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darts in silk that ravels

llou1of7 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I’m making a vest in some silk I already have cause to dread sewing with (yes, I’m nuts). I made a maid-of-honor dress for my sister’s wedding in it years ago and cursed every step of the way. Well, I have enough left over for a truly gorgeous vest and I’ve been preparing myself for the adventure… 😉

I’ve done a bunch of reading in Threads articles on how to avoid ravelling and how to sew with slippery fabric. Already sewn up the lining so I could get a “trial run” on any challenges when I make it in the silk. I’m also making the back of the vest out of the lining, so I’m only using the silk for the front.

Now these are the challenges I’m looking at: an inset corner (it has a shawl collar) and a large open dart at the bottom. Both of them will ravel like ka-razy when I slash them to the seamline. As I remember, I found threads on the floor all over my house and my clothes for weeks after making that dress for the wedding.

This is what I’m thinking of doing and I’d like to know if I’m on the right track here. I’ve heard of using organza to assist with reinforcing inset corners (thanks, Threads!). Could I use it the same way to reinforce the slash on the dart?

I need to interface the front edge anyway for buttons (no, I’m not making buttonholes –noo!!– I’m just putting in loops, but I still need to interface for that).

So here’s the $60K question: any reason I shouldn’t underline the whole front piece with organza? I’ll be using it for the inset corner, the dart presumably, and the front edge. Wouldn’t it be odd to have all these patches of interfacing here and there, so I might as well underline the whole thing?

If I do that, how do I keep the two layers from shifting and sagging from each other? If I hand baste the two layers together do I risk damaging the silk?

Yes, I know, I’m crazy. Help!


  1. llou1of7 | | #1

    Here's an addendum to the previous post. I just re-read the Threads article on reinforcing inset corners. Turns out that I'm supposed to use cotton organdy, not organza :-P


    1. user-51823 | | #2

      what's your fabric? silk only refers to the kind of fibers used in the weave; ie, you can have silk satin, silk velvet, sil chiffon, etc etc.
      since you are considering using stiff interfacing, i assume you are using a dupioni or shantung? in which case, it might work well to do the whole thing the way you are considering.

      Edited 11/20/2006 11:15 am ET by msm-s

      1. llou1of7 | | #3

        Well, your question really reveals my lack of experience with silk. My sister bought this silk from China on eBay so we could both make our dresses for the wedding. There wasn't any indication of what kind of silk it is. I can try to describe it and maybe you can tell me. It's midweight among typical fabrics suitable for blouses, with a smooth satin finish that includes a sort of brocade design that looks like embroidery woven in. Does that sound like a kind of silk that you recognize?

        1. user-51823 | | #4

          so, it looks like the sort of embroidered satin that tradionally is used for oriental garments? then i suppose you have answered your own question; it's satin (if i'm picturing correctly). satin is slinky and yes, very ravelly. it can be interfaced but IMO, you don't want to stiffen it with organdy. to give it strength and body, and help stop ravels, i would back the fabric entirelywith iron-on tricot interfacing (tricot is a knit and lets the fashion fabric retain it's ability to drape softly, as opposed to a stiff woven interfacing), before sewing.
          ps- many people still mistakenly call anything slinky that looks like satin, "silk". i'm wondering if the seller on ebay was correct on calling is silk or not. many of these oriental-look satins are really made from acetate, and those ravel like mad. you can determine what fiber a fabric is made from by doing burn tests. i don't recall how you tell if it's acetate or real silk, but i think threads had a chart some time ago. it would be interesting to look that up and try it.Edited 11/20/2006 11:26 am ET by msm-sEdited 11/20/2006 11:28 am ET by msm-s

          Edited 11/20/2006 11:29 am ET by msm-s

          1. llou1of7 | | #5

            Thank you, that's brilliant!!That would take care of the inset corner, the open dart, all other ravelled edges --and provide interfacing for the button loops. Because it's fusible I wouldn't have to worry about shifting fabric and it probably would be much easier to sew in general. Stability, ravel-prevention and interfacing in one fell swoop. Thank you so much !!Re: as to whether it is really silk --could I still use this method if it isn't silk? (really hoping I can)

          2. user-51823 | | #6


          3. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #7

            The way to tell silk from acetate:

            Acetate fabric will melt in nail polish remover - try a scrap in a bit of nail polish remover.

            Silk fabric will burn when lit with a match but is self-extinguishing.  It doesn't "melt".  Will leave a bit of easily crushable residue at the burned edge.

            I worked in a fabric store and some our fabrics like the one you describe were a silk/acetate blend.  You would be able to discern that if you melt a piece in nail polish remover but are left with fibres or residue that won't melt.

            Occassionaly these fabrics are polyester.  Polyester won't melt in nail polisher remover but does "melt" when it's burned and leaves a hard residue at the burned edge.

            You can successfully use the iron-on interfaced method suggested previously on any of these fabrics.

