Blouseweight Silks (not sheer)
Is there any fabric more luxurious than silk? This beautiful fiber has a rich history; at one time, silk traders would demonstrate its flexibility by passing the finely woven silk fabric through the (moderately sized) eye of a needle. While supple and soft, silk is strong enough for parachutes! A medium weight silk, or blouse weight silk, is a pleasure to sew. The softness of this fabric pairs well with feminine styling, and will create a garment that will last for many years in your wardrobe.
Drycleaning is recommended in most cases. If you'd like to be able to handwash the finished garment, test a sample of the fabric by handwashing in cool water and a drop of baby shampoo. Lay flat to dry, then gently press out the wrinkles with an iron. If you like the results, pretreat the entire yardage in the same manner before cutting out the fabric.
Sharp needles, size 70/10, are good for these finely woven fabrics. If you prefer, you may use a Microtex needle in the same size. Silk thread is a luxurious option for sewing silk fabrics; if you cannot find silk thread, use cotton embroidery thread (2-ply), or cotton/wrapped polyester thread.
With silks, you have a variety of options for seams and finishes. If you are sewing a primarily straight grain garment, use a straight stitch, size 2.0. If you cut the garment on the bias, or if the seams are primarily on the bias (such as on a flared skirt), use a narrow zigzag, (2.0 length, 1.5 width) for construction. Seam finishes are prettiest in silks when enclosed; use French or fell seams for the most professional appearance. If you prefer to use a serger, use a 2-thread overlock stitch for the least bulky finish. Hems can be topstitched by machine or hand blind-stitched. A hand rolled hem in silk blouse fabric is a beautiful option.
The lighter the interfacing, the better the results when it comes to silk. Use a fusible specifically marketed for silks (like SilkWeight) or a fine tricot fusible. My personal preference for these fabrics is to use a layer of the same silk fabric for interfacing. It is always the right weight, it will behave and wear the same as the outer fabric, and it matches!
Blouses, shirts, draped garments, softly flounced skirts, eveningwear, quilted outerwear, capes and shrugs, scarves.
Two layers of blouse weight silk with cotton flannel (prewashed) sandwiched between can be quilted to make a luxurious fabric for coats or jackets. French "handsewing" by machine techniques work well with these fabrics. Lace, entredeux, and handloomed trims are beautiful when paired with blouseweight silks.
ALWAYS use a press cloth when pressing silks. My favorite press cloth is a scrap of ivory silk organza; you can see through it, and it can withstand almost any heat from an iron.