I was recently asked to do a product review of the Dupione Silk Collection from Plumridge, Inc. and believe me; silk is not just for garments and draperies anymore.
My first impression was of awe, as I looked at the master color chart and the 145 delicious colors.
Dupione (pronounced dup-ee-own) is a French term that describes the process whereby double-nested cocoons are harvested to make this type of silk. These double-nested cocoons create small bumps or slubs in the yarn when it is spun which results in the nubby fabric that is associated with Dupione silk.
The fabric from Plumridge is made on hand looms in India.
It is a cottage industry that produces about 4 yards of fabric per day on a loom. You can imagine how
complicated it is to make 145 colors that are always in stock. Because the fabric is hand made, they
are not stentered (framed) like machine woven fabrics. There are no pinholes on the selvedge, which
results in a slightly puckered appearance. A warm iron without steam will remove any wrinkles.
Never display silk in a sunny room, as the sun damages all silks. Silk fibers have exactly the same chemical construction as human hair, and the sun bleaches silk the same way it does hair. Most of the solid colors are iridescent and show two colors, which is a result of two different colors in the weft and warp when weaving.
I thought it might be fun to experiment with a textile I had
not quilted with before and found it to be an eye-opening experience. I had been supplied
with only three fairly small pieces of silk and the silk color master sample card. I hesitated for a few weeks before deciding I would try to use the fabric in all the ways a traditional quilter would, hand piecing, hand applique, machine piecing, fusing and hand quilting. I also wanted to have a design that would enable me to use the samples from the sales card, which were only 1 ½” X 2” (although there were 144 of them).
I realized I could not make a pieced quilt with all those
tiny pieces so decided to use an innovative design and incorporate all the techniques I wanted to include. I first decided to try to wash one of the larger pieces in mild soap: I should have followed the explicit directions. The fibers became hard and scratchy when they were wet, however, they did recover to nearly their original texture when dry. Believe the instructions and do not wash this product, it must be dry-cleaned. You should keep that in mind when you are constructing a silk fabric piece.
I found machine piecing a dream using a 60-weight cotton thread in both the top and the bobbin. Pressing was easy with a dry warm iron. Hand applique (the ribbon-like areas on the quilt) was lovely using a 100 weight silk thread. The silk applique thread made my rather large stitches just disappear in the fabric. I was thrilled that fusing did not present a problem and there was absolutely no fraying, and very good adhesion with a light weight-fusible. I used a lightweight cotton batting (I bet silk batting would have been yummy), and three strands of silk floss for the hand quilting. The thread slipped through the fabric like a hot knife through butter.
Quilting with silk fabrics is not really a new idea. Many, many crazy quilts used silk fabrics and some ethnic cultures have made bed coverings from silks for many centuries. I highly recommend your trying using Dupione silk in a project, the colors are beautiful and it handles by both hand and machine with ease.
Ask for Plumridge Dupione Silk at your local quilt shop.
Silk and Fine Textiles
1223 Wilshire Boulevard, #633
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Toll free 888-660-7455
©2004 Bonnie Ouellette
"On The Road" Reporter actually at home doing some quilting!