Yes, I put silk in the washing machine … and the dryer, too!

Update on yesterday’s post regarding washing silk: I had read that you could prewash silk in a washing machine. So I did it. And although I did NOT read that you could put silk in the dryer, I did that, too. Silk in a dryer? That’s my version of living dangerously.

While it was in there, I decided to Google whether that was an OK idea. And the Magic 8 Ball that is the Internet came back with “Outlook not so good.” Yikes!

I ran to the dryer to pull out the silk, but it was already dry and about to enter the cool-down cycle. And it was intact. No visible heat damage or pulls or streaks of white as warned.

In fact, the silk was a lot softer than when it went in. It was a little stiff and crinkly and — dare I say it — polyester-ish when it went in. I don’t know if the improvement is due just to the washing, as some say, or the inappropriate application of heat as well.

Regardless, the silk has a nicer hand now.

Washing silk in the machine really should involve a lingerie bag and NO HEAT. I’ll stick to the rules next time, but this time I came out aces. And my blouse when it’s done can go in the washing machine, handwash cycle. Lucky me!

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8 thoughts on “Yes, I put silk in the washing machine … and the dryer, too!

  1. VeraVenus October 11, 2011 at 1:02 am Reply

    I frequently machine wash and also machine dry new silk before making it into something! Using the dryer really depends on how much of a hurry I’m in…
    As you have found it washes all the size out and makes it feel much softer.
    For crepe de chine, silk charmeuse and silk broadcloths I do it as a matter of course. Some people don’t like the ‘bloom’ the surface gets from being roughed up but I like the vintage-y feel
    I’ve had bad results with chiffon and marrocain and some georgettes as almost impossible to press out nicely and get the grains true again to cut really accurately . A good steam prior to cutting is definitely preferable in some instances.
    It’s nice not to be ruled by the dry-cleaners!


    • Jeanne Marie October 11, 2011 at 8:04 am Reply

      Wonderful! I’m glad I can do this again. Depending on how this next project goes, I’ll be using more silk in the future. Do you have any advice for cutting it out? I know it can be tricky. I’m going to underline it, so I’m thinking of cutting the silk and batiste as one. That should keep the silk from shifting, but I don’t know how tricky that might be.

      Sent from my iPhone


      • VeraVenus October 11, 2011 at 8:26 am Reply

        Can I ask what kind of silk are you using? Depending on your answer underlining with batiste, which has no give to it really, could be problematic.. your washed silk may ‘relax’ and then droop a little but the batiste wont. A broadcloth or shirting silk should be ok but if its a crepe type silk you may want to rethink using batiste or even underlining at all. A loose lining could work better for you in the long run if your reason for doing it is because of see-through issues.

        As to cutting out: if you put a layer of thin paper or tissue underneath to stabilise you can certainly lay the underlining and the silk together for cutting out though getting them laying smoothly on top of each other can be enough of a pain that cutting them seperately may be less stressful 🙂
        On really thin silk I often use two layers of paper, one under and one on top, having drawn my pattern onto the top layer and pin through all layers. On more stable fabrics one layer of paper underneath seems enough to help the whole process enormously.
        Cutting out is always my least favourite part!!


        • Jeanne Marie October 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm Reply

          It’s a thin smooth weave with a little stiffness to it, though not as much as before washing. It feels very much like some lining fabrics, definitely not a charmeuse or crepe. It’s dark blue with a gray floral on it, so underlining was not for show-through. I’ll be making a blouse (Colette’s Sencha). There is a neck facing and short sleeves cut with the bodice that have self hems. I didn’t want to stitch those to the fashion fabric; I wanted to catch stitch them to an underlining. Underlining is a new frontier for me. I welcome all guidance!

          I bought A generous cut of fabric. I might test-drive the underlining idea.

          Sent from my iPhone


          • VeraVenus October 12, 2011 at 1:42 am Reply

            I do see your reasoning behind the advantages of underlining but give you this to consider: hand stitching the sleeve hems would hardly show at all on dark fabric and does the facing need more than to be caught to the shoulder seams to hold it in place really? An underlining could add a bit of bulk at the release points of the bust tucks…
            Lol I’m only playing devils advocate here as I try not to create more work for myself unless the final result will outweigh the added aggravation and underlining brings its own set of little problems.

            It’s a pretty blouse style and sounds like it will look great in your fabric. If you’ve never tried cutting out with a layer of tissue underneath maybe give it a go as it really does help with shifty fabrics.
            Good luck 🙂


            • Jeanne Marie October 12, 2011 at 7:10 am Reply

              Thank you for the great wisdom. I’ll definitely give it some thought and see how the muslin works out. That should be helpful in determining how to handle the sleeves. I’d love to save work, if possible. I will absolutely use the tissue paper tip. I REALLY appreciate the help!

              Sent from my iPhone


  2. Celeste September 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm Reply

    I had two different silk shirts that I purposely machine washed (I never put them in the dryer though) to see how they would look afterward. They lost that special/expensive slight sheen that they had before they went in. It wasn’t something that a casual observer would even notice. But i noticed, and was kinda bummed. They were still beautiful shirts, but i ended up giving them away.


    • Jeanne Marie September 11, 2017 at 8:42 am Reply

      I’m sorry to hear washing silk didn’t work out for you and you ended up giving the shirts away. I prefer a little less sheen myself.


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