Eye of the Beholder

original applique patterns inspired by the world around us

Stability for Silk

 Fan quilt circa 1895. silk and velvet with silk embroidery.

Fan quilt circa 1895. silk and velvet with silk embroidery.

I have to admit it. I love silk.  It is soft, elegant and luxurious.  I love the way it comes to life with light, and how it feels on my skin. (My favorite pajamas are silk) It speaks of the elegance of the Victorian Era where I have taken much of my design inspiration from.

But silk is trickier than cotton to stitch by hand.  It is slippery and frays easily.  So easily, in fact, that it unravels in the air, untouched on my sewing table.

   Hearts & Fleurs   attempted with 2-way stretch stabilizer. A UFO.

Hearts & Fleurs attempted with 2-way stretch stabilizer. A UFO.

 My first attempts of reverse needle-turn applique by hand were a struggle. First I tried with no stabilizer.  It was a fight with poor results.

Then I tried a 2-way stretch iron-on stabilizer.  This was not much better. The silk didn't hold the fold when I tucked under the raw edge.  So the edges were rounded, rather that clean. Each stitch needed to be individually anchored, too, to keep the sewn edge from coming undone. Corners were more rounded than angular, and I had to work to keep from getting fuzzy points because it frayed so easily.

My first attempt still lies unfinished, but the idea of creating in silk is not forgotten.

So I've been experimenting.  Next, I found a 1-way stretch iron-on stabilizer, thanks to a local quilt shop, Sew Downtown .  It is rtex 100% polyester stabilizer. It has worked beautifully!  I stabilized both the top and background fabric to keep the fabric layers of equal weight and body, so they work together.  This stabilizer adds body, but not stiffness or bulk. The stabilized silk is still light and supple, yet tamed.

  Rose  Pillow/ block. Dupiont silk with rtex 100% polyester stabilizer.

Rose Pillow/ block. Dupiont silk with rtex 100% polyester stabilizer.

Now the silk responded to my folding and tucking, and I could get a clean edge and crisp inside and outside points.  No fuzzy corners.

Possibilities of elegant beauty now abound.  I'm in the planning stages of rendering a pattern in silk, with velvet.  I'll stabilize both the silk and the velvet.

I do recommend that after you iron on the stabilizer and trim your fabric to the block size, that you zig-zag the edges around your piece.  This helps reduce the fuzzy frayings, minimizing your block shrinking from its cut size.