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By Annabelle Short on 03/05/2018 | Updated on 05/02/2024

13 Tips for Sewing Delicate Fabrics

Tips for Sewing Delicate Fabrics USA

Lightweight and delicate fabrics are perfect for summer garments, floaty curtains, fun kids' wear, and more. There are so many to choose from, like lace, chiffon, organza, and delicate tissue taffeta. Though these beautifully light fabrics all look and feel very different, they all have one thing in common: some special quirks that can catch unwary sewists off guard. They're no harder to work with than any other fabric, however, as long as you know what to expect. From choosing the right patterns to cutting slippery fabrics to getting that perfect finish, check out these tips and tricks for making your projects turn out right no matter how delicate your fabric.

1. Use a walking foot

A walking foot is designed to help both layers of your fabric move under the needle at the same time. With lightweight or delicate fabrics, this keeps the weave from stretching and warping your seams, and it's also helpful for keeping slippery fabrics like satin from drifting while you stitch. If you can't use a walking foot, try raising the height of your standard presser foot to reduce the pressure it applies to your fabric. The effect isn't quite the same, but it can be helpful in a pinch.

2. Stay stitch curves

Loosely woven, lightweight fabrics can easily stretch under their own weight, especially along the bias. Whenever your pattern calls for curves, such as along armscyes, collars, and hemlines, add a line of stay stitching inside the seam allowance. Straight seams cut along the bias can likewise benefit from stay stitching. The support of this simple line of stitches will help keep your pieces true to their shape and size, giving your finished project a professional-looking finish.

3. Interline garments

If your pattern requires a little extra stability, consider using an interlining. This is a light- to mid-weight fabric, often with a non-stretch, twill weave, that provides extra sturdiness for your fashion fabric without the stiffness of interfacing. The easiest way to interline a garment is to cut out your pattern pieces in your interlining fabric, lay your delicate fashion fabric on top, and stitch around the edges within the seam allowance. These interlined sections can now be treated as one piece when creating your finished garment. Keep in mind that interlining isn't always appropriate; draped garments, or anything else that needs to retain the delicate nature of lightweight fabrics should not be interlined.

4. Use the right needle

You should always start a new project with a new needle in your sewing machine, but it's especially important when you're sewing with delicate fabrics. Woven from very fine fibers, these fabrics are easily damaged by needles that have developed hooks at their points from overuse. For loosely woven fabrics and knits, a ballpoint needle is appropriate; these blunted needles push aside fibers rather than cutting them, thus avoiding any fraying or raveling.

5. Avoid backstitching

When starting or finishing a seam by machine, sewists typically reverse for a few stitches, known as backstitching, to lock the seam in place. With delicate fabrics, however, this can cause the fabric to bunch up and leave unsightly pulls, or even to get sucked down into your bobbin mechanism. Instead of backstitching, leave extra-long thread tails and knot them together by hand to anchor your seams without damaging your fabric. As always, test your thread, needle, and tension settings on a scrap piece of your fabric before starting in on your actual seams to avoid damaging your project.

6. Use a large table

Whether you're cutting out your pattern pieces or stitching together your projects, make sure your work surface is large enough to support your entire length of fabric. Delicate fabrics tend to stretch under their own weight, which can distort the grain line and the shape of your pattern pieces unless your material is well supported. Opt for the floor if your cutting table isn't big enough. Similarly, when sewing, keep your work well supported both in front of and behind your needle. A drop-in sewing table keeps your sewing machine's deck at the same height as the rest of your work surface, and can make this task a bit easier. Even support across your work surface will keep your seams from puckering and stretching out of shape as you sew.

7. Cut one layer at a time

Delicate fabrics can be tricky enough to cut under the best circumstances. They're easy to snag or stretch, and can be quite slippery. Instead of cutting multiple layers at once, lay out your pieces and cut from a single layer, flipping over pattern pieces that are meant to be cut on the fold. A sharp rotary cutter can make cutting delicate fabrics much easier. Use a new blade for the best results. Pins are likely to slip in delicate fabrics, so opt for pattern weights to keep your pieces in place. Avoid cutting notches to mark your pattern pieces; a tailor's tack, or a single stitch of colored thread in the seam allowance can serve the same purpose without damaging your fabric.

8. Consider stabilizer

There are many different options for stabilizing delicate fabrics while you're working with them. These range from tear-away and dissolvable options to simple layers of tissue paper sandwiched around your project while you work. Another option is spray starch, which works well for projects requiring just a touch of stiffening or a little help to prevent slipping, but not significant support. Stabilizers also provide extra help with pinning. Pins tend to slip out of delicate fabrics, and while basting and tailors' tacks are options, if your fabric could also use some support, stabilizer can serve that dual purpose.

9. Practice rolled hems

Tiny rolled hems are the perfect way to finish off a project made with delicate fabric. They don't weigh down the edges and allow your fabric to drape and float just the way you want it to. There are several ways to create rolled hems. One of the easiest is by using a rolled hem or narrow hem foot on your sewing machine. Available in several sizes, these accessories roll the edge of your fabric under while you stitch, creating an even, narrow hem without having to press the entire length. For an even finer finish, stitch your rolled hem by hand. Using this technique, you can create hems that are almost invisible from both the right and the wrong sides of your work.

10. Finish your seam allowances

Delicate fabrics are prone to fraying. You can reinforce your seams, prevent damage, and make wearable projects more comfortable by finishing off your seam allowances. There are many ways to do this. Self-finishing techniques, like French or flat-felled seams, work particularly well on straight seams, though they may work on gentle curves as well. Other options include serging or overlocking, which can be done on a dedicated machine, or with a mock-serge stitch on a conventional sewing machine. You can also bind seam allowances with bias tape, which provides a very nice look for unlined garments.

11. Don't over-embellish

When it comes to delicate fabrics, it's best to let their elegant textures stand for themselves. With a loose weave or fine fibers, these fabrics don't hold up well to added beading, set-in studs or eyelets, or weighty appliques. If a little extra decoration is called for, try contrasting stitching or a bit of embroidery. Easy hand embroidery stitches like "lazy daisies" are an adorable touch and quite simple to make even if you've never embroidered before.

12. Use the right thread

Choosing the right thread to match your project is just as important as choosing the right needle. In fact, the two go hand in hand. A needle that's too small for your thread will cause the thread to break or shred, making for uneven tension in your seams. A thick thread and heavy needle will make your seams stiff and bulky, and leave larger than necessary holes in your fabric. In general, you should try to match the thread type to the fiber in your fabric; this will help your thread and your fabric wear evenly over time.

13. Pick appropriate patterns

Soft, delicate fabrics don't lend themselves to highly structured garments. If your pattern calls for lots of darts and careful tailoring, stay away from sheer and delicate fabrics. Instead, choose patterns with gently flowing lines to show off the drape and movement of your fabric to its utmost. For patterns with a small amount of tailoring or shaping, the trick of interlining your delicate fabrics can provide the structure you need without the hassle of trying to match colors or patterns in another type of fabric.

If you've got sensitive skin, or conditions like eczema or psoriasis, you know what a nightmare it can be to find clothing that's comfortable enough to wear all day, but also still looks sharp! If you're not sure where to start, check out these easy tricks for getting that fashion-forward look without making skin conditions worse.

How to Choose the Right Fabric for Your Sewing Project


When you are planning out a new sewing project, one of the first steps is to decide what type of fabric you want to use on the project and where to add your logo label. However, how do you make that choice? It isn’t as simple as just choosing your favorite fabric after all!

In this article, we are going to take a look at what goes into choosing a fabric and the choices you will have to make to find the perfect fit. This way, you can rest easy knowing that you have the right raw materials to turn into the garment you have in mind.

  • Check Your Pattern

For many of us, especially if you are a beginner, creating a project doesn’t mean you are creating from an image in your head. Instead, we tend to lean on patterns that we find online or in craft stores.