          4. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #9

            Hi all had to jump in to ask my question too...I love this thread has really been wonderful learning about thisSo the questionI had heard at sometime or another that another way to help extreme raveling fabric and such is to before you even cut it use like fray Block (Fray Check) along the cutting line then go ahead and cut it out in the middle of the line..I personally haven't tried that but what are all your thoughts on that idea. This way if you were not using anything underneath and just for the wonderful ease of cutting it before you back it with anything was my thinking?So that is my million $ Question to you allThanksConnie

          5. fabricholic | | #10

            Fray Chek will be a little stiff and scratchy. There is a product that is not. It will, also, darken the fabric some. It would take alot of it, I imagine. Don't forget to wipe off the scissors.Marcy

          6. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #11

            See that was what I thought when I heard it so of course I haven't tried it I just thought I would get more opinions and maybe someone actually tried too.. I use Fray Block which is a little softer then Fray Check do you recommend something that is even softer then that? Let me know Please I am so for it!! I guess to maybe it would depend on the fabric itself..That is where taking the time to test would be good.Tell me more about the other product that is softer. The only one I have used better the fray check is the Fray block one that comes in a tube.Thanks MarcyConnie

          7. fabricholic | | #12

            I haven't used one, but I have heard that there was a softer one.  I have always used Fray Chek, because that was the only one available at the store.  I guess if the seam allowances aren't going to show, it won't matter if it turns a little darker.  I'm sure you will do a good job with it, no matter what.


          8. user-51823 | | #13

            athough i think dry fusible is best in this case, if you really want to use glue for cut edges, all you need to do is use any glue that is thick enough to sit on top of the fabric as it dries, rather than the watery thin ones that darken the fabric (as if permanently wet). it's not that these glues dry scratchy, it's that they are so thin that when dry, the bare threads are stiff and therefore scratchy, instead of having a protective coat. Sobe is like Elmers glue but dries more flexible. it would work, but i think it's best to stick with a fusible on daily-wear.

          9. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #14

            Like I said when I asked the question about this suggestion I had received and I love the thought processes into this using the adhesive?Like I said I have not tried and just wanted to know everyone's thoughts on it..Now that was a great thought on using a glue that sits on top I would have never thought of that..Sobe I had never heard of that either so I am learning lots Thanks so muchWere would you find Sobe glue I think I just might do some testing out..
            Who new

          10. user-51823 | | #15

            It's called Sobo, and it is commonly sold at basic fabric stores with the notions. probably available at craft stores too, like Michaels's, hobby Lobby, Garden Ridge etc, in glue section. looks and smells just like elmer's white glue, but dries a little more soft and flexible. i've used it to stop runs in knits and ravels in silkies. also for applying decoration. a scenic business i used to freelance for bought it by the 5 gallon bucket to roll onto sets and props in order to cover them with muslin (for smooth finishes). it's non-toxic.

            Edited 11/21/2006 10:03 pm ET by msm-s

          11. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #16

            Thanks for the correction I just notice that I was spelling like the drink!! Too funny..Thanks muchI was thinking that I would use this technique more for craft projects anyway...Something like a garment you are absolutely right the better choice would the other mentioned..Thanks for that little tid bit. I love more minds to think some things out,everyone thinks with a different angle.Have a great ThanksgivingConnie

          12. fabricholic | | #17

            I found this glue at Hobby Lobby.Marcy

          13. SewNancy | | #18

            If you want to use this in warmer weather don't iron on interfacing it will be hot. You can underline in silk organza and you can use it for the inset corner. Hand baste in cotton basting thread,down center of dart I use glue stick in the sas. It is not stiff. You can handle the edges by serging all edges before sewing and either the same or zigzag the edges of the dart. You can also trim them down and you could also use a couture technique of hand overcasting the edges of the dart. Also I assume that you are lining the vest in which case you really don't need to treat the edges.

          14. fabricholic | | #19

            It's Blondie2Sew that is using the silk. I'm making a vest, but not with the silk. Mine will be lined and for winter weather.

          15. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #20

            Hey guys ok I have to laugh there has been some miss communicationObviously on my end and I apologize for that.I was just inquiring about another method I had heard about for the ravel part of fabric. And wanted to see what your thoughts were.I am not making a vest at this time. I am again so sorry for the confusion. I was just wanting to see if the method I had heard about for handling ravely fabric is a bust or would it work? Please forgive me if I messed up the posts by my question and all!Thanks Have a great Thanksgiving allConnie

          16. llou1of7 | | #21

            Hi! I'm the one who's making the vest and started this discussion. It's been great and the advice has been really helpful. I've since bought the fusible tricot interfacing that someone suggested. I applied it to the yardage using a piece of interfacing that was bigger than the pattern piece. Then I bit the bullet and cut it out --da da daaaaah.... Well, it looks like it's working. The fraying is not completely stopped, but it looks good enough to make this work. Thanks so much for all the help!Louise

  2. fabricholic | | #8

    I just bought some iron on tricot for a vest from Nancy's Notions. I was reading in Anna Zapp's book to use it.


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