I was doing a fitting with one of my lovely models last week, and as I pinned her into the gingham muslin, I told her that the dress she would be eventually wearing would be a beautiful blue silk. She had done a bit of sewing and said, “oh, I tried sewing silk once when I didn’t know anything about it. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” I imagined that the silk she’d been using was probably something very light (like chiffon) or very slippery (like charmeuse).
I immediately wanted to recommend my favorite product for dealing with these tricky fabrics: Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer.
Sullivan’s is a spray-on product that makes fabrics stiff and papery. It makes sewing with delicate and slippery fabrics much, much easier. It’s similar to a spray starch, but it tends to be easier on your fabric and doesn’t scorch or build up on your iron. To use it, just spray it liberally onto your (prewashed!) fabric before cutting. When your garment is done, it simply washes away. Voila!
I am a great lover of silk, and it’s probably the fiber I use the most often in my own sewing, so I am pretty familiar with its temperamental forms. Sullivan’s is truly a lifesaver in my studio.
Caveat: Some sewers do not believe in using spray stabilizer on expensive silk, so take that for what it’s worth. I’ve used it many times and have never had a single problem, so I’d invite you to give it a try.