How to Sew Silk or Silky Fabric – (On a Sewing Machine)

Last Updated on September 12, 2023

How to Sew Silk or Silky Fabric? Hi, and welcome to The Sewing Stuffs! Here, we’re going to talk about sewing silk and silk-like fabrics. These fabrics are undeniably beautiful, but they can be a bit tricky to work with. Don’t worry; we’ve got some fantastic tips and tricks to make your sewing experience with silk fabrics much smoother.

How to Sew Silk or Silky Fabric


  • Silk pins, lightweight needles (size 70 or 80), and suitable thread are needed to sew silk.
  • Use tissue paper to prevent slipping while cutting, and consider pinking shears to reduce fraying.
  • Sheer weight interfacing or organza can provide the needed stability for your project.
  • Use tape over the needle plate hole or start sewing a short distance from the fabric edge to prevent fabric slippage.
  • Hold the fabric tightly from both sides to avoid puckering while sewing to achieve a smooth, professional finish.

Silk and silk-like fabrics come in a variety of textures and weights. You might be working with something sheer and lightweight or a slightly heavier option.

The first thing you need to pay attention to is how to care for these fabrics. Some silks are washable, while others may look like silk but are actually polyester and also washable.

On the other hand, some fabrics are strictly dry clean only. Be sure to consult the fabric bolt information tag to learn how to care for your fabric properly.

Is silk hard to sew with?

How to Sew Silk or Silky Fabric

Sewing with silk can be a bit challenging due to its slippery nature and tendency to fray. To make it easier:

  • Use tissue paper or fine pins for stability during cutting.
  • Opt for sharp, lightweight needles (size 70 or 80) and appropriate thread.
  • Prevent fraying by using pinking shears or interfacing.
  • Be cautious with ironing; use a pressing cloth if needed. Test your iron’s heat settings on a scrap piece of silk or consult the fabric care instructions.

How to sew silk or silky fabric?

Can you sew silk on a regular sewing machine? Yes you can sew silk with regular sewing machine. Sewing with silk or silky fabrics can be tricky. Use the right equipment, like silk pins and lightweight needles, stabilize your fabric with tissue paper while cutting, and prevent puckering by holding the fabric tightly while sewing for a successful project.

Now, let’s dive into the essential tips and what is the best way to sew silk and similar fabrics.

1. Equipment

How to Sew Silk or Silky Fabric

First things first, let’s make sure you’re using the right equipment for sewing with silk:

  • Pins: Regular ballpoint pins are better for delicate silk fabrics. Consider using silk pins or extra-fine pleating pins. They have a longer taper and a shorter point, making them easier to work with without snagging the fabric.
  • Machine Needles: Use sharp, lightweight needles in sizes 70 or 80, depending on the fabric weight. A finer needle suits sheer fabrics, while a slightly thicker one is better for mid-weight fabrics.
  • Thread: You have several thread options. A 100% silk thread is excellent for its strength and soft texture, with a subtle sheen. However, for very lightweight fabrics, be cautious, as the thread may cut through. All-purpose or 100% cotton thread can also work well.

2. Cutting


Cutting silk fabrics can be a challenge due to their slippery nature. Here’s a helpful technique:

  • Use Tissue Paper: Place a sheet of tissue paper on your worktable, then lay the fabric on top of it. Pin around the fabric’s perimeter through all layers—tissue paper, fabric, and pattern pieces. The tissue paper stabilizes the fabric, preventing it from shifting as you cut.
  • Pinning through All Layers: When cutting, pin through the pattern piece, fabric, and tissue paper. This method provides extra stability and ease while cutting.
  • Pinking Shears: To prevent fraying, consider using pinking shears with a zigzag blade. This cuts down on fraying and helps maintain the fabric’s integrity.

