Last week on the blog Kristiann told us a bit about Victory Patterns – the indie sewing pattern company that she owns and designs for. I asked Kristiann for some tips on working with delicate fabrics and I thought they were so great, and detailed, that they deserved their own space in the limelight…
A couple of your patterns such as the Hazel dress and the Roxanne blouse call for lightweight fabrics, which can be difficult to work with. What are some tips for beginners working with these slippery fabrics?
There’s lots of tip for working with this kind of fabric, from cutting, handling, to the kind of tools you use. The small stuff counts! Be patient and you’ll find that it will all feel better in time! Here’s a few things you can do…
When cutting out your fabric, lay the fabric onto a sheet or onto tissue paper. This helps to keep the fabric from slipping around while you cut. Use fine pins or weights such as soup cans. Use very sharp scissors or a rotary cutter.
When cutting, handle the fabric as little as possible. Work around your pieces and avoid moving the fabric to work around you. Also, don’t lift the fabric off the cutting surface. Moving the fabric after it has been carefully laid cause it to shift and could result in a wonky cutting job.
Always test with two layers of scrap fabric prior to starting the project so you can get used to the hand of the fabric. Make sure that your stitch settings and tension is adjusted for your fabric.
Thread and needle: Sew with good quality thread and a thin gauge needle. A needle size of 60/8, 65/9 or 70/10 is suitable. The lower the number the finer the gauge of the needle. Also, If you’ve been sewing with the same needle for a while, it might be a good idea to start with a fresh one so that the tip is sharp. This will help to eliminate puckering and snagging caused by and dull needle.
Backstitching: Hold the threads as you backstitch at the beginning of a stitch. This helps to avoid a messy backstitch and prevents the fabric from getting sucked into the feed, which can easily happen with lighter weights.
-I find that the way to handle lightweight fabric is to hold the fabric taut so that one hand is holding the fabric just behind the needle, and the other is in font guiding the fabric into the machine. By pulling the fabric taut, you are creating rigidity along the fabric surface, which prevents it from slipping.
Pull just enough to create a rigid tension on the fabric, but not so match that you’re going to affect the way it feeds through the machine. Doing so will affect your stitch, and make them inconsistent.
-Make sure fabric edges are aligned. Because the fabric is more slippery, this is something you have to pay attention to. If you want to take extra measure, hand-baste prior to sewing the seam together. This can be don in place of pins to prevent the fabric from stretching and distorting as you sew.
-To prevent slippage, you can sew with a strip of tissue paper along the seam, tissue facing the feed dog side. Once the seam is sewn, tear off the tissue. You can also use a stabilizer along the seam edge, such as a spray on starch. This will help you to manage the fabric during construction.
-You can use a straight stitch throat plate which has small needle entry hole. This prevents the fabric from getting sucked into the needle hole.