How an ENTWINEMENTS scarf is made-1

2 October 2006

This is the first entry in this week’s series of how an ENTWINEMENTS scarf is made. This is an artisan process, it is done in my studio. It does NOT include the designing, color nor style. Designing is a time consuming step that has already been completed when this production process begins. I will illustrate with the production of Giant Star.
start materials.jpg
The starting materials are 5 or 6mm china silk fabric and silk thread. This is a very light weight, notice you can see thru one layer, plain weave silk also called habutai. mm stand for momme and is the weight of silk fabric, the larger the number the heavier the same size piece of fabric. The most common weight of china silk used in this country is 10mm, twice the weight of this silk. I use the lighest weight because I put so much yardage into each scarf I don’t want it to feel like wearing a yoke.
The reason that the scarves are so big is that pleating reduces the footprint of the cloth usually to a third.
That is if you start with silk cloth 108 inches long and pleated it with the pleats on the cross grain the cloth will appear about 36 inches long when you are done. Granted there are many variations to get more or less fabric involved in the pleating but this will serve to illustrate why the begining sizes are so large, not at all scarf like. The most of our pleats are on the bias…., any how all of that is figured out in the designing process. Here is a length of china silk cut for a giant star.
unpleated gstar.jpg
Big enough to make a dress!
So the silk from the bolt is cut to size and now must be hemmed with silk thread so that the threads dyes to match the cloth. Some of the hems are hand-rolled hems and some are machine rolled hems. Here is hand rolled hem:
hand rolled hem.jpg
And here is a machine made hem:
machine hem.jpg
The photos are not the same scale, the machine hem is only slightly wider than the hand-rolled but flater. Now one can tell the difference but after they are dyed and pleated there is no noticable difference. I’ll try to get photos at the end to show you.
Now working with this thin silk has it challenges, the fabric structure is easily damaged. Too much agitaion (dyeing or washing) and the normal toothed feed-dogs can damage the silk. We have a machine set up just to sew hems on this delicate silk; rubberized feed dogs, a tiny hole in the throat plate and fine sharp needles.
scroll hemmer.jpg
We do a scroll hem and the scroll part is attached to the machine in front of the presser foot. Thus there is still good pressure on the feed-dogs and the silk feeds smoothly. There is a funny reflection in the photograph that looks like a piece of plastic in there.
With everything set up properly the silk just zips throught the hemmer.
machine hemming.jpg
Now the scarves are ready to dye a base color. Tommorrow I think we’ll dye purple passion.


6 Responses to “How an ENTWINEMENTS scarf is made-1”

  1. Marguerite Says:

    Thanks, this is interesting!


  2. jackie Says:

    Do you sew with silk thread when making silk clothing or do you use cotton thread? Which thread is best when sewing silk clothing?


  3. Karren Says:

    I use silk because cotton or polyester thread does not dye with the dyes I use for silk. Nothing quite as annoying as a dark scarf with white thread all around the edges! Not the look I was going for.


  4. sunshine Says:

    such a lovely wrap and nice nice tutorial


  5. beth cinicolo Says:

    Great website! I was wonderign if you could help me to find some sites that sell already handrolled silk scarves but plain, one’s I could paint on myself. I know there out there because I’ve been to them but it was years ago.
    Much appreciated,


  6. denise hopper Says:

    Like Beth I too am looking for a good supplier of white hand rolled hemmed silk scarves at competitive prices for dyeing.


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