Tutorial Tuesdays: Working with Slippery Fabrics

Happy Tuesday Friends!

Today I’m talking about slippery fabrics. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t really think about a fabric’s level of sewing difficulty when designing a garment. I sketch it and based on feel and drape I just go with whatever works. Of course, this is coming from someone that has limited “serious” sewing chops, so pretty much everything that I branch out to do at this point is uncharted territory. I learned this recently with week 1 of Project Run and Play. I sketched my design, and based on color and how I wanted the garment to move, I purchased taffeta and organza without giving it much thought. It wasn’t until researching the right sewing needles to use that I came across tons of horror stories about how difficult those two fabrics were to work with. Ha! Ha! So what’s a girl to do when she has to meet a deadline and finds out that she probably picked THE most persnickety fabrics to work with? Why she jumps in feet first, of course.

I had a wonderful book on hand called, The Fashion Designer’s Textile Directory: A guide to fabrics’ properties, characteristics, and garment-design potential by Gail Baugh that I highly recommend. Here’s some information that it lists for taffeta and organza:

Taffeta:

Strengths – The crisp hand is ideal for full exaggerated-silhouette designs. The ribbed texture and lustrous, sometimes iridescent, color is highly valued for women’s formal apparel. Can be calendered for more surface luster or have patterns embossed into the ribbed surface. Excellent fabric for outerwear in polyester/nylon blends.

  Weaknesses - Noise or “rustle” of the fabric can be undesirable. Limited use — difficult to use in tailored designs. May wrinkle badly.

Organza:


Strengths
– Crisp hand. Sheer appearance. Doesn’t require interlining. Light weight makes it a suitable layering fabric.

Weaknesses -  Crispness and surface texture can be difficult to control in production. Raw seam edges must be clean-finished if the seam allowances are visible.

 

After reading numerous suggestions and reviews, these were the products that I armed myself with before beginning my sewing adventure:

Fray Check -  Even with pinking shears, taffeta frays like nobody’s business and organza runs like pantyhose (seriously). Fray Check is great for halting those pesky runs; however, you have to use it in limited amounts or risk staining your delicate fabric.

Spray adhesive – I used  spray adhesive to bind seams together before sewing to eliminate the slips. It didn’t stain like regular fabric glue. Be very careful not to over spray or it will leave stains. Also, the spray from the adhesive can be bothersome. I cracked a window slightly for ventilation. I only used a little, but I found it to be a bit overpowering without proper ventilation.

Pinking Shears – I cut out all of my fabric using my pinking shears to curb some of the frays. I left those seams “as is” that were hidden by lining because the fraying was minimal especially when using the Fray check.

Tissue Paper – Tissue paper is great for stabilizing slipper fabrics (keeping them from slipping around under your presser foot).

Small Sewing Needles – I used a 65/9 but I’ve seen it suggested to use an 8 or 10 also. The 9 worked perfectly for me.

Pressing Cloth – Taffeta stains easily– water stains, heat marks, you name it. The pressing cloth is a great way to protect your fabric when ironing.

Pattern Weights – Pins leave holes in Taffeta. Use pattern weights strategically to avoid puncturing your fabric unnecessarily.

 

Here are some things that I did NOT use but heard were helpful:

Serger to help with fraying

Rotary cutter and Mat  (I preferred my pinking shears)

Small hole needle plate to keep the fabric from sinking

Roller Foot

Hand Sewing a 1 inch basting seam

My take away:

Initially I was apprehensive about sewing with these fabrics because of all of the extra precautions that I was advised to take, but honestly in the end, it wasn’t so bad. I started sewing with the tissue paper in the beginning and then forgot to put a piece in. Everything was just fine. No puckering and no nightmare. I continued to sew without it for the rest of the garment.

Fray Check is definitely needed. Just use it with a light hand so that you don’t stain your garment.

I sewed using a 2.5mm stitch length and had no problems.

Taffeta has a tendency to pucker. After sewing, I’d start at the top of a seam and gently press the seam between my fingers and thumb (like pressing/sealing an envelope shut) from the beginning of the stitch line to the end. This usually removed any puckering. If that didn’t work, I’d iron everything flat using my pressing cloth. I used the lower/medium silk setting, but you should always test your fabric first.

It was recommended that I use a lightweight thread when sewing with taffeta. I was only able to find lightweight matching thread for one of my garments. So I just chanced it and purchased a multipurpose thread for the second garment. I actually preferred the multipurpose thread. Then again, I used a polyester taffeta. The lightweight threads probably work better with silk taffeta.

The only problem that I had with the organza was the fraying. It didn’t just fray on the edges like most fabrics. It would run down the center of the fabric (just like pantyhose). Fray check helped, but didn’t prevent everything.

Taffeta can be finished using a variety of common methods, but by far my favorite method for finishing organza is the hairline seam (see organza pic above). It hides your seams and looks very pretty on the inside and out. Here’s a link to a great video tutorial by Gretchen Herch: Hairline Seam Tutorial

 

Planning to sew with taffeta or organza? Here are a couple of book recommendations:

The Fashion Designer’s Textile Directory: A guide to fabrics’ properties, characteristics, and garment-design potential  by Gail Baugh (Great, great sewing resource!)

Sew Any Fabric by Claire Shaeffer (Haven’t read, but heard good things)

 

Thanks for stopping by today!

Don’t forget the Project Run & Play voting starts again this Friday.

 

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing

I started off sewing with the tissue paper,

 

  • Tamika

    Ha! I feel the same about the projects I’m doing being uncharted territory. There is something about just jumping right in. You did a great job.

    • Shannon_CC

      I think stretching ourselves is a good thing. You never know what you’re capable of unless you try. New projects, huh? I’m curious. :)