If you are using one of these patterns, you should first consult it to see if it recommends a certain type of fabric. For the most part, these patterns will suggest a few different fabrics or even one specific fabric. In these cases, your job is made a little easier as you can simply follow instructions on what cloth to get and how much of it you need.

For the most part, it is best to follow the fabric guidelines on your pattern to get the end result that your pattern promises. However, if you do replace the fabric, try to stay similar to the recommended fabric so that you know it will still flow and fit the same way. If your pattern calls for linen, for example, you won’t want to replace it with velvet because the fabrics are different in their weight and structure.

  • Consider the Difficulty Level

If you are a beginner at sewing, you are going to want to ensure that you don’t get a fabric that you can’t work with. The truth is, there are some fabrics out there that even advanced sewers and professional seamstresses find difficult to work with. So, it’s important to know which fabrics you should probably avoid until you have a little more experience under your belt.

The first choice that you will want to avoid is any satin or silk fabric. These fabrics are tempting because they are absolutely gorgeous. However, because of their slick texture, these fabrics are surprisingly difficult to work with. It makes even basic sewing tasks such as sewing two pieces of fabric together difficult. As such, it’s probably a good idea to work up to silky fabrics, not start with them.

A more common fabric that you might be tempted to try right away is denim. However, the issues with denim come into play when you realize just how thick it is compared to other fabrics. Because of this, denim can be hard to cut and sew and working with denim is an easy way to jam your sewing machine or break your needles if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. In fact, denim needs specific needles and tools for working with denim, which can add extra expense to your project.

The final type of fabric that we will warn you against as a beginner is any type of knit fabric. These fabrics are made great and difficult by the same trait - they’re stretchy. Since they are so stretchy, it is extremely easy to make a wrong step and turn your project into a bunched or stretched out mess. Once again, these fabrics are fantastic to work with but you might want to wait until you have a handle on using easier to work with fabrics before you try any of these out.

If you are interested in an easy, beginner-level fabric, most people would recommend closely woven 100% cotton fabrics. These fabrics are great because it’s easy to cut, easy to sew, and generally easy to work with. It’s also versatile, so you are able to use it when you are making many different types of project from t-shirts to throw pillows.

It isn’t perfect, though. Cotton is prone to shrinking, for example, so you need to buy extra and pre-shrink it before you use it. However, this brings up another important note -  always check into the conditions the fabric you want to work with comes with so you know that your project will turn out correctly.

  • Consider the Strength of the Fabric

Another consideration that you will want to keep in mind is how strong a fabric is. This, of course, has varying weight depending on the project you are creating.

If you are making something that will see a lot of wear - like an everyday dress or t-shirt - you will want a fabric that you can wash often. It doesn’t do any good if you can’t wash them often enough to keep them clean. For these garments, a fabric like cotton or polyester is a good choice because they are durable fabrics that can hold up to a wash.

There are, though, fabrics that can’t hold up to regular washing or machine washing at all. If you are making an everyday garment, these won’t do because you would constantly be hand washing or dry cleaning these items, which is inconvenient to say the least. Fabrics like silk or taffeta can be harder to wash but they can be great additions to outfits that you won’t be wearing as often - such as an evening gown - and don’t need to be constantly washed, wearing the fabric down and taking up your time.

  • Consider What You Are Making the Garment For

Another consideration is what you are making your garment for. After all, just like frequency of use, the use of the garment you are making can affect the type of fabric you want to use.

The best example of this is to consider the weather you are making a garment for. For example, if you wanted to make a winter sweater, you might consider using fabrics like flannel or wool because they are thicker and will hold warmth in. Alternatively, though, that sundress you are making is meant to be cool and lightweight so a light cotton or linen fabric might be a better fit. After all, you don’t want a mismatched fabric and use - no one is going to wear a wool spring dress.

This tip goes beyond just garments, though. There are also different fabrics for projects you might be working on around your house as well. If you wanted to make a quilt, for example, you would want a special quilting fabric, not just any old fabric you think looks good.

An even better example, though, is being sure to use upholstery and interior fabrics when needed. If you are working on a lampshade, for example, you aren’t going to use the same fabrics that you would use to make clothes. So, when you are working on a project, consider the use of the fabric and if it matches up to your project.

  • Pattern Sizes

Another thing to consider is patterned fabrics. These can add an extra flair to your project that solid color fabrics don’t always offer. However, if you don’t match the patterns up correctly when you are sewing your project, it can end up looking mismatched and messy.

As such, it is best to start out with larger patterns on your fabrics. These are far easier to match up and give you a little more wiggle room because they aren’t as intricate. After you get used to working with larger patterns, then you can try out a fabric with a more intricate pattern.

If you aren’t quite comfortable with matching up patterns yet, that’s fine! There are plenty of solid color fabrics that you can use to make your project beautiful. Eventually, you can move onto patterned fabric as you are comfortable - there’s no rush to try patterned fabric right away.

  • In Store vs. Online

In the modern day and age, you don’t have to go to your local craft store to get fabric - you can simply order your fabrics online!

However, you should be aware of some of the drawbacks that come with this convenience. Of course, most online shops have information about the fabric available and multiple pictures, you do miss out on the chance to feel the fabric and take a close look at its drape. This differs a lot from being in a physical shop because you there you can feel the fabric and look at how it hangs.

This advantage makes shopping in a physical store a better option for beginners who aren’t familiar with many different types of fabrics and how they feel and behave. Even more advanced seamstresses might hurt for missing out on the chance to feel and see the fabric in-person before they buy. With this in mind, it might be best to only use online stores for replenishing supplies of fabrics that you have already worked with, especially if you are a beginner.

Best Clothing Materials for Sensitive Skin

Best Clothing Materials for Sensitive Skin

Natural Fibers

There are different types of fabric.
One of the most basic tips for sensitive-skin-friendly clothing is to avoid synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester. These don't "breathe" as well as natural fibers, and that can cause irritation and discomfort even for people without sensitive skin! Instead, opt for fabrics made from cotton or silk. These fibers have a smooth feel and a natural wicking action that keeps moisture away from the skin Cotton is commonly used for both woven and knitted fabrics, so you'll have plenty of options whether you're buying fabrics to sew at home, or looking for ready-to-wear items at your favorite department store.

Keep in mind that just because a fiber is natural doesn't mean it will automatically be a good fit for sensitive skin. Wool may be too coarse and irritating depending on the type and how it has been processed. Fine, lightweight wool like cashmere is often a good choice, while wool felt, a common choice for hats, may not be as comfortable. Similar issues exist for linen, which can be found in both fine and coarse grades. It's also possible to be allergic to certain natural fabrics, so if you suspect that may be the source of your discomfort, it's best to talk to a doctor to determine exactly what fibers you need to avoid.

Tips and Techniques

If you're designing and sewing garments for people with sensitive skin, there are a few tricks to making sure comfort is built in from the start. Make sure to use natural-fiber thread, especially for any decorative stitching, and use techniques like a French seam to finish the raw edges of seams on the inside of garments so they don't rub and cause irritation.

Sewing for people with sensitive skin is also a great opportunity to practice your tailoring skills. You want to avoid clothing that pinches and binds, or that chafes and causes discomfort. Most of these issues aren't inherent in good clothing—they're a product of a ready-to-wear culture that limits the number of body shapes to "Small," "Medium," and "Large." By taking the time to get a great fit, you can create clothing that doesn't rely on being loose and shapeless to be comfortable!

