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sandwashed silk

cecelia | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I am making two first communion dresses for my granddaughters.  I had an article years ago on how to sandwash silk.  I can no longer find the article.  I want to make obne dress in regular silk and sandwash the other so that they don’t look exactly the same.  Can anyone help me?


  1. marymary | | #1

    I remember that article.  I think I even tried it, at the time.  By searching the Magazine Index, I found Threads #71, page 16 has something about sand-washing silk at home.  I have not looked at that issue to see if that is what you are wanting.

    1. cecelia | | #3

      Thank you for the reference...Cecelia

  2. woodruff | | #2

    I've done it, and it's amazingly simple: First, you serge the cut edges to prevent fraying, and then, you just throw the silk in the clothes washer with some towels, and wash it as if it were cotton. Some instructions say to toss vinegar into the rinse, but frankly, I haven't seen that it looks any different from using nothing (and I suspect that "acid washed" may just be a catchy industrial term for "distressed"). Anyhow, the result of this home-washing is a slight de-lustering and compacting of the fabric. It isn't quite the same as silk you buy already labelled as "acid-washed," which is generally quite a weighty fabric.I wash all my silks, except tweeds, before sewing them (after all, dry-cleaning was invented long after silk!), and I dry them on low for about ten to fifteen minutes, again with towels, pulling them out before they're too dry. Then, while they're still warm, I spread them out on the bed to finish drying.For your maiden voyage into this territory, you might want to serge the edges of a big swatch and try the technique out.

    1. cecelia | | #4

      Thank you, this is exactly what I remember as being in the article, but I was afraid that I forgot something.  Thank you very much. Cecelia

  3. solosmocker | | #5

    I have done this many times. I do as Woodruff does with the exception that I put mine in with a batch of old bluejeans or dungarees. It roughens up the silk a little better. Sometimes it can take more than one wash. I put the silk in the dryer when I am done to abrade it even more. I have never had bad luck with this. The vinegar is thrown in the wash not to change the hand but to set the dye and thus prevent it from leaching out in the washing process. Given that you are probably using white for FHC dresses, you don't need to worry. Another thought is to make the two dresses in the same fabric but different styles. Just a thought.... Good luck with your project and I hope we can see pics when you are done.

    1. cecelia | | #6

      Thank you so much for the information.  One of my granddaughter s lives in Milwaukee and the other in Charlotte so they don't spend a great deal of time with each other.  I have about 70 smocking and heirloom dress magazines from which to choose a dress.  Out of all of these magazines and being so far apart, they both picked the same dress for me to make  These selections were done two weeks apart and I was they only one who new what they chose.  I couldn't believe it.  With all of the information I've received, I think I can please them both.  Thank you... Cecelia

      1. Alice in Atlanta | | #7

        Mmm, six degrees of separation, must be in the genes.  That's pretty incredible that they'd both choose the same from all those selections.

        1. cecelia | | #8

          It certainly is scary.  It must be in the genes.

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