Laundering Silk Organza

Laundering CollageWhen I blogged about my dress lined in silk organza, there were a few anxious comments. How would it launder? Wouldn’t the silk organza be ruined? But Susan Khalje says… Would the world as we know it come crashing down around our ears?

I’d pondered these questions myself. Not enough to stop me plunging ahead with the make – at the time, I was in the zone. When I saw these comments, I set out to make a test swatch of silk organza attached to a test swatch of the lawn cotton. It would go into the washing machine and be carefully analysed when it came back out. This was science, people!

Then, I spilled food down the dress. Greasy food. Not once, but twice. There goes my science test, I thought. This dress is going in the washing machine, results be damned.

I put it on a fast wash at 30 degrees. I left it to air dry. I ironed the dress. I climbed into it. Nothing. Nada. Zero ill effect. I needed my iron really hot to press out the creases in the silk organza, but that was it. The world was still turning on its orbit and I was wearing a pretty and clean dress.

But not all silk organza is created equal. I’ve bought some really coarse stuff that I’d never use as a lining. Mine is light as a feather and comes from English Couture, a supplier I rate very highly.

The moral of the lesson is: sometimes it’s okay to break the rules. It’s only sewing.

Simplicity 2215

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Laundering Silk Organza

  1. My understanding is that silk is actually very tough and will stand up to hot water and ironing (as you found out!). The issue is that it’s not very colourfast so we tend to wash by hand to avoid fading or separately to avoid bleeding into other items. So white silk organza used as a lining and washed as cotton shouldn’t be an issue! Glad it worked out – it’s a beautiful dress!

  2. Jon says:

    If you want to get the finish back to your silk organza lining and get out all those creases, next time you wash your dress, iron it BEFORE it gets totally dry. If you iron the organza when it is still damp and iron it until it is dry, it will come up just like new. You will get a better result on the cotton as well if you use this trick.

    • Fashionista says:

      I agree this is an excellent trick. My mother took it one step further, if she didn’t manage to whip the washing off the line prior to it completely drying (and as we lived in outback Aust she had about a 15 minute window from basket to completely dry!), she would then “damp” the items to be ironed. This involved sprinkling water over the items then ironing. I resort to the modern tool of the water sprayer 😉

      • francesca says:

        🙂 my mother used to do this – she said that the only thing that made ironing daddy’s army uniform (WWII) at all possible was sprinkling and rolling them up to get evenly damp. I don’t have the patience to wait that long….

  3. francescapia says:

    I subscribe to your blog and haven’t commented so far as I keep getting my wordpress password wrong and being locked out:(…. have tried to comment so many times, lost comment and gave up! First off – gorgeous dress! The fabric and fit are lovely, and the silk organza gives it the most lovely hang! I love using silk organza as a lining or as sew in interfacing, it’s perfect with most fabrics especially Tana – I used it for a bias cut drape collar and short sleeve cuffs in a 50s pattern, and they don’t even neex pressing… but I don’t give clothes a huge spin.. As a long term seamstress who was taught a few basics by my Aunt – who was adult in WWII – I always prewash everything. And I mean everything – silk, wool, tweed, you name it. (I’m in good company here – do you read lladybird? She’s brilliant). That way if necessary I can use water to treat stains on jackets, etc… And next time you get grease on your clothes, don’t use stain remover, put a heavy coat of talcum and leave it for at least a day, brush off and then wash. It is the absolute best for anything greasy. You might need to put stain remover after removing the talcum for any colour left behind, but this works without extra chemicals that can fade colour and is much more gentle on beautiful fabrics and colours.

    Anyway Aunty Bi taught me to pre-wash everything, and with fibres like cotton and linen, to soak them overnight before washing, to get all the shrink out of the way – much better than the two or three prescribed washes….

    I adore your dog, and love seeing him in photos with you. Did you match his lead with your belt on purpose?

    Oh, and btw – silk organza is the best as a press cloth – you can see through it, and it withstands high temps.


  4. francescapia says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while but never managed to post a comment before – wordpress and I don’t get on very well! In fact, I am being patient and trying again because even though I entered my brand new re-set password, it still didn’t seem to take my comment:(.

