Sewists who are used to using fusible interfacing or iron-on adhesive web for quilting fabrics and other cotton fabrics are often surprised to find that the same interfacing or adhesive web can make silk and silk-like fabrics stiff (I know I was surprised the first time it happened to me, and I’ve heard from several readers asking about the issue). The issue comes up in sewing Judaica when we want to add interfacing to a silk fabric that we’re using for an atarah (neckpiece) for a tallit, for example, or when adding silk appliques to a challah cover.
Here’s the solution: When using fusible interfacing with silk and silk-like fabrics, make sure to use tricot fusible interfacing.
Many fabric stores don’t carry tricot interfacing, so you might need to find a source online. You’ll find tricot interfacing in various weights suitable to fabrics of various weights.
Unlike iron-on adhesive web, fusible tricot interfacing only has adhesive on one side. So if you’re making a silk applique, you won’t be able to fuse the applique to the project; instead, you’ll have to pin or baste it in place until you finish the edges and sew the applique to the project. It’s not quite as convenient as being able to iron the applique onto your project, but the beautiful luster of silk makes the results worth the effort, especially for a special project.
To demonstrate, here’s a video tutorial on making appliques from silk fabrics using fusible tricot interfacing. You can watch it below or on YouTube. If you want to get right to the point, start at about the one minute mark in the video: