, particularly with the Library Dress?

    Thank you all so much!

    Reeni @Reeni

    I have not sewn this pattern but have had the fortune (or foolhardiness?) to sew with silk before. Get good fine pins and use a lot of pattern weights because it is slippery. If the silk is handkerchief weight/sheer you’ll need good quality lining that will take the same washing as the silk and keeps the fluid quality. some nice sharp needles for hand-basting as well as silk thread, and your finished project will last years and years.
    (Note that not all silk is colorfast — you may have to commit to handwashing the dress, but it could be worse fate for a destined heirloom.)

    Nicole @motherof5

    Another that has not sewn the Library dress but I have made many outfit from for my children.
    Wedding Day!

    I adore sewing the stiffer silks, they are easy to handle and sew well.

    First up, decide how you want to launder your garment, pre-wash and stick to that method. If you chose to hand wash ( wash in a shampoo solution and rinse in a conditioner solution) you will lose a little lustre and stiffness but it will be cheaper to maintain. Try washing a sample of the fabric to see if you find the result pleasing.
    Mixing some salt with the water may help with colour fastness.

    Silk can fray, so it may be worth cutting each piece as you intend to sew it.

    You can sew all your finishes as a normal woven but hand sewing looks amazing and it worth the extra effort.
    Off to a Wedding with Oliver + S

    Definitely use the silk for the facing with a good quality interfacing. Under stitching is also helpful as it can prevent fray.

    Good luck, I look forward to seeing what you make.

    mkhs @mkhs

    My grandmother had a lot of Thai silk around, and it has a lovely hand, not slippery at all. Definitely do a wash before you sew. I’d even take a small piece and subject it to a bit of abuse– I’ve had old silk fall apart on me before. It seems to be fragile when wet, especially.

    A good trick I learned to preserve precious fabrics and those that really fray is to run a zigzag stitch along the cut edges before washing.

    Good luck!!

    Tamara @justsewit

    I made a little library dress from silk dupion and I did the version with the collar. I also have a pink silk one waiting to be sewn up.

    It wouldnt matter where the silk came from or if it were dupion or Thai. It works beautifully with the pattern.

    You may have to take care with laundering.

    I’m not sure if I took a photo of the dress I made. Will have to take a look and upload one for you to see. As for facings, yes it would be fine but if you didnt want to use the main fabric, a light cotton would work equally well, something like a voile or batiste.

    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by Tamara.
    Tamara @justsewit
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