Tackle The Trickiest Fabrics – 2 Ways To Stabilize Silk

Making Stuff In May

Over the weekend I worked on a simple camisole. I’d like to say that I totally intended this for Me Made May, but like every year MMM completely surprises me.

I originally intended the gold fabric to be a pair of wide-leg pants. The fabric was so slippery and unforgiving that the whole thing turned out to be a mess. I salvaged what I could and made a camisole.

silk fabric Tackle The Trickiest Fabrics   2 Ways To Stabilize Silk

For my camisole I needed to stabilize the fabric. I used a well-known process of using liquid gelatin as a stabilizer. This method is great if you can’t use sprays and other stabilizers that create fumes .

Method 1

First pre-wash your fabric. I pre-wash mine in a gentle cycle or even just immerse it in a plastic tub of cold water and swish it around. I gently squeeze out excess water and let it hang somewhere safely, out of reach of the cat.

Next, I prepare the gelatin solution. I mix 3 teaspoons of gelatin with 16-24 oz of tap water in a jar or pot. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

Add this mixture to a pot that will be large enough to hold the fabric yardage and bring to a boil. Once at boil remove from heat and pour a liter or two of room temperature tap water in to the pot. Make sure there is enough water to cover your yardage.

Be sure all the fabric is saturated. Agitate with your hand or a clean wooden spoon. Pull it out and place on a towel. Roll it up and press out any excess water.

Let it hang dry.

Once dry, the fabric should be stiff to touch. It won’t be like cardboard but you will notice that it has a papery feel to it. You can now cut out your fabric with much more ease and a lot less slipping and sliding.

Sew your garment together. You can opt to wash your item before wearing to remove any of the gelatin. I usually just wear it as is and don’t worry about washing before wearing.

Method 2

Another method I use is sandwiching. Using a flocked fabric like the underside of the outdoor picnic cloths you can buy at discounts stores, place the fabric on the cloth, then the pattern. Pin through all layers about a 1/2″ – 1″ inside the pattern, or use weights. Then, cut the fabric and the pattern but NOT the table cloth.

I usually have great success with that method too. Works great if you don’t have a rotary cutter. But, you should have a rotary cutter. It makes quick work of fabric cutting, hands down.

tanks gold 300 Tackle The Trickiest Fabrics   2 Ways To Stabilize Silk
Gold rayon and print chiffon camisoles.

For my silk camis I used a gold rayon for the outer and a silk floral that was gifted to me by my mom. It’s not my style, but it makes for a great lining. When I was working on these I did not have Me Made May in mind at all! Just a lucky coincidence.

Do you participate in Me Made May? Me Made May is an entire month devoted to wearing and making your own clothing. I start out with the best intentions but get hung up on all the photo taking.

Let me know your favorite way of stabilizing fabrics and if you participate in Me Made May. If you do, keep on the look out for our favorite garments that we see on Instagram from Me Made May as we Re-gram and re-post our favs through out May.

Floriani 2016 330x250 Tackle The Trickiest Fabrics   2 Ways To Stabilize Silk




 Tackle The Trickiest Fabrics   2 Ways To Stabilize Silk

About Jill

I write for the Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery blogs. I love sewing, vintage and would love to get a comment from you!
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4 Responses to Tackle The Trickiest Fabrics – 2 Ways To Stabilize Silk

  1. Marsha says:

    Hi Jill, The silk stabilizing is a great tip. I’m a little intimidated by those types of fabrics. But now I will give it a try. I did try to embroider a silk scarf and it turned disastrous! Thank you for sharing and I love Sew News and CME.
    Belleville, MI

    • Jill says:

      Stabilizing it helps ease the fear of working with silks. It’s ALMOST guaranteed that you’ll have an easier time of it. And, silk is so amazing, you gotta try it!

  2. Leslie Klein says:

    Rather than dyeing or painting an entire length of fabric, I usually cut my pattern and paint the garment pieces. A little note for stabilizing silk for cutting: if you plan to dye or paint the fabric, it might be best to wash the stabilizer out first. Otherwise your artwork may wash out with the stabilizer later!

    • Jill says:

      Good point. I didn’t think of removing the stabilizer before dyeing. I’m playing around with ice dyeing, so that is good to know.