Pleating, Smocking & Caring for Silk Dupioni


Left: “Envy” by Susan O’Connor (AS&E #75), Right: “Tea Rose” by Kris Richards (AS&E #80)

Sewing Christmas garments for children brings so much joy to the sewing room this time of year. Don’t we all love seeing our children and grandchildren dressed up in the special outfits we make? Of course, special occasion garments call for specialty fabrics, and you can never go wrong with silk dupioni, or dupion as it is sometimes called. Silk dupioni is a wonderful fabric choice for special occasion smocked dresses and other garments, as full skirts and puffed sleeves made from such a crisp fabric hold their shape beautifully.

I ran across some wonderful tips in issue 75 of Australian Smocking & Embroidery for pleating, smocking and caring for silk dupioni garments – one tip states that to retain the wonderful crispness, this fabric should never be washed, only dry cleaned and it should only be pressed with a dry iron. Here are a couple more great tips the article shared on working with this fabric:

• Dupion is easy to smock but can be a little challenging to pleat. As it frays very readily, it is a good idea to neaten all cut edges with a machine zigzag or overlock stitch. Interfacing the back of the area to be pleated with a good quality woven, fusible interfacing, adds body to the pleats and stops them from forming knife creases. It also helps to pull the fabric off the pleater. Don’t let it flatten out or you may find it difficult to guide back into even creases. Most embroidery threads can be used on dupion but stranded silk is perfect as it has the same fiber content and care requirements as the fabric.

• Silk is a specialty fabric and does require special care. Garments should be cleaned after wearing, even if no marks are visible. Perspiration, in particular, causes discoloration over time and can ruin a silk garment. Colored silk is light sensitive so it should be stored away from both natural and artificial light to avoid fading. As it is a natural fiber it should never be sealed in plastic as the natural moisture content can cause mildew and odors. Despite these things, silk remains one of the most appealing fabrics available today. No other fiber takes color as well and silk seems to glow with an intensity that is unmatched. It has a smooth, warm touch that is both alluring and comforting.

If you’re shopping for a pleater, be sure to check out the Read pleaters available in our online store! We have both a 24-row pleater and a 32-row pleater, as well as replacement needles for both.

We’re having a great time with our Serger I Online Teacher Licensing group! Check out what Eileen C., one of our soon-to-be licensed serger teachers, had to say about how the course is going: “I am so glad I took this course. I am learning so much from the videos which are great. Each time I finish a project I can’t believe I did it. My husband is encouraging me to do the bonus projects when I finish the required ones. I am so thankful for this course and the great teachers and all I have learned.”

Drum roll please! I’m so excited to announce that our 2015 schedule of face-to-face events has been scheduled, and as usual, with our tried and true faculty and staff. Woohoo! I invite each of you to attend both the School of Art Fashion and a Martha Pullen Licensing. Check out the schedule:


We are opening registration this week for our School of Art Fashion Boutiques in Lakeland, FL and Atlanta, GA – click here for more information. We will have more details and open registration for the licensing events in the coming weeks so stay tuned … more info coming very soon!

We pray for the men and women serving our nation in harm’s way, and for all of you.

Much Love to You All & May God Bless,
Kathy McMakin


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