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question about crushing doupioni silk

artistgirl74 | Posted in General Discussion on


New here, introducing myself. I just bought a subscription to Threads, wanted to find a place where I can ask questions about sewing, fabric, tips, tricks, the like. I’ve been sewing for myself (usually costumes) for about 5 years now. I have my own site, www dot elvenhippiegypsy dot com (sorry for s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g it out, but I hate spammers!!) where you can see some of the things I have made. I do not make costumes for sale, I only sew for myself of friends/family right now. I do make and sell miniature costumes for dolls or display there is a link to my Cinema-Fantasy site off my main home page there.  I made a link to my homepage on my profile. I use Lyn Waring’s Slopers for dolls, the CAD pattern software called “Dollwear Desginer”, or I draft my own patterns from scratch when selling the miniature costumes. I’m also a member of several costuming and doll sewing online message boards, so if you’re reading this and I sound familiar then you’ve probably met me before on one of those pages.

I’m here today because I’m probably going to be making a costume in which the bodice of the gown appears to be made from a crushed, folded silk doupioni. I wanted to ask–has anyone here every made crushed doupioni for themselves? I found the GREAT crushed velvet tutorial here online, and I know how to do the crushed velvet from plain pile velvet. But- has anyone done this to doupioni? Do I need to get the doupioni wet and hand crush with heat/without heat, or will heat alone do like it does it to velvet? Let me know. I ALWAYS buy extra fabric to play with, test, manipulate and (sometimes) destroy..so even though I am asking out loud here, I will probably just go at it messing around with it on my own to see what I can come up with. But I always like advice, from those who know- who have “been there”.

Thanks for having me,

See you all around the boards from time to time.


Edited 10/12/2006 4:41 pm by artistgirl74


  1. Josefly | | #1

    Artistgirl, I saw a dress made and worn to a wedding by a young designer recently, made of silk dupioni. It was shirred diagonally in the bodice, below the bust to just below the waist, and then the crushed shirring was released into a flared skirt. It was the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen, and I wanted to corner her to ask her how she'd done it. But it doesn't sound like you're talking about shirred fabric, are you? I assume you mean crushed, and then opened up, just to make a randomly wrinkled fabric, like the crushed velvet you mentioned? Anyway, I don't have an answer for you, sorry...just wanted to clarify your question. I hope someone follows up to give you an answer on this interesting idea. Or that you let us know how your own experimenting turns out.

    1. pkibbee | | #2

      I often work with fabric which I have wet and then crushed, allowed to dry, stabilized on the back with a light iron on interfacing and then stitched and stitched.  However, when I tried this with a silk dupioni it changed the shine and therefore the color.  I was quite disappointed.


      Priscilla Kibbee


  2. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #3

    If you want a random crushing you can just crush it up in a ball and steam it. I would be very careful with wetting it since it can waterspot. You can broomstick pleat it and steam it. or you can hand baste it in rows about 2-3 inches apart with 1/3-1/2 inch stitches and very carefully draw up the stitching and smoothing the fabric into  more or less even pleats before steaming it. these last two methods will give you randomized pleats in one direction; horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. the last method is to gather it up with your fingers into random pleatlike folds and then twist it till it curls up into a ball which will give you more wrinkles in the fabric. Mary McFadden, when she was developing her Maari pleated fabric experimented with silk but finally gave up since no matter what they did to the fabric it eventually released all the pleating. They tried wetting with water, vinegar, and a host of other wetting solutions and baking it in an oven all to the eventual loss of the pleating. It will all come out when it is cleaned anyway, unless they have come up with a fabric treatment that will set the marks in permanently, but this may not be available to the home sewer.

    If you construct the garments first then crush them by a method such as broomstick pleating, you can repleat them whenever you clean them.

    Good luck

    1. artistgirl74 | | #4

      Thank you to all for your interest in reading my question and your thoughts!


      I have found one article online at the Lord of the Rings Costume Research Web site here is the link:


      This is a seamstress in Germany (I think) I have read her articles and web pages before. She did broomstick or crinkle with silk, fixing the pleating permanently (all puns intended here) by using a "permanent" solution for your HAIR. No kidding. It looks like by reading it a very SMELLY, dangerous, hot, lengthy project! =0( Not too keen on trying the method, however..I do recall that there are on the market in the US "no heat" perms..if these are available to the public via a Sally Beauty supply store for example- I would be willing to mess around with this. Just to see what happens. I am one of those people who does like to mess around with things, even if it destroys it just to see what happens, to test it's limits. So, If I ever decide to do this, I will come back and let you all know what happens. Go to the site and read that article I think it is quite interesting and quite smart of her to correlate that silk, like many of the natural fibers out there may in fact behave like our hair would. And so, naturally like it's mentioned here- the crinkles and pleats would fall out or relax because just as our hair does every time we style it, and then wash it it renews. She's a smart cookie. Tell me what you all think of this idea or method.



      1. dotty | | #5

        Yes, giving your fabric a perm does sound intriging. This looks like a candidate for a Threads article. I have a hard time bringing myself to buy silk , let alone buying lots extra. I'd want to see some more proven examples of it, with something sewn out of it, as well as being advised what not to do.