Dyes, Detergents, and Sizing

While these factors tend to be less of an issue for handmade garments, they're still something to keep in mind. For example, if a new cotton or silk blouse is causing discomfort even though other cotton and silk garments are fine to wear, chances are it's not the fiber that's the problem. Typically, dyes and sizing are only an issue until the garment has been washed several times. If a new clothing item is causing problems, first try washing it. Make sure to follow the care instructions and avoid using any detergents with dyes or scents, since these can be triggers for sensitivity as well. Add an extra rinse cycle to make sure you've removed any lingering detergent residue, and dry according to the care instructions. Again, avoid using any fabric softeners or anti-static sheets in the dryer. Instead, try balls of wool felt, which can help reduce static without leaving a residue on your clothing. Starching clothing might give it extra crispness, but it can also be a problem for sensitive skin. Instead, iron according to care instructions shortly before wearing for a just-pressed look.

For items like overcoats, suits, and dresses that can't be tossed in the washer, dry-cleaning might pose a problem. Some of the chemicals and processes used in dry-cleaning can be irritating to those with allergies or skin conditions. Look for a dry-cleaner that uses liquid carbon dioxide to clean clothes instead of other solvents. This leaves behind no troublesome residue, and is better for the environment as well!

Tags and Embellishments

As much as you want your clothing to be comfortable, a big part of fashion is, well, looking fashionable! And that means you'll probably want at least a few pieces with a bit of embellishment. For people with sensitive skin, however, these additions can cause discomfort even if they're on the outside of the clothing and not directly in contact with the skin. For embellishments like embroidery, sequins, rhinestones, or studs, this is because of the threads or metal prongs that do appear on the inside of the garment. This is especially true of any metallic decorations that contain nickel, which is a common allergen for many people. For ready-to-wear clothes, avoid this problem by reserving these kinds of embellishments for outerwear. When making items for yourself, use appliques stitched to your finished garment with cotton thread to add style without discomfort.

Many ready-to-wear clothing lines are opting for screen-printed labels, which is great for those with sensitive skin, but impractical for labeling garments you make yourself. Since it's important to keep track of the care instructions for the fabrics and embellishments you used, simply bypassing a tag isn't a great option. Instead, think about where you place your tags. A small label at the hem of a shirt, rather than the back of the collar, is much less likely to cause irritation, and you'll still be able to keep track of important care information. This is also a must for branding if you make your sensitive-skin-friendly garments to sell!

Having sensitive skin can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing, especially if you're self-conscious about your appearance. Worrying about whether a new item will cause you discomfort really takes all the fun and enjoyment out of a shopping trip with friends! With these simple tips in mind, however, you can find, and create, fashionable clothing that makes you look and feel great.

10 Tips for Sewing with Satin Fabric

10 Tips for Sewing with Satin Fabric

There are different types of fabrics. But what could be more luxurious than a length of beautiful, lustrous satin? Whatever you're planning to make that gorgeous fabric into, of course! But before you get down to business, there are a few things you should know about working with satin.

What is satin?

There are a surprising number of misconceptions about what exactly 'satin' is. It's often lumped in with silk, as in 'they were all at the ball in their silks and satins,' but those two aren't necessarily related. Satin refers to how a fabric is woven. The thread patterns of a satin weave make one side of the material smooth and lustrous. Satin can be made from many different fibers, including silk, cotton, polyester, and even wool. Each of those different types of fiber creates a different fabric, ranging from Duchess satin—a stiff satin material made from silk and often used in bridalwear—to the fairly common crepe-backed satin used for everything from blouses to dresses.

Now that you know your satins from your silks, it's time to get started. Check out these tips for stitching up the perfect project in satin and choose a fitting logo label for it

1. Cut one layer at a time

No matter what kind of fiber was used to create them, satins tend to have one thing in common—they are slippery! Never try to cut multiple layers at once. Instead, use a non-slip cutting mat on your cutting table and lay out your material in a single layer. With pattern weights holding down your pattern pieces and a fresh blade in your rotary cutter, you'll be able to make quick work of your cutting without the hassle of fabric sliding all over. Working on a small space? Be sure to fold up or roll your extra fabric so that it's all supported by your cutting table. Draping the excess over the sides of the table could cause it to slide and pull your work onto the floor.

2. Use the right size needle and thread

Satin is not at all forgiving when it comes to needle marks. Though you should always change your sewing machine needle when starting a new project, this is a step you absolutely can't skip when working with satin. You may even want to change your needle in the middle of the project, especially if you notice it starting to snag. The fine fibers in satin are particularly prone to this, and there's no way to disguise those pull marks, so spare yourself the hassle and switch out your needle.

When you do, be sure you're using the right type and size. A standard needle should be fine, though a slightly smaller one might be even better. Avoid large, heavy-duty needles, which pierce large holes in your material, or very fine pointed needles, as these are more likely to develop barbs. A lightweight thread is similarly important; too heavy and you'll end up with puckered, bulky seams and broken threads.

3. Ease up on your tension

Satin doesn't handle tension very well. It's not a good fabric for skin-tight garments—seams under tension quickly become visible as the threads pull larger and larger holes. Similarly, too much tension in your threads can cause your seams to pucker and pull. Dial back your tension and test on scrap fabric until you're happy with the result.

4. Beware the water spot

Satin is notorious for water spots. Avoid spraying the surface with water when ironing or steaming, and be sure to check the care instructions when preparing your fabric before beginning your project.

5. Smooth rough surfaces

Just as satin can easily snag on a barbed needle, any other rough spots will also snag and damage your fabric. Be sure to check your sewing and cutting tables for rough edges or damage that could pose a hazard. You may also want to check your own hands! Rough nails or calluses can also snag the fabric, but avoid using lotion or hand cream just before you handle your fabric—satin shows oil stains as badly as it shows water stains!

6. Don't press with steam

Remember that problem with water spotting? If you press your seams with lots of steam, you're risking adding water spots to your material. Plus, steam while pressing heats your fabric to greater temperatures than a dry iron, and this, combined with pressure, can change the lustre of your satin in the areas you've pressed. Not a good look!

7. Use a wide seam allowance

Satin tends to fray easily, so be sure your seams are secure by using a slightly wider seam allowance. Some sewists prefer to use a serger or overlock machine to finish their edges, but depending on the type of satin you're using, these finished edges could show through as bulky. Stitch some test seams with your fabric to see what finishing techniques work best for you.

8. Store your fabric rolled

Of course, the fabric you shouldn't press is one that holds creases like crazy. Avoid this issue by rolling your fabric on a cardboard tube or bolt until you're ready to use it. Folding leaves creases that are tough to get rid of.

9. Use a "with nap" cutting layout

While "with nap" layouts are typically meant for fabrics with pile, like velvet or minky, if you hold your satin up to the light, you'll notice that the sheen changes slightly from one angle to the next. That holds true once it's been cut and sewn, so you should make sure all your pattern pieces are running in the same direction if you don't want your finished project to appear multicolored.

10. Invest in good pins

Pinning satin is tricky. It's slippery, so your first instinct may be to pin heavily, but it also shows every single pin mark, so you're limited to only pinning in the seam allowance. Trying to use your everyday pins brings the added peril of snagging your fabric with blunted tips. Instead, opt for extra fine dressmaking pins. These are a bit longer than your standard pins, slightly thinner, and much sharper. You won't believe what a difference it makes until you try it!

12 Tips for Working with Sequin Fabric

12 Tips for Working with Sequin Fabric

Sequined fabric can add a bit of glitz and glamor to your sewing projects. Wether it's an applique on a skirt, a fun throw pillow, or a fully sequined dress the addition of your custom printed label can glam it up even more. But the fabric does have some quirks that can make it a little tricky to work with if you're not used to it. From choosing the right fabric and the right pattern to cutting out and stitching up your project, check out these pro tips for sewing with sequins!

1. What type of fabric are you using?

There are many different types of sequin fabric. Some materials have sequins stitched on in specific patterns, which can sometimes include lace or embroidery, beading, and other embellishments. Some types of fabric are stitched all over with sequins in more random patterns, while still others use glue to hold the sequins to the fabric. Each of these materials behaves slightly differently, though all of them should be handled with care to keep from damaging the sequins or the underlying fabric. When purchasing your fabric, pay attention to how the sequins are attached, as this will affect your work later.

