Fabric Geek-out: Sandwashed Silk

I recently picked up four yards of midnight blue sandwashed silk from my local fabric store’s remnants bin. It’s a gorgeous piece, and warrants some research on how to handle it.


Silk is a filament fiber, which means that unlike short spun fibers, the fibers don’t need to be twisted together to form lengths of thread. It’s extremely strong, and because the fiber filaments are triangular in shape, it reflects light, giving it a shiny appearance.

Sandwashing is when the silk is washed with abrasive chemicals which “polish” the finish of the silk. The piece that I bought was extremely, well, silky, in appearance, with a smooth glossy finish and a very soft drape. It also has the diagonal texture characteristic of a twill weave, although this is only apparent upon very close inspection.

Emma One Sock recommends washing with a tiny drop of baby shampoo. I did this, and it took off the very glossy finish. It also significantly reduced the static of the piece. Depending on your plans for the garment, you could go either way on this. If you are looking for a very dressy piece, you might want to skip washing. However, if you do wash it, you’ll get a washable garment, and my guess is that the washed product will be significantly easier to sew because it seems much less slippery.

Sewing requires a sharp, new needle. I haven’t done a pin test yet to check if the fabric self-heals from pin holes. Also, because it’s still slippery, I’ll probably cover my table with a cotton sheet when I cut.

ETA: I did the pin test. It’s fine.


5 Responses to “Fabric Geek-out: Sandwashed Silk”

  1. avril Says:

    wash sandwashed silk with fabric conditioner. I made a dress 10 years ago, wah it in the machine on a delicate cycle- it looks and feels better every time!

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