Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Silk Mill Review

Okay, I know I was going to do a fabric review for the 28ct I got in last week, but I figured since the Silk Mill skeins arrived first, they deserved to get reviewed first. It has nothing to do with the fact that they were for a design that I have been itching to start. Really, it doesn't. ;)

So what do I think? 

I really like them. In fact I love them. 

First, I will say, these are definitely not for the faint of heart or those that don't like to play and experiment. They do take a little bit of getting used to, there is a definite learning curve involved with using filament silks. That said, if you take the time to learn how to use them, you'll probably love the effect you get with them. They are also not really for everyday use, as in you probably wouldn't want to stitch a whole "picture" style design with them, like a Mirabilia or a HAED. However, they would be fantastic as an accent thread in these types of designs. Want to accentuate the tail of mermaid and make it shimmer? Want to make the moon glisten on the water? Want to make those wings sparkle? These are perfect. For a whole design of this type, they'd probably be overkill. However, for a sampler, anything goes, and these are wonderful for samplers.

As far as filament silks go, these are better than most. Here is a quick little review of how they performed.

Price - they're not outrageously priced. Each skein is 2.50GBP (just under $4 US, comparable to silks from Au Ver a Soie and NPI) and is 7 yards of 6 stranded silk. However, she also does silk packs with assortments of colours, which are much less expensive, especially if you just want a few colours to try out. The larger the set, the larger the discount.

Colours - they're available in 600 colours. I don't have anywhere near that many *yet* but I can say that the colours I do have are clear and vibrant and very solidly dyed. Not seeing any variegation, they're definitely solid colours. If you need help with picking colours, just email and ask, Wendy is ever so helpful.

Shine - holy cow! They're really super shiny. I put them above Eterna's MiniTwist, on par with Soie de Paris and just below Pearsall's for shine. I really tried to capture the shine in the picture and I think I got it pretty close. They sparkle beautifully, and overall give a really glossy shine.

Coverage - I'm using one strand on 40ct. The coverage is really full as you can see in the picture above. Not crowded, but defnitely dense. I think you could get away with one strand on 34ct. 32ct might be a stretch. That said they'd probably be a bit thick for something like 55ct. 45ct might be okay. For over one stitching, they're probably not your optimal thread if you like over one on 28ct and above - they're really just too thick for that. For 22ct or 25ct, they'd be really great I bet. I would also not recommend using two strands of this stuff for one reason and one reason only - they're slippery suckers. If you're wanting two strand coverage, I'd probably just stitch with one strand twice. Yes, it's more time consuming, but much neater with less frustration. Multiple strands will just slip and slide over each other and have a tendency to not lay nice and flat beside each other. I haven't tried two strands with this particular brand, but I have with other filaments and it's a learning experience, that's for sure. ;) Given that I mostly use one strand for everything, that's not a factor for me. Edited to add: The thickness of one strand is a fair bit thicker than DMC.

Fraying, unravelling - It's got a different type of twist (I don't know how to explain it, it's not necessarily tighter, but holds together much better) than most filament silks, so the thread stays nicely twisted while stitching and doesn't unravel so you don't get those flyaway bits that are normal with filaments. No fraying at all in fact. I started with a 12" strand, at this point I'm using a 24" strand and still no fraying. I'm trying to make it fray, but it just won't. :) Really stands up well to the friction of stitching. I'm using #28 Bohin needle with it, just for reference, and even though it's thick, the needle isn't wearing on it. I do recommend using high quality needles with it - something like Bohin or Piecemakers. The others I've used, like John James or DMC can have burrs in the eyes and they will cause a lot of issues with snarling up the thread. Not something I've tested with these, but I have with Eterna and you wouldn't believe the snarl ups a bad needle can cause.

Sticking - Okay if you've ever used a filament silk, you'll know the nightmare of threads sticking to the imperfections on your hands and having to scrub and use hand cream to help. Not so with these. My hands are a frightful mess - dry and flaky from constant handwashing and cleaning with bleach and lots of little nicks and hangnails and whatnot. They are NOT sticking to my hands at all. I have to admit I was really shocked by this, because filaments are notorious for it. 

Stitching - They're springy. It takes a little getting used to to get them to lay nice and flat, but it's not a terrible issue. After the first couple of strands I was right into the swing of it, and again, it's normal behaviour for filaments so it wasn't anything I wasn't expecting. 

Twisting and tangling - They do like to twist up a fair bit. When using shorter lengths (12") it wasn't that much of an issue, dangling the needle helped immensely. Since I switched to longer lengths to try and get it to fray, it's tangling and knotting a bit more. My fault though, I do know better than to use long strands, but I was trying to get it to fray! The thread is pretty curly when you first unskein it, so that is likely the reason they're doing it, and I would be willing to bet that dampening the strand would get the curls out and probably tame it a LOT. I'm going to try that today and see if it does help, which I'm sure it will. Basically, keep your strands short and dangle your needle and you'll be fine. Be careful when dangling, these are slippery and needles can slide off!

Overall, I give this thread really high marks. It's beautiful and will add some really neat texture and dimension to stitching. As far as filaments go, it's easy to stitch with. Disclaimer - there is no point in comparing it to how a spun silk thread stitches, like HDF, Soie D'Alger or Splendor because the way the thread is made is entirely different so it behaves very differently. Filaments are, by nature, more difficult to stitch with than spun silks. However, the way they gleam in the light is also very different so if you like playing with textures and effects, they're definitely worth trying. I can't wait to try some satin stitches with it!!

1 comment:

  1. What a great review, lots of thought and useful info.
    If I'm stitching with 2 strands I always cut one long length, thread the needle onto the middle of the thread and secure the two loose ends to the fabric (under the first few stitches usually). I find this much better than stitching with 2 separate strands or two loose ends like you get with a loop start.
    It might avoid the slippage problems you mentioned.
    Hope my description makes sense without a diagram, it's how lots of people hand sew when they're doing buttons or hems.