  5. francescapia says:

    Yes! OK, that was a test run -now for the real comment:). You just get better and better all the time. This is gorgeous. Fabric, fit, and the hang of the skirt with the organza is great. I love using silk organza as a sew-in facing too – it works wonderfully with Tana and up, in terms of weight. Made a 50s pattern in Tana with a draped collar and bias cuffs on the kimono sleeves both interfaced with silk organza, they stay beautifully – body but no stiffness or hardness – and hardly need ironing, which means I can keep that nice soft roll. Trick is not to spin too long, and hang on a hangar to dry. Oh, and silk organza is the best pressing cloth. You can see through it and use it on the highest temperatures….

    I pre-wash everything – learnt a few basics from my expert aunt who was an adult in WWII and thus used a lot of “vintage” techniques, and this is one of them – pre-wash silk, tweeds, whatever…. and with the shrinkers like cotton and linen, soak overnight and then wash. Much better than the two or three washes some people do to get all the shrink out. do you read lladybird? She’s brilliant, and she washes everything beforehand…. silk, whatever…

    Oh, and another tip – in Italy, restaurants never give you spray dryclean, but talcum. It is the absolute best for anything grease based, does not leave a ring, and the trick is to pile it on, and leave for at least a day. Brush off and wash, maybe putting a bit of stain remover first.

    I looove your dog, and I love how you always have him in your pics. Did you match your belt and his lead today? Too cute.

    • Tanya says:

      That is interesting and than you for sharing – will definetly use those techniques to pre shrink using overnight soaking, particularly when l use certain types of cotton twill, denim and the most notorious shrinkers of them all: Couduroy fabric!! Will save me a lot of time and heartache, especially when l’ve made a pair of trousers which gradually over time become Capri pants!!! 😧

      Can you please elaborate on the laundering of tweeds and other wool-containing fabric?. Are you saying that you soak in water overnight and drip dry? Thanks

      • francescapia says:

        You’re welcome:). No, wool as in crepe, tweeds, gabardine, whatever, I just wash, I don’t soak. On the wool wash in my machine. Same with silk. I let them be spun in the machine too, but not on too high an RPM, stops too much creasing – then I hang to dry. I usually tend to handwash the clothes afterwards – really handwash, not in the machine. Especially jackets, which I wash as little as possible – even if I use sew-in interfacing. I hate dry cleaning with a vengeance. It is so full of dangerous chemicals. So I make sure that in winter, I always wear a scarf to protect the neck, and just try to keep my jackets as clean as possible. I brush them every now and again, and then I use aunty Bi’s way of cleaning at the end of winter – old school:). Brush, check for spots, and check cuffs and collar. Use a bit of very gentle wash like Ecover Delicate or one of these no-rinse jobs like Eucalan on a sponge to dab at places that need it, use a damp sponge to remove the soap, and hang out overnight on a hanger so they get the night damp and then dry in the day sun – or inside in central heating, in the UK, I guess (I am in Malta). I had bought this butler’s handbook a while back and it used the same sort of method. Wool skirts and pants, I will wash, as needed. Sometimes like with wool crepe you might think it shrank but when you iron, it comes back.

        Silk, I handwash when it’s new, start machine “handwashing” when it’s older. The ones I soak overnight are all the cottons, the linens, and oh yes viscose/rayon – that can really shrink! Oh, and you MUST soak twill tape and those type of things – otherwise you will use it andd it will shrink up and tighten wherever you used it – heere speaks the voice of experience – beautiful blue linen skirt with hidden twill waistband – the hasssle I had to unpick it and work with that tiny frayed graded seam allowance to fix another – shrunk! – tape….. I had forgotten about the soaking thing after a longish hiatus from sewing and then experienced a couple of shrinkages – and suddenly remembered aunty Bi’s golden rule! Since then, never had a problem. It can get scary sometimes – like when you’re soaking something expensive which is a print and see loads of colour in the water. I usually change the water to cold a couple of times and if it keeps on running, stop soaking, chicken out and wash :).

