Sewing with Special Occasion Fabrics

Posted on September 24, 2020 by Stephanie Triplett

Taking on the task of sewing a gorgeous ball gown or whimsical couture piece is daunting, and choosing the pattern, fabric, and all the trims that complete it, is no easy feat. In this post, we’re gonna cover some tips that’ll make the sewing process a little easier for some of the most popular and somewhat tricky special occasion fabrics.

Let’s get into it.

  • Use smaller sharp needles and thread that corresponds with the size of the needle to prevent thread breakage.
  • To prevent slippage when cutting, place the paper down first.
  • Use sharp silk pins to prevent snagging.
  • Pre-launder silk to prevent shrinking when pressing.
  • Use a shorter stitch length to obtain the best stitch quality and avoid puckering.
  • Press each seam after it’s been sewn to bond the seams together.
  • Seam finishes like French or Hong Kong will complement formal designs.
  • Use chalk or safety pins to label the front or backside so that the fabric is consistent throughout the project.
  • Pin along the seam allowance to avoid any unwanted pin marks or use a wonder clip to keep pieces in place without making marks.
  • Make sure all cutting tools, needles, and pins are sharp.
  • A walking foot will help feed the fabric through the machine smoothly.
  • Transfer marks from pattern paper using pins and chalk.
  • Rolled hems are best for finishing organza and taffeta to prevent unraveling.
  • When sewing silk charmeuse finish the edges before attaching seams to combat excess unraveling.

  • Keep the fabric directions consistent by finding the fabric nap and choosing which way you want it to go.
  • Do not press velvet directly, only steam it or use a pressing cloth on the wrong side and a tailors clapper, finger press to set the seams.
  • Cut velvet a single layer at a time and use tissue paper to keep the velvet from slipping.
  • Use a roller foot when sewing for the best results.
  • Sew with a longer straight stitch or a stretch stitch to maintain the stretch.
  • Use a tailors clapper to press seams.

Tips for Sewing with Netting & Tulle Fabric

  • Be mindful of the temperature when pressing to avoid melting the fabric.
  • Press out wrinkles before cutting.
  • Use sharp shears to cut out the fabric.
  • Flat top pins are easiest to use when dealing with netted fabric.
  • Use a straight stitch foot when sewing.

Tips for Sewing with Sheer Fabrics

  • Cut sheer fabric one layer at a time to avoid slipping. 
  • Don’t backstitch on sheer fabric— It can cause thread jams and tears. Finish off ends with hand knots or use a lockstitch when sewing.
  • To hide seams under sheer lace, underline it by sewing the double layers together or overlap identical motifs and sew with a matching thread around the lace then, cut off any excess.

Tips for Sewing with Sequined Fabrics

  • Pick simple garment patterns that are free of pleats. 
  • Follow the nap rules from above to make sure all sequins are laying in the same direction.
  • Cut a single layer at a time.
  • Lay down a cleanup layer of paper or fabric to catch any sequins that fall during cutting. 
  • Measure and mark seam allowance and remove sequins using normal scissors that lie between the seam allowance and outer edge to help the fabric glide through the sewing machine without damage. 
  • Use a microtex needle when sewing. 
  • Use a longer stitch when sewing. 
  • Do not backstitch— Use a hand knot instead to finish the seams. 
  • Protect your fabric with a low heat setting and a press cloth when sewing seams to avoid melting sequins.

Sew, cut, and press your special occasions fabrics with care, and don’t forget to take your time when choosing your fabric and selecting a pattern for your project. What are your favorite tips for sewing with special occasion fabrics? Leave a comment below!

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