Mulberry silk laps: how-to guide

It was fun to work with the Mulberry silk laps, and I am very happy with the result. With my work, I have tried to answer a question: why should one use the Mulberry silk laps for a piece? So here are my thoughts and suggestions. I hope you’ll find them useful!

In the picture, you can see both the shawl that I made for this post and a dress. This is the demonstration that with the Mulberry silk laps the possibilities are endless.


Mulberry silk laps: what they are and how to work with them

For those of you who have never seen it, I must say that the Mulberry silk laps are an incredible sheet of silk fibers, usually about a metre and half wide. Each sheet is made up of multiple layers of fibers, which can be peeled quite easily, thus allowing one to get even very thin layers with which to work.


These featherlight silk sheets are then spread out and stretched to create a kind of spiderweb, which contributes to create some beautiful effects, thanks to the very long fibers that run all the way across it. Also, keep in mind that silk is a very strong fiber, and it can be stretched up to over 4 times it's original size.
In addition to being a very strong fiber, Mulberry silk felts extremely quickly, so much so that basically making this piece took me half the time than what it would have taken if I had made it by felting wool or silk fabrics.


Why use the Mulberry silk laps?

The advantages:

  • Even though at first sight the Mulberry silk laps may look like a very expensive item, if you consider the really small quantity you need for an article of clothing,  it actually isn’t costly at all
  • It is perfect to use together with prefelt
  • If you use it as a base instead of silk fabric, it felts more quickly
  • If you spread it out on top of a layer of decorations, it will hold them in place during the felting process
  • It creates unique reflections


If you have a bit of time and you want to find out more about this extraordinary product, try to realize the project that I have thought up for you.

Making a shawl using the Mulberry silk laps as a base

MATERIALS
Mulberry silk laps (2 layers) 
Piuma yarn 50 g col. Natural White 50 g / 1.7 oz
Extra fine merino wool tops / Mulberry silk tops (optional) col. Natural White 30 g / 1.1 oz
Olive oil soap
Prefelt (to cut out some decorations)
Wool buttons

Piuma - 100 g - The Classics Collection
Natural White
1 pc. € 7,97
A1 Grade Mulberry Silk Laps - Raw Colors
Natural White
50 g € 10,80
500 g € 90,03
A1 Grade Mulberry Silk Tops (Sliver) - Raw Colors
Natural White
50 g € 6,19
100 g € 11,87
500 g € 54,19
1 kg € 103,22
120 cm wide 80% Wool 20% Silk Pre-felt
Melange Storm
1 m € 17,96
5 m € 87,82
10 m € 172,40
30 m € 506,43

METHOD
Before you get started, think about the size of your project and choose a suitable table, because when you work on large pieces, the surface on which we are working can make a huge difference. I recommend you should find a work surface of 90x180 cm, minimum.


Prepare a bowl with warm water and soap (I recommend you should use olive oil soap because it is a mild kind, and is certainly better for you hands). Cover the work surface with bubblewrap, with the bubbles facing up. Then, put a very thin sheet of plastic on top of it (this is going to be useful should you need to flip the piece around).


Spreading out the fibers
If you intend to work with a pattern, lay it out on the table and spread out the silk laps, leaving a clear margin of about 6-7 cm. Otherwise, just spread out the Mulberry silk laps directly onto the table.


Wet the laps with soapy water, just enough to make sure that it won’t move in the next steps of the process. At this point, you can lay out the wool in a very thin layer (you can use either pure wool or a silk/wool blend -- I prefer the latter as it makes the piece stronger). Spread it out on all sides, leaving at least 6 cm of extra material around each edge of the pattern. Once you are finished, wet the wool again.


At this point, start decorating the piece. For my piece, I used wool buttons, crochet flowers and prefelt cutouts. There are no fixed rules: what matters is that you are satisfied with the final result.  Once you are done with this part of the process, wet the surface once again.



Finally, lay down one last light layer of Mulberry silk laps. As I said before, this will help you hold the decorations in place during the following steps of the felting process, and will also give the whole surface a shiny touch.


Felting
Generously wet the surface with soapy water, cover with a think plastic sheet, and gently rub in a circular motion.


Roll the piece around a pool needle. Roll it back and forth for 15 minutes. Then, unroll it, wet it and roll it back and forth in the opposite direction for another 20 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times. Once the piece is slightly, but not completely, felted, you may remove the pool noodle and the pattern sheet.


Fulling
The piece is now ready to be fulled. Knead it like bread, using warm water to accelerate the process. Be careful not to over-felt it!


Once you are done fulling, rinse in warm running water and then remove excess water. Dry and steam the piece. This will make the felt softer and will give the piece a more professional look. 


Done!!! Happy?


Enjoy the Mulberry silk laps, Charity ;)


If you liked this article maybe you would also enjoy Mulberry silk laps: Caroline’s experiments.




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