        With the toughies like corduroy, I soak in tap hot water, and I sometimes change it and run very hot water again a couple of times. Then I wash in a hotter water than I would actually use – I rarely wash clothes at anything higher than 30. We were pushed for years to wash at high temperatures, and it really isn’t good for clothes. And not necessary either – unless we are digging fields.

        hope that wasn’t too much information:).

        Oh – one more thing. I was lucky enough to score a few pieces of fabulous Dormeiul – mohair wool, tropical 130s, more of that great stuff. All pre-shrunk. And definitely not to be washed, I was told very firmly. So I didn’t pre-shrink, and when they started to need cleaning, I washed chunks of left over fabric (by hand – I’m not that brave as ot machine wash precious fabric like that) – and saw that there was no change in texture or colour, just a tiny change in drape, so I went for it and washed them by hand. Fabulous :).

      • CurlsnSkirls says:

        I’ve been washing silks by hand for years & they do well. If they bleed a lot sometimes I’ll add white vinegar to the water & let that sit for a bit, then rinse until water’s clear. It does help. Have also started machine washing wool suits, including jackets, gently in cool water. (Best choice U.S. machines seem to offer.) So far, so good. Agreed! I hate going to dry cleaners because of chemical/pollutant issues.
        Have read a butler’s book, too, for this reason, but didn’t know about talc – thank you!
        (Do enjoy your blog tremendously, Karen. Thank you!)

      • francescapia says:

        Oh wow, I had totally forgotten the vinegar trick – thanks! Do you add it to the soapy water or to plain water?
        Yup, talc is awesome, all I use at home. In a restaurant if you’re not in Italy 🙂 you can ask for flour. In a pinch I’ve used salt and sugar and then talced when I got home. Restaurants here always rush at you with spray which ALWAYS leaves a mark, uff!

      • CurlsnSkirls says:

        I’ve added the vinegar to rinse water. Just be sure you then rinse the smell out!
        Lol! I don’t eat out much, so didn’t know about these different remedies. If I ever do, will know what to ask for if things get messy!

  6. Meh, I chuck all my silks in the washing machine. Silk is tough! But what I never do is throw it in the drier. That is where the damage is done.Being apartment dwellers means that sometimes we have special garments hanging all over the place air drying, but i can live with that 😉

  7. I love the Susan Khalje quote you used: “… Would the world as we know it come crashing down around our ears?” It will be good for me to remember those words as I am just getting started (again) and am absolutely terrified of ruining absolutely everything! Love your blog – always so informative.

  8. Joen says:

    Thanks for the science experiment! Good to know.

  9. Laura says:

    I have two types at home, very similar in hand and drape: the stuff that Susan Khaljie self on her website, and the “Italian silk organza” from MacCulloch Wallis. I used one of these (I think the Italian one but not sure) for underlining a linen dress and then laundered at 40 degrees + chucked it in the dryer. It slightly shrank length wise, I re-hemmed and went on my merry way.

  10. Shawna says:

    My brain is currently bursting with knowledge from all the things I just learned from this blog post and the comments, thanks!!!!

  11. Stina P says:

    I think it can vary on the quality of the silk organza – a good one has the sitffness in the weave/fabric in itself, while a not so good one has sizing in it that disappears when washed. I’ve been lucky to only encounter the good ones! (And pre-shrink it too; often in the (cleaned) kitchen sink at 50 degrees C – that way I know it will stand 40 degrees C.) And wonderful information from Francescapia – I love to learn how they did it back in the days!

    • francescapia says:

      How sweet of you to say so:). Sometimes I think I go on too much,it’s nice to know people like to hear about aunty Bi. No one sews now on Malta, except a few dressmakers, so blogs are great fun for me.

  12. rosemary says:

    Having never lined anything with silk organza, can I ask how it is over tights and stockings? Does it still end up sticking to your thighs like cotton?

  13. Stacy says:

    Great dress for each day! I like your mix with Converse!

    Stacy from

  14. aoteamedia says:

    such a lovely dress!!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.