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Double-sided Chinese silk brocade

vharden | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

My neice brought back from a trip to China 6 yards of 35″ wide georgeous red silk brocade (cherry blossoms on the red field) with more muted colors in stripes on the opposite side. I want to make a jacket for formal occasions to wear over black pants & top. Would very much appreciate advice on the following before I cut this fabulous fabric:

1. Recommendations for patterns that will best show off and sew up with this fabric.

2. How to finish the seams so that I don’t need to line or interface, if possible but so that the seams will be finished. I am currently thinking of binding the fronts, neckline, and sleeve edges with white and felling or doing French seams for the inside seam finishes. Am concerned about sleeve seams with this heavy fabric.

Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


  1. jjgg | | #1

    I'm curious as to why you don't want to line this fabric. and its not really 'double sided', the stripes on the back are the 'wrong' side, its the way they carry the colored threads across the loom to make a 'brocade'.But, anyway, I would NOT do French seams as they would be way to narrow, thick and heave. You need a wider seam allowance on heavier fabrics for it to hang nicely. A hong Kong finish would be the way to go if you are not going to line it.As for patterns, get something without complicated seams/piecing. Good chineese silk brocades are heavy and don't have much drape.

    1. vharden | | #2

      Many thanks for the information. The "back" side of the fabric is very smooth and has its own pattern rather than loose threads being carried along for the front weave. Would you still recommend lining it and not trying to show off that other "face" of the fabric?

      1. Crazy K | | #3

        There was an article in a sewing mag........and I'm thinking it was Threads about using two-sided brocade for garments and how to construct...........maybe check the archives......or maybe some kind soul remembers it and can direct us to it.  It was interesting and the garments (mostly jackets) were absolutely stunning!


        1. vharden | | #6

          You all are wonderful! Yes, that issue of Threads (#113, July 2004) is about exactly the fabric I have. I had forgotten all about the issue, but when I pulled it out, there was the fabric on the cover! The article will be very helpful.Many thanks to everyone for all your advice. I am a bit intimidated with this challenge but hope that I can do justice to this beautiful fabric.

          1. User avater
            susannah_sews | | #7


            I bought some brocade like this in Vancouver, BC about two years ago when on holiday, and finally made it up a fer months back.  I used a vogue pattern - Sandra Betzina - can't remember the number, but it was an oriental style, with frog closures, slightly stand up collar, with sleeves included in the back and side fronts (not exactly dolman sleeves, but not separate pieces).  The fabric frayed as soon as you looked at it, and I didn't want to line it, so I used a Hong Kong finish on all the raw edges (I cut the bias strips from acetate or rayon lining fabric from my stash - very light weight.)  The pattern worked well, and it was a great success.  The fabric was lovely to work with, as well.

            good luck


          2. vharden | | #8

            Thanks. This is very helpful. Will look at Sandra Betzina patterns.

      2. User avater
        craftygirl | | #5


         Oh the task you have set before yourself. I have fabric just like that, and wanted to do the same. I have not cut mine to full size yet but i made a few small 1/4 size pratice garments. Vest or vest style tops worked the easiest.

        you could take an "art to wear" attitude towards it. A Mandarin style vest with or with out the collar.  pick a side to be more artsy, then use bias strips of opposite side or complimentary fabric to bind edges at armholes, along neckline(without collar). since you will not have interfacing, you need to handle the facing as a decorative element to handle button holes and buttons,  

        If you have enough fabric make separate yet cooordinating garments, ie vest and jacket set from opposite sides of the fabric.

        Have fun!

      3. Teaf5 | | #9

        There have been many interesting discussions on this forum about "which is the right side" and about reversible garments. You might want to check those out for good ideas.Another option, besides making a reversible garment or settling on a single face, is to make the body of the garment using one side out and making the bindings, pockets, embellishments with the other side out. The colors are guaranteed to coordinate, and you get a little extra flair with the different texture or weave in the details.

        1. vharden | | #10

          Many thanks.

  2. Crazy K | | #4

    Aha........I found it!  I went digging in my old issues.........check out the June/July 2004 issue #113 of threads............beautiful article on making garments from Chinese Brocade.  It is the type you're referring to..........not the one sided with the loopy threads on the backside........this is reversible stuff and goreous, too, I might add!!  Have fun!


    p.s.....edited to include vol. #

    Edited 1/21/2008 4:23 pm ET by Crazy K

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