I have nearly three yards of this lovely silk chiffon – a beautiful remnant I got at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I’m thinking of using it for a skirt and pair it with a solid silk underskirt (cream or some other color). But before I start sewing it I need to prewash it or take it to the dry cleaners. Prewashing silk fabric in the washing machine may seem wrong but it’s not something you should automatically rule out. I’m trying to decide what I should do.
I’ve done a little research and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
This is how I care for silk fabrics:
- Serge/overlock the raw edges of the length of silk fabric to be turned into a garment
- Put into washing machine. If desired, add a few other garments of similar weight and color. Make sure to zip up any zippers.
- Wash on a cool setting with a small amount of mild detergent. I make my own. DO NOT USE POWDER. In a pinch, use a capful of shampoo.
- I like to add a little bit of vinegar to the rinse water. Try 1/4 cup. It freshens the silk and removes any soap residue.
- If desired, use fabric softener. I think of it the same way as using conditioner on my hair.
- Remove from the washing machine immediately.
Be sure to read the rest of her post for more of her experiences on washing silk.
I also tweeted (@csewsalot) for advice and StephC (@SewingCake) advised: “when in doubt, just wash a 10cm sq of fabric to see what happens. don’t use hot or cold water. Gentle cycle. Should be ok.” [Note: For the metrically challenged (like myself) 10cm is about 4 inches.]
I found this blog, How to Clean Stuff, which had this helpful post “How to Wash Silk.” Be sure to read the comments for more advice. This site has many, many posts on cleaning a variety of clothing and fabric, from “How to Clean Antique Lace” to “How to Whiten Yellowed Wool.”
I also called a local fabric store to see if they carried anything that you could use to wash silk. The woman I spoke to seemed a bit appalled that I would consider putting silk in the washing machine, suggesting that I dry clean it because washing it could really change the fabric. BUT she said if I really wanted to do that, I should use baby shampoo.
So I’ll definitely prewash a test swatch and see what happens to the fabric and then I’ll decide if I want to prewash all the yardage or just take it to the dry cleaners. I’ll be sure to post my results!