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Sari Silk and Silk Chiffon
helpful hints and tricks for working with the tricky fabric
prostheticsgirl
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prostheticsgirl
Intermediate
Ohio USA
Member since 3/6/12
Posts: 59
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Date: 11/7/12 4:36 PM

I've been a member on PR for over 6 months now, and someone only just discovered the message board section last week! Silly, I know. Here are tips I posted in a previous pattern review on working with light weight silks (specifically Indian silk saris, but the information would translate to most light weight PITA fabrics).

I buy a lot of vintage saris, mostly from Ebay, because the fabrics are just so unusual and colorful. I love using vintage too because it's like the fabric has already led one life, and I get to reclaim it and use for something completely new! Anyone who has read a few of my reviews can confirm my obsession. Below is information on the basics and how I treat them. Do not consider this expert advice; this is just how I proceed.

*A sari is the garment worn by Indian women that is wrapped and draped. Most are 42-45" wide and they vary in length so check item descriptions

*For most silk saris the fabric is very thin (silk chiffon to silk habotai texture) so plan on lining or underlining

*Most saris have a drape portion on one end that is 30-36" of contrasting/coordinating print. This gives you lots of interesting options for bodices and hems.

*Most saris have borders prints on the lengthwise grains. Sometimes both borders are the same, other times one is more elaborate than the other. This gives great options for hems, waistbands, etc.

*I machine wash and dry all mine before beginning. They often arrive with an odor, but it comes out in the wash. I despise dry cleaning, both for the expense and inconvenience, so nearly all garments I sew are machine washable. Silk is much more durable than we often give it credit for, and I now wear silk more for daily garments and not just special occasions.

*Zoe, I love you!! Zoe shares my love of Indian fabric and suggested doing a gelatin soak to give the fabric more body and make it easier to sew. The recipe she suggested was 3 tsp gelatin to 3 liters of water (one package of gelatin is about 2 tsp) and soaking the fabric for 1 hour before air drying. I confess that I made a huge batch of the gelatin and spent a day prepping multiple pieces. I also confess that I didn't fully air dry; I tossed them into the dryer on "no heat" then turned to delicate when I got tired of waiting. The gelatin did NOT gunk up my needle and didn't even cause problems when I accidentally forgot and used the sprayer on my iron. It also seemed to help reduce raveling

*Use very sharp scissors, rotary, or pinking shears to help avoid fraying and minimize handeling as much as possible (underlining helps with the fraying as well)

TracyTheMaterialGirl
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TracyTheMaterialGirl
Intermediate
UNITED KINGDOM
Member since 11/20/09
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Date: 11/8/12 8:18 AM

Thanks for this! I too have a habit of buying sari from ebay - but, as yet, no habit of actually making anything from them. I like the idea of the gelatin bath - but as a vegetarian will have to experiment with agar instead. Unless anybody else out there has experimented already and would like to share?

happytobehere
happytobehere
Beginner
Member since 7/31/10
Posts: 295
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Date: 11/8/12 8:34 AM

I love saris too. I have found quite a few of them in thrift shops.
Your tips are much appreciated.

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