How to sew silk

Sewing silk can be a tricky task especially if you are new to handling this type of fabric. To help you achieve good results, we’ve asked our wonderful in-house seamstresses to share their tips on how to sew silk fabric. Here are just a few things that their experience has taught them. 

Pick and choose what works best for you and your project!

Full of Contradictions

Silk is strong but delicate, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, it has a durable longevity and yet weakened by sunlight! The one thing we do know for certain though is that it’s one of the most luxurious of all fabrics! These qualities demand careful handling and respect when sewing or there could be a risk of ruining the weave and potentially the whole garment.

The texture and lustre of silk has made it a sought-after luxury fabric, historically renowned as the cloth of emperors and royalty. It’s hard to resist the soft feel and elegant appearance of a quality silk garment. And so, it’s no wonder that today’s high-end fashion designers still use it as their fabric of choice.

As The Silk Bureau uses some of the most advanced digital textile printing technology in the industry, our colours pop with vibrancy on the designs submitted by our customers. To do the fabric the justice it deserves, take care when sewing silk. This way you will create a quality garment you will be proud to wear! 

hemming step 13
scarf printing and hemming service 2

Silk Fabric Printing

Our customers place their orders of vibrant, colourful designs knowing that the advanced digital textile printing methods used by The Silk Bureau will bring fantastic results.

All our silk fabric is acid-coated by our expert production team before printing. This allows for optimum colour replication of our customers’ artwork. Using acid sounds scary, but it is only a mild acidity, akin to clear table vinegar!

How to sew silk - Equipment


thread rotation illustration

Use new, ultra-sharp fine needles.

If needles are old or blunt there is a risk of the weave splitting or unravelling as the point of the needle pierces the thread. The outcome does depend on the weave of the silk you are sewing. For example, a twill that has a diagonal weave can be more susceptible to rotation than an open weave, such as chiffon.


Older or thicker needles may also leave holes in the fabric. Be cautious about oversewing!


Choose a thread suitable for the garment you are making. Either a super fine silk thread for a scarf, where the hems are not under pressure, or a more substantial thread for a garment seam. Don’t use a thread that is heavier than the fabric.

Need to unpick a seam?

Use fine snipsNever use seam-rippers for unpicking stitches. It’s too easy to snag a thread!

Machine Sewing

Look after your machine – always refer to the manufacturers guide before commencing a project!

Check for the recommended foot pressure, tension, thread length, etc. and test on spare fabric!

Get it serviced regularly and use needles that the machine manufacturer recommends.

Don’t pull the fabric through the machine when sewing as it may stretch or distort.
Machine Foot – Choose a walking foot for stability or a special hemming foot for scarves.

snips image
Fine Snips

Our range of silks have been especially chosen for their ability to hold colour and bring vibrant results when printed with the spectacular designs created by our customers. See our full silk fabric range for more details.


Silk does fray! 

The fine threads in silk will easily fray when cut. Here at The Silk Bureau, we use a hot-wire cutter that seals the cut edge of the silk and prevents fraying.

If you aren’t able to use a hot-wire cutter then we’d advise you invest in some good quality, sharp fabric scissors. Sharpen them regularly!

Whist silk thread is an incredibly strong material, it is still possible to tear the woven fabric, but only across the weft of the weave, NEVER the warp (this will distort and damage the fabric).  

hot cutter
Hot Cutter
Sharp Fabric Scissors

How to sew silk - General Hints

We can’t emphasise enough that silk is a delicate fabric. Treat it with great care! Don’t pull through the machine. It can easily distort and stretch the fabric.

Slippery surfaces! Silk can be quite slippery when sewing the shiny satin sides together. Use glass-headed fine pins to hold it in place. Some seamstresses would prefer to use a tacking stitch or fine tissue paper that can be torn away later to temporarily hold in place. Another option, particularly when making garments is to select a fine lightweight interface. Search the market for a transparent interface with a slight stretch that has been especially created for sewing silk. 

Don’t catch the thread! You may need to wear gloves if you have sharp or jagged nails and are working with a very delicate weave.

Ironing – Press the silk on a soft breathable surface with a steam iron on a cool setting.

Wash – As you would any delicate fabric. Maybe a cool wash, but we would recommend that finished garments should always be dry-cleaned.

Experts on hand

If you are designing for a scarf and are unsure about how to sew silk, we can do that for you! Simply get in touch for a quote or find out more on our scarf page.

Always sew with LOVE!

Take your time!

Practise, practise, practise! Use odd bits of the silk you are using to test the tension of your machine, the needles you are using or how stable the seams will be before investing your time and money on the final garment construction.  

We have our own in-house seamstresses

With our own team of experienced in-house seamstresses we offer scarf, cushion and studio finishing services. 

Please get in touch for details of how we can help with your project!

Printing Scarves


The processes involved in digital textile printing causes the original fabric to shrink. If you are printing scarves, the size of the finished product will be important to you. For example, if you have square artwork, you will be expecting your finished scarf to be square!

To get the printed fabric closer to the size you need, all fabric intended for scarves must go through an extra step to reshape it. Please allow extra time on your deadlines to allow for this process. 

Let us introduce you to the …


The stenter is an enormous piece of machinery that has many uses, including coating our fabrics and reshaping scarf orders.

After travelling through a solution to soften the fabric, it then passes over a flat bed, gripped on the selvedge edges to pull it back into shape. 

It’s a long and precise process that needs to be carefully monitored.

Shrinkage Disclaimer

If you have selected to use our hemming service, we will check the stentered fabric for you before we begin to finish your scarves. If you are not using our service, it’s up to you to check the size BEFORE you cut out the individual scarves from the fabric length. We cannot re-size after your scarves have been cut out.