      2. Teaf5 | | #6

        I love this idea and I love this forum!  Just when I'm up to my elbows in some goopy, gunky mess of experimentation or just finish a project and discover a far easier way to do it, I wonder if I'm crazy.  Then I read ideas on this forum like using hair permanent solution to crinkle silk and realize that maybe I'm just sharing kinship with creative people everywhere.  Please do report on the results of your crinkling experiment!

      3. jatman | | #7

        I wonder if the no-heat perms have as pungent of an odor and if that would ever wash out of the fabric so that you could wear it without smelling it the whole time. 

        Yes, please let us know if you ever experiment with it!


  3. user-51823 | | #8

    i had to go back and reread your original post to remember that this is for a costume, not a regular-use gown. in this case, i'd do exactly what pkibbee said: fusable on back. you can deal with a litle change in color and finish, yes? i'm dying to know what you are making! if you describe, it may be easier to come up with a process.

    as per pkibbee's idea, wrinkle it, light iron wrinkles in place to set, then re-iron onto fusable interfacing. most will give a stiff crunchy result, but if you use fusable tricot, the silk will retain it's softness. try experimenting with the heat of the iron to find the lowest temp that works.

    Edited 10/20/2006 11:55 am ET by msm-s

    1. artistgirl74 | | #9

      Hey everyone~

      You know, that was the first thing I thought about when I read the web article about how she went about permanently crinkling silk. The SMELL. I hate that smell, anyone who has ever had a perm on their hair, or stepped into a beauty salon when someone else was getting one..you know how awful that might be if you cannot get it out!

      I make miniature costumes, and you can find my site here


      I sell my creations on eBay-where else- under Cinema-Fantasy. I'm done creating for the year, and in November I will begin working on next year. But you can see my past creations by clicking the link to my past creations.

      I would really have to experiment with this idea before making something I would sell to someone, I mean, can you IMAGINE--here's your beautiful little costume, but it STINKS! =0()  yuk! I do not collect dolls, per say- but so far the people that have picked up on my creations are doll collectors.  My true passion is in historical clothing, and movie costumes, and things that just pop out of my imagination. What I make is in the 1:6 to human scale or the average fashion doll we all know and love or hate.

      I am contemplating making something from a Star Wars Film, specifically, Padme Amidala's "picnic dress" as we in the costume fanatic world have called it. Here is a link to a good resolution image of it. You might remember it. 



      I purchased a book titled: "Dressing a Galaxy" and I COVET it! It is available still through amazon.com and book stores. It is a detailed account of the costumes made for the SW films-mostly the prequel ones..not too much info on the older ones by the costume designer herself. In it, she describes the corset bustier on this costume as being made of a "silk cloque" with computerized machine embroidery. The fabric itself has allot of us mystified. When I look at the image, I see as the base layer of the corset= the silk cloque fabric, which is in a gold/marigold color. It has some little squares in the mix along with the over all crushed appearance. Then, on top of this, they did a machine (computerized) embroidery of a scroll motif and some daisies, etc.


      To achieve this look, many people who have chosen to re-create this costume have layered the fabrics instead, because we cannot find this cloque fabric at all.

      What many have been doing is: from the body outwards: lining fabric, then coutil, then underlaying color fabric such as a shot silk or a marigold or bright gold dupioni fabric, then on top of that a semi sheer fabric which is polyester, you get it right a the local Jo-Ann's fabric store for about 9.99 a yard. In the home decorating section. It's called gold crunch.  I myself have already used this fabric in my "bodice inspired window treatments" that I made for my sewing studio.

      here's the link, the gold crunch fabric, I used as the sheer under layer.





      And here is another costume fan who made her own version of the costume using this layering method, you see it works rather well.


      But my point being, and the reason for asking here was- I wanted to know for my own project, if anyone knew a way to crinkle silk. Because I have some of the gold crunch fabric still on hand, but I like to try to use materials as close to the original as possible- which is sometimes exceedingly difficult due to scale conversion! Also- even if I found the gold cloque fabric, the scale would be off. I always end up having to "make" fabric. I already know I have to make the fabric for the shawl myself, cause I am NEVER gonna find the fabric with those roses in the right scale EVER!! And this is why I am always ending up making things myself, rather than just dropping by the fabric store. Only rarely do I get to just go pick out something and go with it. It's always a challenge. Especially when you're trying to be as accurate as you can.

      My original concept behind starting this up for myself was wouldn't it be great if I could make every single costume I have ever cherished! But storage and care for those garments would be like renting a warehouse! LOL! Nevermind the cost of making them all! So, the idea dawned on me, why not make them small, and rotate them on a display in your sewing space? That's how it all started. They have miniature dress forms you can purchase to put things on, and Lyn Waring has a whole line of doll dress form pattern kits along with her slopers.

      Because I make some of these costumes for myself- I know how costly a costume can be. If I am being frugal and using my coupons the average costume I have made with not allot of bells and whistles mind you- costs me about $100-$200 in materials alone. I saw that this cost is prohibitive for people who love these costumes the way I do, and that perhaps I could make them on a smaller scale so that I could use fine fabrics, still, and have the cost of owning one allot smaller. It just all make sense to me.

      So thanks for all your thoughts on this. This project is about 2 years off right now, I already have plans for the entire next year which I work on when I can. I'll let you guys know if I do the silk crushing and what happens.


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