In all my years of sewing, I’ve never worked with silk. I guess it’s predominantly for womenswear garments—bridal gowns, evening wear, etc.—but I was desperate to make something with this luxurious fabric. I love the Thread Theory patterns and saw that they do a mens pyjama bottoms pattern, so thought it would be a perfect match.
Everyone says silk is a slippery fabric, hard to work with, and so on, but some part of me thought it couldn’t be that bad… could it? Well, apparently, it can be! Working with this fabric was a real challenge for someone like me, who is used to nice stable denims or cottons. Even stretch jersey is a walk in the park compared to this. I have newfound respect for anyone who has made anything even semi-fitted in silk satin. The fabric is beautiful to the touch, so smooth, cool and silky… but it doesn’t half slip about when you cut it, pin it, sew it!
I am glad I went with a fairly simple garment—the pyjama bottoms have functioning pockets, an elasticated waist and the option for a fly, which I promptly decided against after cutting the main pieces.
I was maybe overly paranoid about marking the fabric when using pins, so it did take me a while to put these together, and I somehow sewed one of the pocket openings a bit too small. It was my first time sewing a garment with French seams, but I found it wasn't any more fiddly than flat-felled seams.
I went for the drawstring option on the pattern, but rather than adding a cheap cord to this beautiful silk, I made my own drawstring from the main fabric in the same way you’d make rouleau loops or spaghetti straps. I highly recommend picking up a loop turner as they make turning the cord right much easier.
The silk is semi-transparent, so if you were making a fitted garment you’d need to line it. I can just about get away with wearing them, though you can definitely see the pocket bags and my boxers underneath… giving the garment a slight ‘Basic Instinct’ feel!
So there we have it, baptism by fire when working with silk! Will I sew with silk satin again…? Not anytime soon! I can’t even imagine how impossible it would be to make something like a silk shirt or dressing gown. Of course, there are other silk fabrics out there that are easier to work with and next month I’m attempting a garment in silk jersey, which I’m hoping will be a much easier process. Until then, happy sewing!
Duncan
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