Tips for working with delicate fabrics
8 years agocybele727 @cybele727
I received as a gift from my Chinese exchange student several yards of imitation silk. It really is a polyester but so fine you almost can’t tell the difference.
I am going to use this one almost gossamer like fabric (with a lining) on the family reunion pattern. it is really an adorable print. And since it isn’t real silk I won’t worry about the stuff a toddler can do to it. Not that it will be everyday wear.
I can tell it will fray easily. Any suggestions on how to work with it.
I don’t want to damage it while sewing and I want to some how finish the seams or it will fray itself into falling apart.
Special needles? Thread tension? Feed tension? Thread?
Any advice would be really appreciated!
Jenny8 years agoSarvi @Sarvi
I’m pretty novice, but what I’ve done in the past to work with that kind of fabric:
1. To minimize fraying, I try to handle it as little as possible. This means I cut it out right before I use it (so it’s not getting jostled), and carefully think through my next step (so I am not going back forth, turning a piece inside and out too many times. I also try to see what the earliest possible point is at which I can bring in a seam finish.
2. I don’t think needle size and thread choice have much effect on fraying, but I do find that larger or less fresh needles and heavier or less slippery thread can kind of manhandle very fine fabrics at the seam line, causing some distortion. I’d use a finer needle and sew-all rather than all-cotton thread.
3. I think the best way to determine tension settings it to try a few out on a scrap, to see how your machine works. My particular machine sews nearly everything at about the same tensions, which start to loosen over time. When it’s been freshly serviced I almost always leave it on a 5 for thread tension and 4 for presser foot pressure. After a long time without servicing those numbers creep up a little. I don’t know how your machine works, though.
Once again, I am still a novice so hopefully somebody more experienced will be along shortly.8 years agoTamara @justsewit
I’d be inclined to get myself some fraystop if I were you. That will help minimise unnatural amounts of fraying once you’ve cut your pieces.
If you have a sewing machine dealer nearby, I would ask them what needles they would recommend for fine fabrics and hopefully they will point you in the right direction. As to thread, I don’t think it matters just choose the best quality you can afford (that is my rule of thumb anyway). Guterman is what I use all the time (except on heirloom sewing and this doesn’t fit that category).
As for tension, I would say experiment with scraps to get the right tension as only you know your machine best. If you have an auto tension, I’d be inclined to go with that – I don’t like to fiddle with the tension too much.
Sounds like a fun challenge to set yourself and a beautiful gift from your Chinese student. Can’t wait to see the finished project.
Tamara8 years ago
I recently made a ‘floaty’ shirt for my daughter Elsa. It was a nightmare to sew until I cut a thin strip(mm’s) of light flexible interfacing (McCalls) and pressed that (with a pressing cloth) to the seam allowance.
Looking at the shirt,I can see where I used it and where I didn’t.
I found that a huge help.
~Nicole~8 years ago
When I sew fabric that frays, I finish all the edges of all the pieces with a binding stitch before I sew them. Nicole, I am such a novice. Why didn’t you finish your edges instead of using interfacing? When I sew really lightweight fabric, I use a 70 needle. What is fraystop and is lightweight flexible interfacing regular featherweight interfacing or is it knit interfacing?8 years ago
I did finish them with a narrow zigzag. I used the interfacing to stabilise the fabric before sewing them together.8 years agoTamara @justsewit
Fraystop is something you use to stop fabric fraying – I think you dab it on with a brush and you use it on things like this. It comes in a tube and you don’t need to use an awful lot at a time so should last a while. Its handy for little things like stopping the ends of ribbon fraying also.
The only thing is I wish for larger jobs it came in something a bit more convenient but a tube is worth having if you can get hold of it. I was under the impression that because it is a product from the U.S it would be widely available so I’m a bit surprised.
It may not really be suitable for this sort of thing though as the process would take longer than making the garment come to think of it.
Tamara8 years ago
I am going to get some fraystop. Nicole, did you put interfacing on the edge, then finish the edge with a zig-zag, then sew the seam? Do you ever have seams fail after a few washings where you trimmed them closely? Like inside a collar? I have started finishing those closely trimmed seams as a way to prevent that. What do you do? The light flexible interfacing looks like the knit interfacing I bought to stabilize the seams in the knit Hopscotch top.8 years ago
I only used a very thin strip where I was straight stitching,I didn’t want it to affect the drape. I zigzagged the raw edges and then ironed on the thin strip of interfacing and sewed straight stitch on that.
I don’t generally have seams fail but I do sew a narrow stitch length on seams that will be closely trimmed.
I hope that makes sense.
~Nicole~8 years ago
I think I have trimmed some seams too close and used cheap fabric. I think your finished work always looks so perfect. Thanks!8 years agocybele727 @cybele727
OOOH i like that idea of thin strips of interfacing! Good tip.
Thank you so much.6 years agoAlison Cummins @Alison Cummins
This won’t be of any use to the original poster but maybe to someone else:
Since you are planning to line the dress anyway, try underlining it instead. This way the lining itself reinforces the seams.
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