Friday, February 27, 2015

Taking the Mystery out of Silk - Off the Wall Friday

Although I have 4 feet of snow in my yard and the temperature has not climbed much higher than 20 degrees F in two weeks, I'm thinking spring.  A girl can hope right?  I have an annual habit of starting a  new spring project  and this year I wanted to incorporate silk.  So many times I see how silk is
used in the art quilts and fiber work I admire the most.  Not to mention, I do place orders for a company called Wintersilks.  So it might not be a bad idea if I learn something about this mysterious fabric.

As you might or might not know, silk is harvested from a silkworm's cocoon (really not a worm at all but a larva for a future moth).  That is why silk is a protein fiber rather than cellulose  fiber (like cotton or rayon) and will behave differently when you use your reactive procion dyes on them. You can use the same textiles paints on silks as you use on their cellulose sisters.

So of course, silk is made into all sorts of fabrics with all sorts of weights.  Its a little overwhelming!!  I took the advice of Marlene Glickman and bought some samples from Thai Silks in California.  Its so much easier to put a swatch with a name that it was a worthwhile investment.  Here are some of my favorites!

Organza - sheer open weave fabric that has a smooth flat finish.  It has a stiff crisp hand and comes in a variety of weights that effect its translucence.

Charmeuse - satin weave silk with a crepe back - think lingerie and silk pajamas!

Chiffon - sheer fabric with a soft limp hand to it.  Will drape wonderfully

Habotai  - is a plain weave fabric  - has a "silky" hand (mostly but it does come in crinkle varieties) its soft and lustrous. 

Dupioni - this is a double weave fabric (often with two close but different colors).  Its a substantial plain weave with a nubby texture.  Still has a nice luster to it.

Noil has a nubby feel and a low sheen.  It comparable to cotton in texture  easily sewn

That is only a small sampling but at least it got me started on knowing what I was looking for.  I'm looking forward to playing with translucence and organza this spring.  Its been on my to do list but when I tried with synthetic fabrics last summer I got lack luster results.  So hopefully silk will put me on the right road!

So what have been up to creatively?


Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

You will also find out that silk ravels quite a bit.

The Inside Stori said...

You make me want to dig out my silks.....tx's for the reminder!!!!

Norma Schlager said...

I love working with silk, especially Dupioni, although I recently learned that it does take dye differently and it does ravel.

Shannon said...

I love silks (and polyesters too), but I'm not exactly great with them. For thin ones, I have good luck interfacing them first. Good luck, the sheen and colors are so beautiful!

Gwyned Trefethen said...

You make silk sound so tempting. Love the sheen that can be created. Thanks for the lesson.

Teresa Duryea Wong said...

I have a Duponi silk project in the works right now. I covered the back of each piece with this amazing light weight Pellon fusible... really helped with the incessant fraying. I had to move the project to the background for some other quilts I need more urgently, but hope to get back to it soon. Love working with the silk, such a lovely hand.

Maggi said...

Silk is definitely my favourite fabric, so much variety and it just seems to add that bit extra to pieces.