2. Does your fabric have a nap?

"Nap" in fabric means whether is has a distinct directional pattern to the fibers, or, in this case, the embellishment. This is easiest to see on "mermaid" fabric. This material has rows of sequins loosely stitched on by one edge in a layered pattern, which resembles fish scales. These sequins are sometimes different colors on each side, so you can brush your hand across the fabric and change the color by changing the way the sequins are facing. If you don't want adjoining panels to be different colors, or have their sequins running in opposite directions, you'll want to be sure to consider this nap in laying out your pattern pieces.

3. Choose the right pattern

When you're creating clothes from sequin fabrics, you'll want to make sure that you're choosing patterns well suited to it. Lots of darts, pleats, or complex seam lines will be particularly tricky to work in sequins, and you may find that they make the finished garment look overly busy. Stick to clean, straight lines that will be easy to execute flawlessly and show off the sequins to their best. If you're not sure you want your garment to be made entirely of sequin material, consider using it as an accent, trim, or applique for a bold fashion statement without all the flash.

4. Mark your seam line

Sometimes in sewing, it's enough to know how wide your seam allowance should be and extrapolate your seam line from there. Basically, all you have to do is line up the edge of your fabric on the appropriate marker on your sewing machine and keep it there. With sequin fabric, though, you'll need to mark your stitch line as well. Working from the back of your fabric, trace the edge of your pattern and any other construction marks with tailor's chalk or disappearing ink. If your pattern already includes the seam allowance, you'll need to remove your pattern and mark your stitch line inside the line you've already traced. If you need to add your seam allowance, you'll need to measure out from the edge of the pattern and mark the edge of your seam allowance. Alternatively, you can mark both at once using a double tracing wheel, a handy little gadget used with tracing paper to mark out both your cutting and stitch lines at the same time.

5. Remove sequins when possible

The reason you want to mark the stitch line of your project is so that you can clear a path for your stitches. With the stitch line marked on the wrong side of your fabric, use a needle and contrasting thread to baste along the line. This will make it visible on the right side of your fabric in a way that's easy to remove before you actually start sewing.

With your stitch line marked, it's time to remove sequins. If they're sewn on, be sure to cut the sequins themselves and not the threads holding them in place unless you plan to remove an entire line of sequins. A fine, pointed pair of scissors and maybe even a pair of tweezers will come in handy for this kind of work. If your sequins are glued in place, do not try to remove them. Many are heat fused to the fibers beneath them, and trying to remove them will likely damage your material.

Clear a path along your stitch line, following your basting stitches. Once that's clear, move on to your seam allowances. Removing the sequins here will reduce bulk, make it easier to finish your edges if you so choose, and keep the insides of unlined garments from being scratchy.

6. Dealing with beads

Does your sequined embellishment include beads that might interfere with your stitching as well? Just like sequins, you'll need to remove them before you start sewing, and, also like sequins, you'll want to avoid cutting the threads holding them in place unless you intend to sew the rest of the beads back down by hand. Instead, lay your fabric on a hard surface, like a cutting board (put down a drop cloth if you're concerned about stains), and apply clear tape lightly to the beaded areas that need to be cleared. Use a small hammer to smash the beads, then gently remove the tape. The threads should remain intact, and the broken beads should come away attached to the tape.

7. Use dedicated scissors

An amazing pair of fabric scissors are one of a sewist's most precious possessions. Don't risk them on sequin material! Keep a pair of less stellar (and less expensive) scissors to use for cutting material with plastic embellishments, or other, non-fabric items you may need cut or trimmed. Replace or sharpen these scissors as they grow dull—while you don't want to use your finest scissors on plastic, dull scissors can cause damage to your material.

8. Cut one layer at a time

Sequins are slippery! When you're cutting out your pattern pieces, cut only one layer at a time. If your layout suggests cutting multiple pieces at once, remember to flip over those pattern pieces when cutting your second layer to account for the change. For best results, use pattern weights rather than pins, which can be tricky to negotiate in sequin material. Take care while cutting. Wayward sequins tend to fly up when cut.

9. Have extra needles handy

When you're sewing sequins, you're probably going to break needles. It's just a fact of the work. You can limit this, of course, by carefully removing sequins from your stitch line, but this isn't always possible. With glued-on sequins, you can't avoid stitching through them. For this kind of material, up your needle strength to a heavy duty or denim type needle, which is designed to punch through tough material. Even these needles can break, however, so be sure to keep a few extras on hand as you work. Stitch slowly, and keep an eye out for any bending or other malformation of your needle. Change it out promptly if you notice any damage.

10. Use caution when pressing!

Sequin fabrics are tough to press. Not only are they lumpy due to all the embellishment, but all that embellishment is easily meltable. Whenever possible, avoid pressing over your sequins, opting instead to finger press your seams. If you must press, use a low heat setting, a press cloth, and press from the wrong side of the fabric.

11. Handle touch-ups by hand

With all that removing of sequins, you may find your project has a few bald spots once you've finished assembly. Snip the threads securing sequins to a scrap of fabric and set aside the extra sequins. Once your project is finished, use these extras and hand-stitch them to your project to fill in any gaps. You can do the same with beading that might be stitched alongside your sequins. If your sequins are stitched to appliques, as is the case with some sheer special occasion fabrics (like tulle or chiffon), you'll want to remove any appliques that might overlap your stitch line. Set them aside and stitch them back down by hand once your seams are in place, overlapping your seam to match the layout of the appliques.

12. Care for your projects properly

Sequined materials are delicate. Whether the sequins are stitched on, glued on, or attached to appliques, they're not well suited to being tossed in the washer or dryer. Take careful note of the care instructions on the bolt of fabric when you purchase it. Some sequined fabrics can be hand washed—actually by hand, not on a "hand wash" setting in a machine—and drip-dried, but the majority will need to be dry cleaned. Don't try to avoid this, or you may find your washing machine filled with sequins and your carefully stitched project looking bald!

Sewing with Felt: The Pros and Cons

Sewing with Felt: The Pros and Cons

Even if you’re an experienced sewist, working with felt can be a whole new world. It behaves very differently from other fabrics, which can be great...or problematic, depending on what you’re planning to do with it. Like any fabric, working with felt has its pros and cons—and sometimes the very trait that makes it great for one project makes it a disaster for another. Thankfully, we've got you covered. We've assembled a bit of background information to help your felt projects turn out stunning the first time. Check out the tips and tricks below!

What is Felt?

Felt is a non-woven fabric made of fibers that are “felted” or meshed together. It’s one of the oldest types of fabrics, since making it doesn’t require a loom or even spinning the fibers into thread first. In ancient times, felt was used to make rugs, shoes, clothing, and even tents! Today, felt still has a wide variety of uses, ranging from decorations and crafts to clothing. It's even used in some industrial applications, such as soundproofing and padding for machinery.

There are many different kinds of felt available, from brightly colored craft felt made of synthetic materials to undyed felt made from sheep’s wool. In addition to different colors and fibers, felt also comes in different weights or thicknesses. Thick felt is often used as padding or insulation, while thinner felt is used in everything from kids’ craft projects to millinery (hat-making).

The Pros of Working with Felt

In many ways, felt has some distinct advantages over other fabric types. For example:

No fraying

Because felt isn’t woven, cut edges won’t fray. This makes it a great material for no-sew craft projects, as well as an excellent practice material for kids first learning how to sew. It’s also an ideal material to use when creating appliques or decorations to add to other projects since no hemming is required for individual pieces.


