I have exactly one silk dress – a vintage Laura Ashley shift that I have owned for 15 years and worn only 3 times. Silk is one of those precious fabrics that I knew only from reading about how it was dear and the preserve of the wealthy. Then when I started sewing I’d read about how silk was a beast to sew with and you needed to be extra vigilant when working with it so naturally I stayed away from silk. To me it was the most luxurious textile not to be trifled with.

Lately, I have been deepening my sewing skills and with that came the realisation that I had yet to sew with silk. In the spirit of facing my sewing fears I decided that with the new academic year I will sew silk fabric. Once fortified with resolve and willpower I searched for silk fabric on Minerva and found this Lady McElroy Horsley Silk Crepe de Chine Fabric in Black.

Reasonably priced for the gorgeousness that is this 100% silk crepe de chine, I knew I had found the perfect material for my first silk sewing project. It has a smooth, soft texture that is not slippery. It has a fine hand and drape which makes for elegant dresses or tops.

The properties of silk (apart from its beauty) that makes it desirable include: its low conductivity which keeps you warm in the winter, while its great absorbency wicks moisture away during summer.

The weaving on the material creates a subtle diamond texture that catches the eye enhancing the fluidity of the fabric. It’s a beautiful fabric to look at and to touch.

Sewing Pattern

I used a simple dress pattern from Burda 12/2018 #109. I liked the straight line cut style with a fun flounce. There is some shaping in the form of bust darts and back shoulder darts. There is a centre back zip as well. I felt that the sleeveless style with the v-neck meant I’d be able to wear it layered with a roll neck in colder weather.

Sewing Construction Details

I prewashed the silk by hand before sewing as I had read that it is not recommended to machine wash silk. I kept my iron on a low to moderate setting and used a pressing cloth during garment construction.

I used a sharp needle since the fabric is so fine and finished the edges by overlocking.

I interfaced with a medium weight woven interfacing. With hindsight, that was perhaps a tad heavy for the silk especially around the armholes. I’d recommend a super light weight interfacing instead. I found that the fabric had to handled with care during the sewing process as it frayed due to the weave. It was altogether a new sewing experience for me.


The material moves like a whisper on a summer’s breeze and is cool to the touch. Having worn 2 silk dresses in my life I get it now - the feel of silk fabric is unmistakable: smooth and luxurious, the fabric ripples like the surface of water. I am very pleased with how my first foray in sewing silk turned out. It certainly won’t be my last as I have realised that there is still much to learn about sewing with the most luxurious fabric in the world!

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