How to Sew with Drapey Silks


Drapey fabrics such as silk can be challenging to sew. If you have a design in mind that uses one, you may find these tips useful to get the best result.


Modern silks can usually be washed in the washing machine. Check with the haberdasher when you buy to be sure. With pre-washing you won’t have to worry about shrinking or use a pressing cloth to protect it from water marks.

Good Housekeeping have some advice on washing silks which you can read here:


Handling silky fabric is difficult – even the slightest hitch can distort the line and make sewing harder. Give your silk some stability by spraying it with a little starch. Trim off any loose threads so they don’t snag on anything.

Securing the Fabric

It can be helpful to pin the fabric to the table to hold the weave straight while you are pinning and cutting. Use silk pins, which are much finer than regular pins. If you’re going to be using interfacing, then apply it to the fabric before you cut, and you’ll have a much more stable piece of material to work with.


Avoid scissors, as getting one blade underneath can often distort the fabric. Instead use a rotary cutter.


You will need to buy a slim (size 60-70) ‘sharps’ needle for your machine, if you don’t already have one. The correct thread is also an important choice. Even the finest hole can damage delicate threads and leave a permanent mark on silk fabrics. You want to sew it right first time if you can.

Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t be too ambitious. If you are new to sewing, then using drapey silks is likely to be too challenging. Instead look online cotton fabric online from a reputable retailer such as and start with something more sturdy and simple.


Silks and other delicate fabrics are quite prone to fraying. If you want to ensure that your garment will last as long as possible, then consider using French seams. These tuck the raw edge inside and look much neater on the finished piece, and silk doesn’t add too much bulk to the seam.

Although it can seem daunting to sew with these fabrics, following these tips will help you make a success of your first piece and many more after that.


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