I'm always on the look out too; it's all part of the #slowclothing mantra that I had discovered last year, and a silk dress was what got me curious about free motion embroidery as a repair technique. I have never used or sewn silk textiles before. They seem too delicate to handle and even putting a needle through it makes me think I'm damaging it. That is until my friend asked me to repair her black dress. It's a Chloe dress mind you and has lovely embroidered flowers running along the bottom half of it. The torn areas were under the arms and I really couldn't get my head around this one.
Was I going to use visible mending or invisible mending? And even if I wanted to make it invisible, how was it even possible with a fabric like silk?
I decided to go for quasi-visible/invisible mending - is there even such a term? The plan was to make the mend complement the beautiful embroidery, either through hand embroidery or using free motion embroidery. In the end the latter won the day and I used black DMC machine embroidery thread. Tear away embroidery stabiliser was used to ensure the silk would not get crumpled up and sucked into the sewing machine. To make things a tad easier to handle (because I do want to be in control of my sewing) I used an embroidery hoop as well. It might seem over the top but this is S-I-L-K!!!
Free Motion EmbroideryYou will need a darning foot and to lower the dog feeds (please read the instructions to your sewing machine as it may differ between machines). If you don't have the darning foot or have never tried free motion embroidery then it is better to use the normal foot, keep the dog feeds up and sew as you would normally. The whole idea is to cover up the torn areas with as many stitches as possible to reinforce the torn area.
I decided that the stitches would look like the original embroidered patterns on the dress - I did my best and ended up with some leaves on covering up the tears. The tear away stabiliser helped a lot because it kept the stitching in place and I didn't have to worry about causing further damage to the silk.