Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sewing Lightweight Fabrics

Wednesday Tip of the Week

Tops, dresses, jackets and even skirts made of very lightweight to sheer fabrics are so pretty and popular these days. They're comfortable and they come in so many beautiful and intriguing prints. In fact, they have become one of my favorite fabrics to use in the many tops I like to make. But working with these thin, flowy and sometimes slippery fabrics can be a challenge. 

Aside from just dealing with the slippery nature of the fabric, the sewing machines requires some simple adjustments to ensure clean seams. The needle should be nice and sharp, so its best to always use a new one. And, it should be an appropriate size, such as a 70-80. A sharp, new needle will prevent any snagging or pulling. 

Reducing the tension also helps to prevent any puckering which can be difficult to impossible to iron out on these fabrics. And, I like to use French seams to contain the fraying seam edges that are a common characteristics of these types of fabrics. All of these, of course, are fairly easy adjustments that can make sewing with these special fabrics a bit more manageable. 

My tip for the week has to do with how I stitch seams using these fabrics. Its just good sewing to lock the stitching at the beginning and end of any seams, but how many times have you tried to backstitch at the beginning of a seam to find the fabric bunch up or get pushed into the throat plate causing an unsightly and frustrating knot just when you are just getting started to sew. You want the seam to be locked but no matter how many times you try you end up with a knotty, lumpy mess at the beginning and end of a seam.  The thread is almost too bulky for the delicate fabric and when doubled up with the backstitching a smooth, clean seam is hard to achieve.

So, I no longer backstitch when sewing with these types of fabrics. Instead, I begin each seam by adjusting my stitch length to a tiny 1.0 cm stitch for the first 1/4" of the seam. A gentle pull of the thread tails as you begin to stitch also helps to keep the fabric from pushing into the throat plate. Once past the first quarter inch, I increase the stitch to the usual length. When I get to the end of my seam, instead of backtacking, I repeat the process and stitch the last 1/4" or so with the tiny stitch.  

This provides just enough hold at the ends of the seam to prevent it from opening while working on the garment. So easy and you end up with a seam that is smooth and clean at beginning and end. No more messy knots or repeated do overs which usually cause the fabric to fray even more.

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