Though there are high-end felts available that can be a little pricier, felt for the most part is a very inexpensive material to work with, which again makes it a great practice material for beginning sewists. Keep in mind, though, that felt does behave very differently from woven materials, so don’t try to mock-up projects you plan to make from woven fabrics by using felt.

Easily accessible

Every fabric store will have a variety of felts available, but if you’re looking for craft-project felt, you won’t even need to hit your local craft shop. Supermarkets that carry basic craft supplies will typically have sheets of felt on offer, as will dollar stores and hobby shops. For larger projects, or finer grades of felt, you can buy it by the yard at your local fabric store. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can even make your own felt at home from unspun wool.


When it comes to ways felt can be used, the possibilities are virtually endless. It’s perfect for winter accessories like hats, mittens, and scarves. Use it to decorate the house by stringing together festive shapes into personalized garlands, or add texture to throw pillows with felt shapes. Protect your floors by padding the legs of furniture with felt, and add decorative storage with easy felt boxes. You can accessorize with felt bags and purses, and thicker types of felt are even water-resistant, making them a great choice for slippers and house shoes. With felt projects, you’re only limited by your imagination! Check out this article for even more ideas on using felt.

The Cons of Working with Felt

Though there are some great advantages to choosing felt for your next project, there are some drawbacks as well. For instance:

Minimal elasticity

If you pick up a piece of felt and tug on opposite edges, you’ll find that it doesn’t have a lot of give. Lightweight felt will have more stretch to it than its heavier counterparts, but compared to woven fabrics, felt tends to be quite stiff and resistant. It doesn’t drape or flow, or even breathe particularly well, which makes it a poor choice for most garments. And if you do happen to stretch it’re out of luck. Unlike knits or other stretchy fabrics, once felt is stretched out of shape, there’s no good way to return it to its original shape and size.

Coarse texture

In addition to being a somewhat stiff fabric, many felts are also coarse in texture. It doesn’t have a sheen the way silks or satins do, and doesn’t have a buttery soft texture like fleece or minky. This is due to the type of fiber that is necessary to make felt; rough fibers are much easier to mat together into a solid fabric than smooth ones. Of course, not all projects call for a soft, flowing fabric. The texture of felt makes it an excellent contrast when used as a decoration or trim.

Potential for shrinking

Another potential con of working with felt is that some types, particularly those made of natural wool, are likely to shrink if washed incorrectly. This can typically be avoided by handwashing, or using a cool, delicate cycle in the washing machine. Make sure to avoid using a dryer, however. Reshape items made of felt and dry them flat, just as you would a woolen sweater.

Felt may be in a league of its own compared to other fabrics, but obviously it’s not always the all-star player. Now that you know some of the drawbacks to working with felt, as well as some of the traits that make it uniquely useful, you can plan your next felt project with confidence.

Are you already a felt craft pro? Got a favorite project you’d like to share? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Personalize some labels to go with all your felt projects.

How to Choose the Best Fabric for Quilts

How to Choose the Best Fabric for Quilts

Choosing fabric for quilting can make you feel a bit like Goldilocks in the three bears' house. You want something that's not too heavy and not too light, not too stretchy or too stiff. But while it's important to keep these things in mind, there are lots of ways to incorporate unexpected fabrics into your quilts as well. Check out these tips and tricks for choosing and using quilting fabrics!

Know Your Terminology

Beginning quilters (and sewists unfamiliar with quilting) often confusing "quilting" and "piecing." Piecing is the process of creating those beautiful, colorful patterns by stitching together different pieces of material. There are lots of techniques, from complex shapes created with paper piecing to string quilts to simple patchwork squares. For piecing, you want fabrics that hold their shape well, which typically means a woven rather than knit fabric, and that are lightweight enough that you can sew over the points where many shapes join together and seam allowances start getting bulky. You also need types of fabric that can hold up to high heat, as pressing is a regular part of creating the shapes in a pieced quilt and managing the bulk of seam allowances.

Quilting, on the other hand, is the process of sewing together a "sandwich" of backing, batting, and quilt top. The top, backing, or both, may be pieced, though it's commonly only the top. Quilting can be done either by machine, or by hand. Again, your choice of quilting method will affect your choice of fabric. Heavier fabrics are tough to quilt by hand, so even if your piecing design calls for simple shapes that allow you to easily sew a heavy material together, you may run into problems if you're planning to hand quilt. On the other hand, lightweight, loosely woven materials could pose a problem for machine quilting because they tend to pucker and lose their shape, even when thoroughly pinned or basted into place.

The Basics: Quilting Cottons

Many chain fabric stores are really geared toward quilters. Sure, they've got a few racks of fashion fabrics, and maybe even some upholstery material, but the bulk of what they carry is quilting cotton. This is a woven fabric that's lightweight enough to sew multiple layers without needing to switch to a heavy-duty needle, but sturdy enough to put up with years of wear. Quilting cotton is, as the name suggests, the staple fabric of quilting. It comes in thousands of colors and patterns, including holiday themed options, and is the perfect fabric for basic quilting projects, from placemats and table runners to bedspreads and wall hangings.

Quilting Kits

If you're just getting into quilting, a kit can be a great way to take some of the guesswork out of your early projects. These contain all the fabrics you need to create the piecework top of your quilt (typically, you'll need to add batting and backing yourself). Most come with all the pieces already cut out, and a guide for assembling them. This can be especially great if you want to try out piecing and quilting without investing in the equipment you'd need to cut out complex shapes: rotary cutters, cutting mats, clear rulers and cutting guides, etc.

Fat Quarters and Fabric Packs

Quilting cottons are like a jewel box of colors, and you're going to want to play with them all. Thankfully, there ways to do this without breaking the bank. Fabric shops that cater to quilters will sell fat quarters. These are quarter yards of fabric cut differently from the traditional cutting-counter method so that they're squarish in shape instead of a long narrow strip. This makes them ideal for cutting into pieces to be used in quilting, and they're reasonably priced. A regular quarter yard cut off the bolt may be even less expensive, though, so if your design doesn't call for large areas of a fabric, look into buying it off the bolt instead.

Another option for quilting fabric is fabric packs. These fall somewhere between quilting kits and fat quarters, as they include lots of different colors, and some are cut into strips or squares that are ready to be sewn, but often they don't include a map for how to lay out the pieces. These can be a great choice for sewists who want to focus on sewing rather than trying to design a color scheme.

Extra Wide Fabric

For quilt backing, extra wide quilting cotton is an excellent choice. It minimizes the number of seams, and allows you to quickly create a backing large enough for even the biggest quilting projects. It isn't available in as many colors as regular quilting cotton, and is typically only available in solid colors rather than prints. You can also use this extra wide fabric for the top of your quilt, if you want to showcase your stitchwork against a solid colored background.

Quilting with Knits

Typically, knits are too stretchy for quilting easily, as they tend to warp out of shape, but there are ways around that issue. This comes in especially handy for projects like t-shirt quilts, which are very popular graduation gifts. The easiest way to handle quilting with knits is to use a stabilizer. This can be a fusible product that you iron onto the back of your t-shirt material before you cut out your shapes, or a liquid starch that dries leaving your fabric temporarily stiffened. Each has benefits and drawbacks. Fusible interfacing leaves your quilt slightly stiffer than a regular t-shirt, but it does ensure a perfectly flat, non-stretch surface that's easy to measure, cut and sew. Temporary stabilizers don't have quite as much staying power, but, once your quilt is complete, they wash away and leave a soft, t-shirt-like texture that's very appealing. If you've never quilted with knits before, start with a fusible stabilizer to get the hang of things, then start experimenting to see what you like best!

Working with Found Fabrics

One of the joys of quilting is being able to include fabrics that have special meaning, like a snippet of a wedding or christening gown, a bit of an old uniform, or a favorite baby blanket. This is also one of the challenges of quilting, since it can be quite difficult to join a delicate bit of wedding gown material with a bit of tough denim coverall. So how do you create a quilt that includes all these memories without needing regular repairs? There are several techniques you can try.

