Ok, I will admit it.  I have a bit of an addiction.  I have such good intentions when I acquire ANOTHER piece of fabric but somehow life gets in the way, so that new piece gets added to the pile.  I was digging around in said pile looking for something (I can’t remember what now!) and found this 3m piece of grey 4 ply silk crepe.

I can’t remember how long it had been aging in my stash but I do remember envisioning a pair of pants from this silk, just not a tailored pair.  I wanted a softer silhouette to take advantage of the drape.  After drooling over it for a while, I realized there should be enough to make the Marcy Tilton pants (V9193).  But life is never that easy.  In fondling the fabric, I discovered what looked like grease marks scattered over the yardage (and not it wasn’t my drool!).  I then remembered that was why it was cut off the roll and stashed away.

Can I try washing the fabric to see if I can remove the stains?

Some silks should always be dry cleaned.  Silk doupioni, taffeta, peau de soie and brocade are some examples of fabrics that should be dry cleaned.  Washing will change the texture and hand of the fabric.  Also silk garments with embellishments, linings or detailed construction (boning, shoulder pads etc) should also be dry cleaned.  Very dark or brightly coloured silks should also be dry cleaned to keep the intensity of colour.  Washing will likely lighten the colour.  (black will become grey …)

However, if you are like me, and have a skin sensitivity to dry cleaning chemicals, silk can be cold water hand washed or delicate machine cycle, but care must be taken as silk fibre becomes weak when wet.  Hence do not wring the fabric.  Wrap the fabric in a towel, squeeze the moisture out and hang to dry.  Do not dry in direct sunlight as this will cause fading.  If I’m washing more than one garment in the machine, I like to put the silk fabric/garment in a garment bag.  This way it is not likely to tangle up with the other garments in the wash.  Like my silk undies, silk slips, silk nighties, silk blouses … (yeah, right!)

Because silk is a protein fibre (like wool and your hair), use a suitable laundry soap such as Eucalan, Woolite Extra Delicate Care or Persil Silk & Wool.  You can even try using a mild shampoo like Ivory.  Soaps with harsh chemicals such as bleach or optical whiteners will damage the silk.

Also check for colourfastness.  To do this, cut a small fabric sample and wet it with cold water.  Place the wet piece on a some white fabric and press with a warm iron.  If there is little to no colour transfer onto the white fabric, your fabric is colourfast.  If there is colour bleed, dry cleaning is recommended.

So I tried to wash my fabric to see if I could remove the stains.  No such luck.  But my fabric washing resulted in a suede appearance in the fabric.  (The colour difference is not significant as these are from different dye lots, but note the surface difference between the fabric still on the bolt – top left – and my washed 4 ply silk fabric – bottom right)

Then I spent a good 30 minutes laying out the pattern pieces so as to avoid as many spots as possible.  I was mostly successful with that.  There were a few spots in some seam allowances, a couple spots on a pocket bag and one spot on the inside crotch curve, but I figure no one is going to see that!

Now I have a comfortable AND luxurious pair of pants.  My problem now is that everyone wants to touch them!


Here are some handy links if you want more information about caring for your silks.

The Silk Association of Great Britain

Essential Tips on Caring for Silk Clothing at Home