I singed my silk
January 11, 2010 12:23 AM   Subscribe

Any tips to help me repair the damage to a dress I've worn only once?

I accidentally burnt a small hole (about 1-2cm diameter) on the outer layer of a two-layered dress. According to the label, this layer is made from silk - it is a transparent, floaty fabric. Both layers of the dress are white (the outer layer has a coloured pattern on the hem). The hole is on the front of the dress and has dark brown edges around where the fabric singed. Although partly hidden by the folds of the dress, it is still noticeable.

This is a beautiful dress that I would really like to salvage. Raising the hem isn't an option due to the patterning on the dress. So far the best idea I have come across is to cut a hole where the fabric burnt - this would remove the brown parts and make the hole less noticeable. It probably wouldn't look too bad due to the under-layer of white. Someone also suggested clear nail polish around the edges of the hole to prevent fraying.

So, to people with experience/creativity in this area - do you have any other ideas for how to fix this dress? What would you do?
posted by abundancecafe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
can you upload a picture?
posted by nadawi at 12:25 AM on January 11, 2010

I would carefully cut away the singed part of the fabric, and then use fray stop around the edges to keep the hole from enlarging.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:48 AM on January 11, 2010

Response by poster: A picture is a helpful suggestion, thanks!
posted by abundancecafe at 12:54 AM on January 11, 2010

Embroider or attach a decorative element like a flower or bow over the burned area. Use something that will complement the style and colors of the rest of the dress.
posted by yohko at 1:54 AM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I wish we could see the burn in context also. Not just the burn.

To reduce the scorch, you can rub it with a raw onion (cut in half to produce the juice), very hard and that should remove a lot of the brown part. Then launder as usual.

Can't help you with the hole more than the others have suggested... unless you post a picture of the whole frock.
posted by taff at 1:59 AM on January 11, 2010

I would cut away the burnt part (with a tiny pair of nail or embroidery scissors), and then 'patch' it from underneath with a small piece of fabric that is close, if not an exact match.

Can you steal a small swatch of the white fabric from the underneath layer? From a side seam perhaps? And then patch the hole with tiny stitches? If it does fall in a fold/drape, I reckon a patch like that would disguise it well enough.

(If it was clumsy old me, leaving it as an open hole would be a guarantee that anything you walk past would 'catch' the hole and rip it further.)

Or take it to a seamstress or tailor. They are under-appreciated for the amazing things they can do to fabric.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:00 AM on January 11, 2010

If you really want to salvage the dress and have it be like new, it's definitely worth it to take it to a tailor and see what they recommend.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:02 AM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stitching will likely draw attention to the mending if you tried a patch on material that thin. Perhaps a very careful application of fabric glue and a little of the same fabric stolen from the seam would be better. Definitely let a tailor do it.
posted by slow graffiti at 8:40 AM on January 11, 2010

I would take it to a tailor or seamstress and see if they can just replace the outer layer entirely. Although it would be more expensive, this would result in a dress with no holes of any kind...just stay away from open flames!
posted by mlo at 9:37 AM on January 11, 2010

Best answer: I have come across this a few times. You see it a lot when you are working with antique/vintage fabric/clothing.

You have a few options, from the easiest/cheapest to the best/most durable/most expensive:
-You could just trim away the burn and leave it alone, giving you maybe two more wearings.
-You could trim it away and use something like Fray Check or Fray Stop. This would treat the edges so that they don't unravel more, but it will also tend to make it feel a bit plasticized and rigid.
-You can add a detail to cover it up - this could be a piece of trim similar to the border or something you find in the fabric store.
-You could (depending on your sewing skills and time or money to pay a tailor) make a tiny long dart after having cut away the burn mark. This will certainly be the most durable, but if you don't make the dart long and thin then it will take up too much excess and you will see a pucker instead of a burn.
-You can, and this is my recommendation, go to a good fabric store (not someplace like Jo-Ann's) and find silk that matches the colors in the border. Bear with me.
The point of the fix is to make it look as if it is intentional, not to try to restore diaphanous silk fibers. Go and find a piece of black/grey silk and another piece of silk in goldenrod - take these and cut (small!) rectangles that have the same proportions as the rectangles printed on your border but are still large enough to cover the edge of the burn hole and overlap by maybe 6mm or so all around. These can then be appliqued to the hem (one of them will cover your burnt hole) so that the overskirt looks intentionally made this way. It wouldn't take much. What you will have is an overskirt that has pieces that match pleasantly, symmetrically, and intentionally blended with the overall pattern of the skirt.

If you are in Chicago, I would be more than happy to show you how to do it. Otherwise, you can email me (it is in my profile) with pics and dimensions and I can electronically work you through it.

There is also a book called Sewing 911! that covers this kind of thing - you have to look beyond the terrible fabric and shapes in the examples to see the technique though.
Good Luck!
posted by Tchad at 10:29 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your helpful suggestions guys! Thanks especially Tchad for your offer of help, though unfortunately my sewing skills are nowhere near good enough to attempt your creative solution :). I will look into finding a tailor but at this stage I think Fray Stop may be the way to go. Thanks again everyone!
posted by abundancecafe at 3:56 PM on January 15, 2010

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