Hints for Making Silk Quilts

One of my favorite Christmas gifts . . . a glass writing pen.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts . . . a glass writing pen.

Happy New Year! It’s been a busy, exciting and exhausting season of family, fun, and way too much food. Believe me, I loved every minute of it, but now find myself longing for some quiet creative time. Like Pati, I feel inspired to pull out all the many bags and boxes of unfinished projects and start checking them off my list. Fortunately I don’t feel the need to give myself a timeline. I just want to enjoy the process.

Next weekend, I’m heading out on an annual retreat with several of my quilting students. I’m always a bit unrealistic on these trips and generally bring way too many projects, only to find that I’m lucky to complete just one. This year, my goal is to finish a wedding quilt I started several months ago. I am making it out of a stash of silk fabric samples that I purchased several years ago at our local Oakland Museum’s White Elephant Sale.

Silk fabric samples.

Silk fabric samples.

Last summer, Diana (McClun) gifted me with this stunning birthday quilt. It is made entirely of silk fabrics and silk batting. I know the photo does not do justice to its beauty so you will just have to trust me when I tell you it is spectacular.

Made & Designed by Diana McClun. Machine quilted by Kris Spray

Made & Designed by Diana McClun. Machine quilted by Kris Spray

After receiving it, I was reminded of my own silk stash and decided to sort through it and select a range of colors that the bride likes, to use for her wedding quilt.

Neutral colors for wedding quilt.

Neutral colors for wedding quilt.

Here are a few things I have learned from Diana when working with these beautiful yet delicate fabrics.

1. It is best to keep the piecing simple. For this reason, I’ve decided to cut 6-1/2″ squares and set them on point with sashings and posts.

2. Use a fusible interfacing on the backside of the fabric.  This will provide stability and prevent raveling along the edges. The interfacing also makes cutting so much easier as many silk and silk-type fabrics can be very slippery. A lightweight, woven fusible interfacing works well.

3. Pressing. I used steam and pressed on the wrong side of the fabrics. If the seams are bulky due to the addition of the interfacing, consider pressing them open. There’s a wonderful tool called The Strip Stick that is designed for this purpose. It was introduced to me by Jan Krentz. Seams can be easily pressed open without creating ridges on the right side of the fabrics. Click here for more information.

4. Sewing. Use a new sharp needle in your sewing machine. I used a No. 80 Sharp. Use the sharpest pins for holding pieces together (silk or long glass-head rather than ballpoint).

5. Quilting. Have fun with this. Just look at how luxurious both the fabrics and designs are showcased. I’m sure various types of battings will work, but Diana opted for silk which just adds to the quilt’s beauty.

Machine quilting by Kris Spray.

Machine quilting by Kris Spray.

Machine quilting by Kris Spray. Back of quilt.

Machine quilting by Kris Spray. Back of quilt.

I hope this might inspire you to try some of these often-avoided fabrics. I’ll keep you posted as I continue working on the wedding quilt.

Until next time, happy creating everyone!


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9 Responses to Hints for Making Silk Quilts

  1. Pingback: Quilt Retreat Update and Iron Caddy Giveaway |

  2. Cheryl Simpson says:

    Happy New Year Laura. I love the beautiful silk quilt. I, too, have decided to dive into my stash of unfinished projects. I have just finished a 66 x 77 quilt top made of miscellaneous blocks from my past. It turned out very well and next is to attack the quilting. Thanks for all the great inspiration. Cheryl

  3. Fern Royce says:

    Hi Laura,

    Beautiful quilt. Your post was inspiring – gotta get out my silk and start a new quilt – while also finishing the others I’ve already started!

  4. Lynn says:

    Had not thought of interfacing the back of silk but spray starch it to make it a bit stiffer and that helps a bit with the raveling. What interfacing do you use?

  5. Mary Ann says:

    What a beautiful quilt she sent you! Looking forward to seeing yours when it is completed. I would never thought that you could make a quilt with silk fabric and silk batting. Looking forward to reading your blog in 2014…………….

  6. Carol Barringer says:

    Thanks for the tips! I have a small collection of silk samples that I want to make into a quilt (“someday”). Some of them have a paper frame on the back. Do you know how can I get those off?

  7. Anneg says:

    This has inspired me to try patchwork, at least, with other fabrics – everyone seems to use so much cotton, yet I am sure in times gone by when there was a necessity to create patchwork that other materials were used quite regularly – though not silk I expect!

  8. Peggy says:

    Oooh, this is going to be so pretty. I’m looking forward to watch your progress. You are so lucky to have a friend like Diana, the quilt is gorgeous and I’m sure even more so in person. Have fun on retreat!!!

  9. rosyragpatch says:

    Lovely birthday quilt! Your fabric samples look gorgeous, I am sure your finished quilt will be a beauty.

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