Use supporting fabrics

When you're working with delicate materials, like lace, chiffon, or other lightweight fabrics, always use a layer of sturdier fabric beneath them. Not only does this help provide support to the fabric throughout the life of the quilt, but it also makes it considerably easier to piece and quilt the project. The method you use will depend on your design choices. You can simply use a fusible product to bind the fabric to a cotton layer, if it can handle the heat of an iron. If it's more delicate, layer your fabric over a layer of cotton and stitch around the edges in the seam allowance. This allows you to treat the fabric as one layer, with the look of the delicate top fabric, and the strength of the cotton underneath.

Experiment with sashing

Sashing is a narrow band of material in between other, larger blocks. Think of it as a border. If you're using different weights of fabric, sashing can help bridge the gap between soft and flexible and stiff and unyielding. Sewing a delicate fabric to a tough one is a recipe for damage along that seam. Cotton sashing can provide extra support that's not too rough, and makes it easier to join disparate materials.

Try appliques

If you've only got a few pieces of fabric that don't match the weight of the rest of your project, consider creating appliques with them instead of trying to use them for piecing. This can work especially well with very lightweight or very heavy material, since this method limits both bulky seam allowances and the wear and tear of being placed on a structural seam. For delicate fabrics, you'll again want to use some kind of supporting material underneath it to make your applique easier to attach. With bulky materials, especially those cut from clothing or other existing projects, try to avoid including seams, as the extra layers can pose a challenge in creating and attaching your appliques. For a basic tutorial on making and attaching fabric appliques, check out this great resource!

With patience and the right techniques, you can quilt with all kinds of different materials. Keep in mind, though, that practice makes perfect, and if you're just starting out, it's best to work with basic quilting cottons to hone your skills before trying something more advanced. When you're ready to move on to more complex materials, keep these basics in mind:

  • Woven fabrics are easiest
  • Make sure it won't melt when pressed!
  • If it stretches, stabilize it
  • If it's too delicate, add support
  • If two fabrics are too different, try applique instead of piecing

With these tips and tricks in your back pocket, your next quilting project is sure to be a success! If you want to make your quilts even more special incorporate your custom designed printed label.

13 Tips for Sewing with Corduroy

Tips for Sewing with Corduroy

Corduroy, that staple of 70s fashion, is making a serious comeback! And why not? The signature velvety texture and vertical ridges (called "wales") have always been eye-catching, but now, with textures ranging from subtle to bold, and beautiful new designs including patterns and prints, corduroy is more versatile than ever. The luxurious feel disguises just how sturdy this fabric is. With the durability of denim, it's ideal for garments, but can also be used for a wide range of projects, from bags and backpacks to stuffed toys. Like any fabric, however, corduroy has some quirks that can make it a challenge for those just discovering it. Check out these tips and tricks for working with corduroy and get your matching personalized labels!

1. Choose Quality Fabric

Whenever possible, opt for an all-cotton corduroy rather than a polyester blend. The blended fibers don't tend to hold up well in repeated washings, and the pile (that's the fuzzy bits) is more easily crushed and misshapen. Cotton also steams evenly and takes well to finger-pressing, which is an important feature since typical pressing methods would damage corduroy. If you're not sure whether the fabric you're looking at is high quality, try scratching at its surface with a fingernail. If this causes discoloration or raises a powdery substance to the fabric's surface, you're likely looking at an inferior product that's been filled with sizing to try to disguise the fact.

2. Use the Right Layout

Corduroy has what's known as nap, meaning the fabric looks different from different directions. This is easy to see with piece of fabric with a deep pile, like velvet or corduroy, but you can even see it on fabrics like terry cloth or even a carpet. The fibers of the pile aren't standing straight up, but have a sort of direction to them. If you brush the fibers backwards, you can see the change in color and texture immediately. The goal is to avoid accidentally assembling your project with the nap running all different directions. Thankfully, most patterns have a "with nap" layout, which ensures that all your pieces will be correctly oriented. Double check the fabric requirements before making your purchase; "with nap" layouts typically require a little extra. Remember, you're using a fabric that's either mostly or entirely cotton, so you'll also want to take into account any possible shrinkage in your fabric.

3. Opt for Simple Shapes

Corduroy's most prominent feature is its raised lines of pile, known as wales. These can be tiny ridges, often known as pin wales, to quite wide. There are even some types of corduroy that have alternating thick and thin wales. With all that texture going on, it's best to opt for garments with simple shapes rather than complex, highly tailored lines, like this jacket sewalong project. Not only does this make it easier to match the wales in each pattern piece, it also keeps the finished project from looking overly busy.

4. Think Vertical

Like working with any striped fabric, the direction of your stripes matters. Traditionally, the wales in corduroy projects run vertically. Not only is this slimming, but it's easier to lay out larger pattern pieces with this orientation. However, this doesn't mean there's never any call for wales to run diagonally or even horizontally. Play with textures and layouts to see what works best for your project. Remember, like any woven fabric, corduroy does have slightly different properties when cut on the bias, so expect it to have a bit more stretch and give.

5. Match Wales

Again, like any other striped fabric, projects made of corduroy tend to look best when the wales are matched at the seams. However, there is a bit of leeway, especially with narrow wale corduroy. Getting all those teeny wales to line up would be tricky, and it's not worth the effort. For wider wales, however, misalignments will be very noticeable. Take care in laying out your pattern to avoid this mishap, and be sure to have enough extra fabric to adjust your layout as necessary.

6. Don't Press

If you've ever accidentally ironed velvet, you know exactly why you shouldn't press corduroy. Pressing crushes the wales and leaves a shiny, flattened texture that's unfortunately permanent. Instead of pressing your seams open as usual, finger-press the seams first, and then, using just the very tip of your iron, gently set the stitches by passing the iron down the seam. If your fabric, or your finished garment, is looking a bit rumpled, check out this tutorial for getting those wrinkles out without crushing that gorgeous texture.

7. Avoid Fusible Interfacing

Another technique to avoid with corduroy is using fusible interfacing. This may seem a bit obvious—if you shouldn't press it, ironing on fusible interfacing is probably not the best idea—but for many of us sewists, fusible is an automatic choice, so it bears repeating. Adding a bit of stability to your corduroy with interfacing, especially in elements like collars and cuffs, is actually a great idea. It gives a nice crisp finish and a touch of structure, but always opt for the stitch-in variety.

8. Reduce Bulk

Fabrics with pile are notoriously problematic when it comes to bulky seam allowances. With such thick fabrics, it doesn't take many layers before the seams become stiff and and inflexible, which is especially problematic in garments, where seams are exactly where you want the most flexibility. There are quite a few tricks to limiting this bulk. Some of the simplest include clipping curves and corners. Where several layers come together, such as at collars, grade your seam allowances by trimming inner layers shorter than outer layers. When possible, opt for lightweight facings or linings instead of self-facings, and avoid finishes like French seams, which add more layers than are strictly necessary.

9. Shave Seam Allowances

Usually when we talk about shaving down bulk from seams, we're speaking metaphorically, but when it comes to corduroy (and other fabrics with pile), it's literal! Electric hair clippers work well to buzz down the pile from seam allowances, giving you a little extra flexibility and space to work with. Practice your technique on some scrap corduroy before attempting it on your project. Always shave seam allowances on the wrong side after you've stitched the seam; this will help you avoid accidental bald spots on the finished side of your garment.

10. Finish Raw Edges

Corduroy has a tendency to ravel at the edges if they're left unfinished. Since seam allowances often need to be clipped fairly close, it's important to provide them with a bit of extra protection to keep them from becoming unsightly or worn. There are lots of effective ways to solve this issue. Depending on the project, you may even want to employ several. Serging your edges is a simple option, but if you don't have a serger, you can also use binding techniques like a Hong Kong finish. Check out this tutorial on how to create this easy and polished finish.