3. Interfacing

When it comes to interfacing for silk fabrics:

  • Sheer Weight Interfacing: Opt for sheer weight interfacing for lightweight silk fabrics. Check the heat settings on your iron, as some fabrics may not tolerate high temperatures. If not, use sew-in interfacing.
  • Organza as an Alternative: You can substitute organza for interfacing if you work with extremely lightweight silk, such as chiffon. Organza provides a bit of stiffness and stability without adding much weight.

4. Now the final part Sewing

How to Sew Silk or Silky Fabric

Here are some tips for smooth sewing with silk fabrics:

  • Preventing Fabric Slippage: If your fabric gets sucked into the machine’s needle plate, consider placing tape over the hole in the needle plate. Alternatively, start stitching a short distance from the edge of your fabric to prevent this issue.
  • Tissue Paper Trick: Keep tissue paper attached to your fabric pieces as you sew. It stabilizes the fabric and is easy to remove after stitching.
  • Puckering Prevention: To prevent puckering, hold the fabric tightly from both the front and back as you sew. This ensures a smoother and more professional finish.

What stitch to use for silk?

When sewing silk or similar delicate fabrics, it’s advisable to use a straight stitch with a relatively small stitch length. A stitch length of around 2.0 to 2.5 mm is often suitable for silk. This smaller stitch length helps prevent the fabric from puckering or getting pulled into the needle plate.

Additionally, consider using a fine, sharp needle appropriate for silk, and holding the fabric taut from both the front and back to maintain even tension and prevent fabric slippage.

Do you need special thread for silk?

No, you don’t necessarily need special thread for silk. While 100% silk thread is an excellent option due to its strength and soft texture, you can also use all-purpose or 100% cotton thread for sewing silk fabrics. The choice of thread often depends on your specific project and preferences.

Bonus! – Can you sew silk by hand? How?

Yes, you can sew silk by hand, especially for delicate fabrics like chiffon and silk. Here’s how:

Prepare Your Materials

You’ll need silk fabric, a suitable thread (polyester, cotton, or silk, depending on your fabric), a sharp sewing needle, and a pair of scissors.

Cut Your Thread

Start by cutting a length of thread that’s no longer than your arm. This length ensures that the thread won’t tangle easily.

Thread the Needle

Feed one end of the thread through the eye of your sewing needle and tie a knot at the other end, leaving a short tail.

Fold the Fabric

Fold the Fabric

Take your silk fabric and fold over the edge you want to hem. The folded edge should be about a quarter of an inch wide (adjust to your preference).

Start Stitching

Insert the needle from the back of the fabric to the front, just below the folded edge. This creates a small stitch under the folded-over edge.

Stitch Along the Edge

Stitch Along the Edge

Continue making small stitches along the folded edge, moving in the same direction (either right to left if you’re right-handed or left to right if you’re left-handed).

Travel Upward

After making a stitch, travel straight up from that point and insert the needle into the fabric just inside the fold. Then, move along the edge, staying inside the hem for about half an inch before coming back up through the fabric.

Repeat the Process

Continue repeating these steps: move down, make a small stitch, travel upward inside the fold, move along the hem, and come back up through the fabric.

Create the Rolled Hem

Periodically, gently pull the thread parallel to the fabric’s edge. This action will create the rolled hem. Run the hem through your fingers to ensure even tension and prevent bunching.

Dealing with Corners

Dealing with Corners

When you approach a corner, stop about an inch short of the edge. To navigate the corner, ensure that the thread exits the rolled hem at the same point where the new hem will start. Fold over the next edge and continue stitching.

Finishing and Securing

Can you sew silk by hand

Once you’ve sewn the entire hem, secure your thread by making a small stitch and passing the thread through the loop that forms. Trim any excess thread.

Optional: Steam to Neaten

If desired, you can use an iron to steam the hem for a neater finish. Be cautious not to press the iron onto the hem, as you want to maintain the rolled effect, not flatten it.


We hope these tips and tricks make working with silk and silk-like fabrics less intimidating. You’ll create stunning projects with these beautiful fabrics with the right equipment, cutting techniques, interfacing choices, and sewing methods. Happy sewing!

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