What should I do with Indian silk?
February 20, 2007 1:06 PM   Subscribe

What should I do with Indian silk? My boyfriend went to India and brought me back some gorgeous Indian silk fabric, which I have no clue what to do with. Theres probably about four or five yards...any suggestions?
posted by enaira to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Silk pillowcases?
posted by porpoise at 1:11 PM on February 20, 2007

pillowcases, table runners or drapes would be nice and pretty easy to pull off.
posted by stormygrey at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2007

Is it a solid colour or a pattern or something with finished edges for a sari?

I made a lovely infinity dress out of a sari length (those are typically in the 6 yard range) using the embroidered edges and the patterned section for accents. I can give hand waving instructions if required.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:19 PM on February 20, 2007

its patterned with unfinished edges. thanks for the advice!
posted by enaira at 1:35 PM on February 20, 2007

Window treatments. Direct sunlight is not good for silk, so let something heavier filter the light first.
(In defense of my manhood, someone who has actually done all this was sitting right next to me.)
posted by pants tent at 1:41 PM on February 20, 2007

How about using it to cover a padded headboard for a bed?
posted by MsMolly at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2007

I think MsMolly's idea sounds beautiful, but hair oils could be a problem, especially if you couldn't easily wash the item. Same thing for some of the earlier ideas about pillows. Silk shows spots and stains easily and it tends to be hard to clean well. Depending on the silk, the spots from hair oils might just give it character, or it might be kind of a blotchy mess.

If it's a small print, 4 or 5 yards would be plenty for a dress. If it's a larger pattern, it'd depend on how much you needed/wanted to pattern match with it. Long unstructured jackets in fancy silks look fantastic over basic black and can make a plain outfit really exceptionally special. With simple necklines, they're not even that complicated if you're a novice sewer.

Wrap skirts are an even more basic project, since they mostly require a touch of hemming and some button holes. They look great in exotic prints and fabrics, as well.

Whatever you decide to make, if you have scraps left over of any significant size, I highly recommend using them for wrapping paper, especially if you have a serger, and especially for the kind of soft items (sweaters, baby clothes) that normally require a box. I take a piece of fabric 10% wider than the width+height of a gift and 250% longer than the item's length+height. I serge the ends off in a decorative fabric, then fold the piece as if I was folding a letter to go in an envelope, and serge off the edges of that, sealing up the sides. Slip the item in to the little bag it forms and wrap with a ribbon or some pretty yarn. People are incredibly, massively impressed by this, because it's wrapped in fabric and sewed and OMG that's amazing!!11!!! The thing is I can sew up one of those bags in less time than it takes me to even *find* my wrapping paper, never mind a box to put something in.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:03 PM on February 20, 2007


Well, it would make him happy.
posted by Dasein at 2:05 PM on February 20, 2007

Throw pillows, an evening clutch. A wrap.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:05 PM on February 20, 2007

Another riff on jacquilynne's fabric gift-wrap idea -- make furoshiki. It's just a square of fabric, hem the edges by machine or serger, and then wrap and tie around your gifts. Utterly simple to make, gorgeous in a nice fabric, and reusable so the wrapping becomes an extra gift in and of itself.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 2:11 PM on February 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

Nothing beats a nice silk bathrobe.
posted by Vervain at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2007

For our wedding, we were given a similar amount of beautiful royal blue sateen with gold elephant pattern, which we turned into curtains. The nice thing about curtains is that you get to see great swathes of the fabric in all its glory. If you're worried about discoloration, you can easily make a double-layer curtain and protect the silk from the sunlight.
posted by louigi at 3:56 PM on February 20, 2007

This might sound like a waste of good silk, but it's not -- if you sew, you can use it to make a nice decadent lining. It's really nice to wear silk-lined jackets, etc. And if the fabric is beautiful, you can use it in a way that allows some of the lining to show.

I have a big pile of raspberry-colored silk I bought from Pakistan a few years ago and I'm still using it for a variety of things -- linings and facings for historical costuming, lining for handmade bags and pouches, etc. It's very thin silk so it doesn't work as a stand-alone outer garment very well, but it would make lovely lingerie, too. So it may depend on the kind of silk you got -- heavy, light, etc.
posted by litlnemo at 4:15 PM on February 20, 2007

maybe you could make a glowy silky wall hanging? very bohemian and simple-- drape the fabric around something tall- a window frame (i don't mean hang it as a curtain, more like a giant swag) or even just some nails or little hooks high up on a bare part of the wall. put christmas lights behind it. gorgeous! the effect shoud be like a more drapey, casual version of this.

people point out that sunlight will fade the silk-- you could always make a curtain for a non-window feature, like a closet with the doors removed (saves space in a small room), or hang from the ceiling as a room divider, or staple to the back of a bookshelf that's dividing a room, cover the front of a shelf full of crap, or make noren- japanese half-curtains for an interior doorway.

another option is to create a modified diy version of ikea's GLANSA hanging lamp- i can't find a good online pic, but basically it's a big cylinder of fabric, about 6 feet long and about a foot in diameter. put wire in the two ends to keep them open. hang a string of white christmas lights down the centre of the tube. hang it up. here is a link to a teeny-tiny pic that illustrates this. if you made more than one you could do like pillars around the bed, or one on each side of the sofa or fireplace or something like that.
posted by twistofrhyme at 9:35 PM on February 20, 2007

Do you even have a sewing machine? Like everyone else I'll assume you do and you've never worked with silk. Take your silk to a fabric store and ask them to pick out the needles for you that are right for the silk; this is important because silk tends to be slippery and can stretch or tear easily without the right handling while you sew. Then go nuts, you have enough material that you can waste a bit to practice on and still make a few pillows and a robe and maybe some other small things. Also look for a pattern for some kind of kimono top; they're also easy and have only a few flat seams and they work well with a drapey silk like the kind used for saris. Here's how to wash and sew silk.
If you don't have a sewing machine you could still do curtains with this stuff called Stitch Witchery or any other similar fabric adhesive to finish the edges, but be careful about using heat to set it.
posted by slow graffiti at 1:03 AM on February 21, 2007

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