11. Consider a Full Lining

One easy way to protect all your seam allowances at once, and add a little flair to your garment, is by using a full lining rather than just facings. For a full lining, choose a soft, lightweight fabric like cotton or even silk to avoid adding further bulk to your project. If your lining will be visible, think about whether you want a coordinating lining that will fade into the background, or something surprising for a little pop of color or pattern.

12. Use a Walking Foot

Because the texture of corduroy is very different from one side to the other, it's quite easy for the fabric to "creep" as it's being sewn. This means that the bottom layer is pulled along by the feed dogs, while the top has a tendency to lag behind, making your seams out of place and uneven. One way to help with this issue is to raise your presser foot slightly, provided your sewing machine allows for this kind of adjustment. An even better solution, however, is to use a walking foot, which provides the same kind of feeding motion to the top layer of fabric as the bottom and creating an even feed. In fact, walking foot attachments are also sometimes called "even feed" feet!

13. Choose Subtle Embellishments

Be careful not to go over-the-top with corduroy embellishment. Unlike denim, which easily stands up to studs, rhinestones, lacy overlays, embroidery, and more, corduroy already has a lot of eye-catching style built in thanks to its texture. Embellishments on corduroy can very quickly look excessive, so instead opt for something understated, like contrasting topstitching, unique buttons, or exposed zippers. Even the placement of darts, since they'll interrupt the regular wales, can become a design feature. Feel free to get creative!

Tips for Sewing Vinyl Fabric

Tips for Sewing Vinyl Fabric

Vinyl is a versatile material with all kinds of applications, from water resistant outdoor projects to easy-to-clean home decor. Like any specialty fabric, though, it has some quirks and takes a bit of getting used to, especially for sewists who are unfamiliar with this material. Here's what you need to know to get started.

Discover types of fabrics at Wunderlabel!

What is vinyl?

"Vinyl" has become a catch-all term for any material that's made of or has a plastic layer adhered to it. This includes everything from the clear plastic sheeting used to make see-through bags to the oilcloth used in rain gear to the faux leather that many prefer for garment making. Though each of these has its own unique properties, they also share many similarities, and understanding how to treat one type of "vinyl" can help you decide how to work with others. Here are some of the materials you may encounter:

  • PVC- Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is your true vinyl fabric. It's tough, resistant to water and UV damage, and great for outdoor use. Typically, you'll find heavier materials with a mesh or fabric backing for extra stability, though you can find some, like transparent vinyl, that are purely plastic.
  • Oilcloth- Traditional oilcloth was made of lightweight canvas treated with linseed oil and wax to make it water-resistant. Today's version is a thin fabric treated with a layer of PVC to provide even better waterproofing.
  • Laminated Fabric- Like oilcloth, laminated fabrics are made with an underlying fabric material, often cotton, that's been treated with polyurethane to make it water-resistant. Of common vinyl materials, laminated fabrics are the ones that behave most like a traditional fabric, soft and flexible without the stiffness of other options.
  • Pleather- This synthetic alternative to leather offers a whole range of textures, colors, and weights to mimic the look and feel of authentic hide, but without the expense or ethical concerns.

Don't confuse vinyl fabrics with craft vinyl, which is an adhesive material that can be cut into all kinds of fantastic shapes and attached to your projects using either pressure (if you're using sticker vinyl) or more permanently using heat and iron-on vinyl. While iron-on vinyl can certainly be used to embellish sewing projects, it's not appropriate for sewing itself.

What can I use it for?

With so many different types of vinyl to choose from, there are countless ways to use it. Add waterproof liners to beach bags, or create tablecloths or placemats that wipe clean with just a damp cloth. The UV-resistance makes vinyl an excellent choice for outdoor upholstery, awnings, and indoor/outdoor curtains. Faux leather is used in everything from accessories like handbags to garment design and upholstery, depending on the weight. When it comes to vinyl, the sky's the limit, especially with these tips and tricks under your belt.

Tips and Tricks

A Standard Presser Foot Won't Do

Vinyl has a tendency to be sticky, which means it gets caught under a standard presser foot, causing tangled stitches and mangled seams. Instead, opt for a walking foot, which has feed dogs to help push both layers of material under the needle at the same time, a roller foot, which has the added advantage of helping to press your seam as you sew, or a Teflon or non-stick foot, which has a coating on the bottom to help it slide easily over even the stickiest of fabrics.

Don't Forget to Prepare Your Fabric!

Most vinyl shouldn't be thrown in the wash like standard fiber materials, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be prepped before you start cutting and sewing. Some materials can (and should) be washed to prevent sizing issues. Be sure to check the manufacturer instructions and determine whether your material is dry-clean only! Other materials may need to be hung or gently warmed to remove creases or other storage marks. Since this process can change the size slightly, it should always be done before measuring and cutting.

Adjust Your Stitch Length

Vinyl fabrics are too tough for tiny stitches. If you notice your threads tangling or breaking, or if your machine keeps skipping stitches, try switching to a longer stitch length. Three millimeters is a good rule of thumb, but you'll likely need to run some tests before you can determine what will work best with your particular material.

Choose a Heavy Needle

Plastic-coated materials are definitely not for your lightweight needles. The "stickiness" of the fabric puts more stress on your needle than you might expect, even for relatively thin vinyl. Switch to a denim or leather needle for best results.

Don't Pin Your Material!

One of the trickiest things about vinyl and other plastic-coated materials is it's habit of showing every single pin and needle mark. There's no discreetly removing a misplaced seam and hoping no one notices. Plus, all these tiny pin holes can really put a damper on your fabric's waterproofing—no pun intended. Instead, use alternatives like sewing clips, or, in a pinch, you can even raid your office supplies and grab some miniature binder clips to keep everything in place.

Avoid Ironing

Plastic and irons don't mix well. The fastest way to ruin your fabric—and maybe even your iron—is to try ironing a laminated fabric or other plastic material. The water-resistance makes them less susceptible even to steam, but if you've got some tough wrinkles or folds that you can't finger-press away, don't despair. Instead of reaching for your iron, grab a hairdryer. On a low setting, it will provide just enough heat to relax the fabric and let the wrinkles settle without distorting or discoloring your material.

Grab Your Mallet

If you can't iron, how exactly are you going to manage all these bulky seam allowances? Well, grab your trusty rubber mallet and get started! Pounding the material flat with a soft rubber mallet provides the same benefits of pressing your seams as you sew, but without melting your material and with the added benefit of providing some serious anger management opportunities!

Choose Thread to Match

Picking out the right thread for your material can be a bit tricky. Not all vinyl fabrics require a heavy-duty thread, but some work best using only industrial-strength. So where does yours lie? Think about not only the weight and strength of the vinyl itself, but also of how the finished project will be used. A garment probably doesn't need industrial-strength stitching, but it's pretty important not to have threads coming undone while it's being worn. A heavy-duty thread is probably best in this situation. Making vinyl placemats? The side seams and top stitching aren't going to be called on to resist much direct wear and tear, so a standard thread weight would be appropriate.

Store On a Roll

Of course, the easiest way to deal with wrinkles in your vinyl is to avoid them entirely. The best way to do this is to store your material on a roll rather than folding it with the rest of your fabric stash. No room for cardboard cores? Try hanging your vinyl vertically, using skirt hangers with clips. Loosely form the vinyl into accordion folds, then hang so that the folds run vertically, pinned in place by the skirt clips on the hanger. Though it's not quite as effective as rolling your vinyl, it will prevent the worst of the creases caused by storing your folded vinyl on a shelf or in a box.

