All My Pretties: Confessions of a Silk Hoarder

My silk collection began with a bolt of inherited peach silk crepe that resided in a steamer trunk for many years. Then, as I attended big quilt shows I began buying bits of silk dupioni. Here’s what’s left of a 25 piece collection.

DupianiDupioni colors are wonderful, but the fabric just loves to shred. It needs to be backed with fusible knit interfacing or cut on the bias.

I continued to seek out silk yardage at various shops and shows. The left hand piece is shot silk and the right hand one is organically dyed silk from Laos (bought in Canada.)

Shot silkLaotian silk

But why stop at yardage? I didn’t and started buying second hand designer silk scarves. These will need to be backed with fusible interfacing before I use them.

Bill Blass scarfNorrell scarf

Once I began dyeing fabric I decided to dye that bolt of silk crepe, even though you’re not supposed to use Procion MX dyes on silk. I went with what I had. First, I used a bubblegum pink dye to intensify the pinkness. Another time a few yards were treated to ice dyeing. It does seem I have a lot of pink and purple silk.

Dyed silk crepeIce dyed silk

And once people learn of your interest in silk they donate to the cause. Here are sari silks and a silk batik from a friend.

Green sari silkNavy pink sari silk Batik silk

My latest silk purchases have been a silk/cotton mix fabric called Radiance which I hope to use with some of the silks above.

Radiance fabricI also have cut up silk ties. Here’s how I used some of the tie fabric.

Tie sticksNote I haven’t included silk organza, another aspect of my fascination with silk.  I’m afraid there’s still more, but I can handle just so much confession at one time.



Filed under dyeing, In Process

8 responses to “All My Pretties: Confessions of a Silk Hoarder

  1. Inspiration AND a practical tip for achieving it! I have a few silk ties that I’ve been saving because I saw a technique where you get them to shed their excess dye and stamp them on another piece of fabric to get a print, but I like your tie quilt much better. And I would have never thought about using interfacing on silk. So I am sure you have given me another direction to follow – as soon as I finish my current to-do list. 🙂

    • Ties have their own unique challenges. First you need to take them apart and separate the silk from the stiffening material. Next you need to press them and try to get rid of the fold lines. Sometimes you can’t if there’s wear along those lines. Oh, it’s another design opportunity! In most ties the silk is cut on the bias, so be aware they can be stretchy, and the shapes aren’t exactly square. All that said, they’re great for a scrappy quilt and can be cheap if you use an inherited tie collection (I got my husband’s when he retired) or shop thrift stores. Do make sure the ties are silk; there should be a label. I’ll look forward to seeing your tie quilt.

  2. Sandy

    Breathtakingly beautiful. I see a crazy quilt with tons of intricate embroidery. I have a similar collection, which I have no idea what I’m going to do with yet. I collect old linens. Doilies, handkerchefs, napkins, dishtowels, tablecloths, etc. I see some of that embroidery and crocheted stuff with this silk.

    • Just this morning I was handling a crazy quilt made with silks, satins, and velvets. Gorgeous embroidery – found a pig (!) and a top hat with arm raising it up; plus hand painted fabrics. I know myself well enough to realize that’s not in the cards for my silks. Some folks make wonderful clothing out of old crocheted, etc., items.

  3. patty

    I have a bunch of silk scraps from when I worked at the shop that made clothes for people who showed western horses. They were cleaning up and I had to save them from the trash. Someday you will have to go thru them and see if there are any treasures!

  4. I was wondering about silk ties the whole time I was reading–that’s a great way to use them! It would be a mistake to make a practical quilt, for real use, with silk, wouldn’t it?

    • Silk itself is washable – hand wash, etc. The issues come in with interfacing materials, which may not be washable. Plus, often you have no idea how the fabric was dyed, and you could get a lot of bleeding.

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