Silk Dupioni
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Silk dupioni

    Silk is often called the "queen of fabrics", and for good reason. Nothing looks, feels, or performs like silk! Dupioni silk is made from "twin" cocoons, naturally bonded together. The slight bumps, or "slubs" in the fabric are evidence of this fiber bonding in nature. Dupioni silk is very easy to sew. It is a stable, crisp fabric, does not creep or crawl while sewing, and it is perfect for many creative uses. The colors available are quite broad in range: milky white, soft pastels, and intense jewel tones.


    Your choice of pretreatment will be influenced greatly by the desired finished result. Dupioni is crisp and shiny in its original state. If you wish to maintain the crispness and shine in your finished garment, dry-clean the finished piece. No pre-treatment will be necessary. However, my favorite uses for dupioni are in its prewashed state. It becomes softer, the shine is less pronounced, and the overall effect is a bit more informal. If you prefer this look, prewash your fabric in cold water with no bleach or fabric softener. I generally throw in a "dye catcher" sheet, to prevent any later possibility of colors bleeding. Hang to dry, or dry in the dryer (low heat, no dryer sheets). If you think this might be an interesting effect, test a ¼ yard piece before sewing.

    Needles and thread:

    Use a sharp or universal needle for your seams. Start with a size 75/11. (Sharp needles are now packaged as "quilting" needles.) You may use all cotton, cotton/poly, or all poly thread, or if you're in a luxurious mood, use silk.


    Fusibles work well with dupioni. Depending on the area of interfacing, you might use Fusi-Knit or Touch-o-Gold. For a more textured look, use a layer of thin fusible quilt batting for interfacing in shirt collars or behind the hems of tablecloths. If you prefer a non-fusible, use silk dupioni or cotton batiste for interfacing.

    Seams, seam finishes, and hems:

    Your standard straight stitch, medium (2.5) length, is perfect for dupioni. Silk dupioni does tend to ravel. You can finish the seams with your serger, make French seams, bind the seams with seam binding or lining fabric, or line your garment. Hemming silk dupioni can be done with a rolled hem, a standard hand-stitched hem, or topstitched hem, depending on the garment.

    Pattern suggestions:

    Dupioni silk is wonderful for tops, dresses, skirts, jackets, and pants. It is beautiful when used for children's clothing. Formalwear made from dupioni is dynamite! Dupioni also makes wonderful home décor such as draperies, pillows, and tablecloths.

    Creative possibilities:

    Dupioni works well in a smocking pleater for heirloom garments. Don't be afraid to use smocked elements in adult clothing! Beaded smocked designs on cuffs and collars are quite elegant. Dupioni can also be pieced for color-blocking, it can be quilted, and embroidery designs work well on this fabric. Try stencilling, rubber stamping, or painting a simple design on your fabric, then adding details of machine embroidery.

    Additional Tips:

    If you're using your dupioni for pillow coverings, underline the fabric with lightweight cotton batting for additional strength. For garments that may have areas of strain (such as the crotch area in pants), stitch a twill tape or a strip of selvedge to the seam for additional strength. For the strongest construction, underline the garment with silk organza. Be sure to pre-treat any underlining using the same method as for the dupioni. Dupioni is gorgeous cut on the bias. Try a bias sleeve, or cut your next pair of dupioni pants on the bias. Allow twice the normal yardage for a bias cut, and double the width of the seam allowance. Bias seams do not ravel, so no seam finishes are necessary.

    Copyright (c) 2018 by EmmaOneSock