Mark Seams with Tape

Since pins are out as a marking material, and because the waterproofing of many vinyl fabrics wreaks havoc with erasable markers and other marking utensils, one of the easiest ways to mark your seam lines and other important pattern details is probably lurking in your DIY closet right now: painters' tape! It's easy to apply, flexes with your fabric so it stays put until you move it, and, when you do peel it away, it comes up without leaving sticky residue to wash away.

Choose Your Pattern Wisely

Choosing the right pattern to use with vinyl fabric is half the battle. Like any bulky fabric, opt for items with few overlapping seams to minimize the bulk and stiffness of heavy seam allowances. For garments made of or including vinyl, always do your fitting on a toile, or practice garment, that will allow you to make any necessary alterations without putting needle marks in your finished garment. Since vinyl doesn't tend to breathe or stretch, avoid very snug-fitting or highly tailored garments, as they can be uncomfortable to wear as well as difficult to execute well.

Practice, Practice, Practice

This is the real key to getting good at working with vinyl—or any other sewing technique, for that matter. Always test out your sewing machine settings and sew a few practice seams when working with a new material. Try making simple, or familiar projects first, so you know what to expect from the pattern. Try not to get too frustrated with any errors you might make at first. Before you know it, you'll be a vinyl-sewing pro!

What Is Taffeta?

What Is Taffeta?

Taffeta or taffeta fabric is a fabric made from cotton, silk or synthetic fibers such as polyester. It is known for its shiny and stiff surface as well as its strength and durability.
Taffeta is often used to make dresses, skirts, jackets, ties, costumes and wedding gowns. It is also frequently used as a lining fabric for other garments because it is lightweight and has a smooth surface that makes it easy to slip on.
Depending on the material and weave, taffeta can have a different look and feel. For example, there are shiny taffeta fabrics that are more suitable for festive occasions and matt taffeta fabrics that are more suitable for everyday wear.

Polyester Taffeta for Textile Labels

Woven labels can have taffeta edging either on the top and bottom or on the left and right. This means that 0.24” - 0.28” (6-7 mm) extra fabric is woven to the sides for sewing on. 

Polyester taffeta is a strong, tightly woven fabric that serves as a reinforced surface for sewing on the label. For woven labels, the taffeta tape is usually woven from the same material as the rest of the label. The taffeta strip can be designed in different widths and colors and is often found on the edges of the label.

Taffeta border

Advantages of Taffeta Fabric for Clothing Labels

The taffeta fabric on the edges of clothing labels is often used to make labels more durable and resistant. Taffeta edging strengthens the edges of the labels so that they do not fray or wear out easily. This is especially important when labels are sewn into clothing or other items that will be washed or subjected to frequent wear and tear.

Taffeta fabric in woven labels often has a smooth, shiny surface. The taffeta edge may also have a fine texture or pattern to complement or accentuate the design of the label. Taffeta edges are usually woven to give the label a clean, neat edge.

Taffeta edges are also woven slightly thinner than the label itself. This is a great advantage if the labels are to be sewn into a thick seam. This way the seam does not become even thicker.

In addition, the taffeta edge can also have a decorative function and give the labels a more luxurious look.

Sewing Tips for Taffeta

If you want to sew labels with taffeta, you should use the sewing machine settings based on the characteristics of the clothing item.

If you are planning to sew a project with taffeta fabric, we have put together some tips for you:

1. Use the right sewing machine needle: A needle with a fine point, such as a universal or micro-textile needle, is ideal for taffeta. Do not use blunt needles as they can poke holes in the fabric.
2. Use the right sewing thread: Use a thin, smooth sewing thread that matches your taffeta fabric. A cotton or polyester sewing thread in a matching color is usually a good choice.
3. Use a non-slip foot or Teflon foot: Use a special non-slip foot or Teflon foot to minimize slippage of the taffeta on the sewing machine.
4. Pre-washing the fabric: Before sewing taffeta, the fabric should be washed and dried to avoid deformation after sewing.
5. Use a higher sewing speed: When sewing taffeta, use a higher sewing speed to achieve an even stitch pattern.
6. Avoid high temperature ironing: Taffeta should not be ironed at a high temperature as this can damage the fabric. Use a low ironing temperature or place a cloth between the iron and the taffeta fabric to protect it.
7. Sew slowly and precisely: As taffeta is a stiff fabric, it can be more difficult to sew straight lines. Therefore, sew slowly and precisely to achieve an even stitch pattern.
8. Do not use pins: pins can poke holes in the taffeta fabric and damage the shiny surface. Instead, use weights or staples to hold the fabric in place.
9. Cut the fabric carefully: taffeta fabrics should be cut with sharp scissors to avoid fraying and uneven edges.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your taffeta project will be successful and beautiful.

8 Common Clothing Materials and Their Carbon Footprints

Common Clothing Materials and Their Carbon Footprints


When attempting to reduce our carbon footprint, most of us turn to the obvious: we try to minimize our driving time, use less air conditioner, and perhaps eat more locally-grown foods. But what about wearing different clothes?

A LOT of energy goes into producing clothing, but some materials are better than others. In the infographic below, we break down the process that goes into producing 8 of the most common clothing materials and also identify the ounces of CO2 emissions that go into producing one ounce of material. Of course, lower is better!

To understand just how eco-friendly your clothing is, check out the infographic below:

8 Common Clothing Materials and Their Carbon Footprints

If you have ever wondered what the carbon footprint of your clothing is, you are in luck! In this infographic, we list 8 common clothing materials based on their carbon footprints.

Material: Lyocell - Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: 7 years
  • Commonly Used In: Underwear, casual wear, towels and denim
  • How it’s Made: Hard wood is chipped into small, square pieces that are then softened by removing lignin. Then milled to wet pulp, bleached and dried through spinning.
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 4.4

Material: Linen- Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: Synthetic
  • Commonly Used In: Table cloths, dish cloths, bed sheets, furniture covers
  • How it’s Made: Made from the flax plant, which is harvested and then dried. Next, it is threshed to remove its stalk, seeds and other unwanted materials. Bacteria is introduced to further decompose the materials in a process called retting, and once the material is further broken down until it can be spun into a yarn.
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 7.1

Material: Cotton (Conventional)- Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: 3 years
  • Commonly Used In: Bedding, towels, t-shirts mattresses and cushions
  • How it’s Made: It is made from a mixture of cotton and polyester through the same procedure discussed above once mixed together the difference comes when drying for it uses microwave drying method.
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 10.2

Material: Recycled Polyester - not Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: NA (Synthetic)
  • Commonly Used In: Poly neck jackets, denim tops
  • How it’s Made: The plastic from plastic bottles (called PET) is sterilized and crushed into small chips. These chips are then heated into a yarn that is then baled, dyed and knitted into polyester fabric.
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 9.2

Material: Organic Cotton - Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: 6 months - 1 year
  • Commonly Used In: Bedding, towels, t-shirts, mattresses and cushions
  • How it’s Made: Once the cotton is harvested, it is separated from its seed. It is then sterilized and bleached being spun into rolls of material
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 10.2

Material: Bamboo - Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: 3-5 years
  • Commonly Used In: Shoes, hats and (increasingly common) other types of apparel
  • How it’s Made: Bamboo trees are harvested, then retted. Fiber is extracted and spun into a yarn.
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 12.7

Material: Spandex- not Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: NA (Synthetic)
  • Commonly Used In: Shorts, leggings and jerseys, gloves, swim suits and other skin-tight garments
  • How it’s Made: Spandex was originally developed in the 1950s as a replacement for rubber, and is made by reacting a polyester with a diisocyanate to form polyurethane
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 14.0

Material: Nylon- Biodegradable

  • Time to Maturity: NA (Synthetic)
  • Commonly Used In: Military uniforms, umbrellas, ponchos
  • How it’s Made: Made in a chemical process in which two sets of molecules are combined, heated and then separated into thin strands.
  • Ounces of CO2 Emissions/Ounce of Material: 15.9


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