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Machine Wash Silk?

Working with Silk Fabric

What happens when you machine wash silk?  Turns out not much…

 

Couple of apologies.  First, very early in, while I’m talking, you will hear a loud crash followed by me rolling my eyes and laughing.  That is the sound of my 116 pound Rottweiler Bubbles (yes Bubbles) trying to join the fun.

Next, I say during the initial measuring process, that I have four yards and five inches of silk.  But if you look at the tape measure, I actually have four yards and four inches.  Sorry, folks, still new to video and don’t yet know how to edit dialog after filming…yet…

Now to Disclaimers.

I have a front load machine.  The ladies who all recommended machine washing also all said they had front loading machines.  This is not to say if you have a top loader you are consigned to hand washing silk for all eternity, or even just until you get a front loading machine.  My recommendation for top load machines, is to put the silk in a mesh lingerie bag.  This will prevent the silk from wrapping around the agitator bar and possibly pulling the fibers beyond their natural stretch.

So with those caveats in mind, some before and after shots of machine washed silk.

Silk Damask Luxury Fabric
Before machine washing….
Still gorgeous, even after washing
Machine washed silk is ready to sew
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Stains!

Sweat Stains...

At the event last week where we were vending, the concept of washing silk with soap and water for removing stains seemed to stun many people.  We shared two of the three pieces we’ve washed.  We shared the Grease Stained Glorious Gold Damask and the Marinara Stained Cotton Candy Damask.  It was great because as soon as we showed these two pieces of formerly messed up and begrimed silk, the wonderful people of the SCA started giving me ideas for what else they wanted to see smeared on silk and how I might go about removing those stains.

So while the last week has been a mad flurry of unpacking, organization, and yard work (bureaucrats…they…are…EVERYWHERE), so that TODAY I don’t actually have anything to present for cleaning.  What I do have is a long list of suggestions for what the people want to see done to silk.

Torture Tests which have already completed:

Grease, “Water Stains” and Marinara Sauce

Suggested damages:

Coffee. Coffee with milk.  Red wine and white wine.  Tea, cocoa, chocolate, and soda. Beer, ink, blood, mud, baby food, spit up (there is a story behind that one), sunscreen with avobenzen (which causes discoloration on fabric), vinegar, salad oil, dog slobber, bug spray, lipstick, mascara, foundation, grass, condiments, sweat stains, and “natural human protein” stains (we are a sick sick crowd…)

Whew!  That list should keep me going for a while.  But there is always room for more.  So if there’s something you want to see smeared on silk for later removal, please feel free to comment here. Or email info@damaskraven.com, post to our Facebook Page, or make a suggestion to the Facebook group, Care and Feeding of Silk.  There are many ways to get your question on cleaning silk to us and we will gladly follow up as quickly as we can.

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Indigo Dyed

While at Golden Beltane last week, I met many fabulous people and had a generally grand time.  Among the fabulous people was the wonderful and lovely Eirny Thorvaldsdottir of The Treasury.  Eirny was offering to dye fabric or garments indigo in the vat she had on site and available.  Having just cut off a 2 yard piece of white Habotai to make an impromptu veil, I decided, sure!  Let’s see what indigo does to silk.  Indigo does this to silk:

Snow Light Silk Habotai BEFORE and Indigo bath...

Snow Light Silk Habotai BEFORE and Indigo bath…

Indigo Dyed formerly white Silk Habotai
Indigo Dyed formerly white Silk Habotai

The results were beautiful and I now have a lovely piece of cloudy blue silk veiling.  When she dropped it off, Eirny commented that she wished we had video of that since it was fun to watch the color change (Yes!  It changes before your very eyes!)  I said “I KNOW WHAT WE CAN DYE NEXT!!!!”

See, I designed this fabulous byzantine pattern and had a sample of it in white.

Byzantine design in white
Byzantine design in white

Now, this small piece of sample came off a larger sample piece, which I had tucked in to a box to prevent it from getting all dirty in the camp conditions.  So now we had almost a full yard of white Byzantine damask to dye.  And thanks to Eirny, here was the result:

You literally watch the color change from white, to greeny/yellow, to a beautiful robin’s egg blue in less than two minutes.  And after a second dip in the dye, the finished Indigo Dyed Silk Damask looks like this.

Byzantine in Blue

Byzantine in Blue

So yeah, the plan is to carry the Byzantine design in the originally scheduled purple with a smaller yardage available in white, for those who wish to try their hand at dying silk themselves.  Thank you Eirny, for bringing the Indigo and letting us record the process!

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Italian Marinara Sauce is no match for Dr. Bronner’s

I’m having great fun staining silk to see what washes out and how and thanks to all the wonderful people at West Kingdom’s Golden Beltane the list of stains to try has grown even longer.  But just before leaving for Golden Beltane, I stained this ordinary piece of Cotton Candy Silk Damask with marinara sauce from pizza.

 

Ordinary piece of Cotton Candy Silk Damask
Ordinary piece of Cotton Candy Silk Damask

 

What actually happened is I had decided to try the pizza sauce so I cut out the scrap I wanted to try it on, went in to the kitchen to get some pizza, and my boyfriend was dipping bread sticks in marinara sauce.  I went “Oh, marinara sauce will work!” and stuck my finger in the sauce, scooping out a whopping chunk of it.  He looked at me like “I…I was totally going to dip my bread stick in that…” hung his head in defeat, and looked at the microwave while it finished heating his pizza.

 

So now I had this…

 

 

Deliberate Smear Campaign!
Deliberate Smear Campaign!

 

Which I allowed to dry overnight, resulting in this…

 

Extra crunchy tomato paste!
Extra crunchy tomato paste!

 

The first thing I did was flip it over so the water was flowing through the back side of the stain, pushing any food chunks back the way they came as I thoroughly rinsed the silk.  This technique works on pretty much all stains.  If you can push em back the way they came then stains seem to life easier.  Next, I dosed the area with Dr. Bronner’s Soap and worked the fabric with my hands, building up a good lather before thoroughly rinsing out the soap.  ***DISCLAIMER*** As with my post on Grease Stains I used a scrap of fabric which had been pre-washed, so I knew there would be no color bleed during this experiment.  If you have not already washed your silk, color test first!

 

And the end result was this…

 

Soaped, rinsed and dried
Soaped, rinsed and dried

 

Followed by a good ironing to pull up any residual grease stains, of which there were thankfully none (although we now know how to deal with grease stains should they happen 🙂 )

 

Cleaned, Ironed, and Stain Free
Cleaned, Ironed, and Stain Free

 

And that was how I removed marinara sauce from silk.