Tricky Fabrics!

What fabrics do you find the most challenging to work with?

shutterstock 45355 Tricky Fabrics!Maybe it’s knits because they stretch out of shape. Perhaps you have a particularly harrowing tale of matching up plaids. There’s always vinyl to frustrate you into the wee hours of the morning. For me, I cringe when I think of working with sheer fabrics. Somehow I always mess up, usually I need a new needle and forget halfway through the project until everything is nearly in tatters.

We’re asking this question in an upcoming issue of Sew News and we want to hear your responses. Post a comment below and one lucky responder will be contacted to be a featured reader in an upcoming issue of Sew News. The featured reader will receive a fabulous prize from the Sew News stash.

Also, remember that you can find all the answers you need for tricky fabrics inside the pages of Sew News, or on our website.

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44 Responses to Tricky Fabrics!

  1. Kimberly Hart-Paxson says:

    I always start a new project with a new needle. I buy my needles in packs of 100 so that it doesn’t bother me so much to be “using up” so many needles. They’re also cheaper that way. This way you never wreck your projects because you’re being too frugal with needles. Of course I keep plenty of specialty needles on hand too, which I stock up on when the fabric store has their notions wall items on sale for half price.

  2. Denise says:

    I have such a difficult time matching uneven plaids when sewing that I don’t work with them anymore because it is not worth the frustration.

  3. Susie says:

    Sheers can be an issue, but I have more trouble with the knit metallics. It’s like sewing through a rubber tire!

  4. amy mayer says:

    Chiffon!!! So slippery even when pinned.

  5. Katherin Clayton says:

    denium, I never feel like my stitches will hold and it’s so thick.

  6. Carol Owen says:

    In the past few years I have made a few baby blankets out of “Minky dot” fabric.
    That is a VERY tricky fabric to work with because it stretches out of shape
    so easily!!! I love the fabric because it is so very soft, so if you have an answer to
    this problem,
    I would appreciate it!

  7. Carol Lewis says:

    Tulle! I can never get it cut out right yet alone sewn right. And I consider myself a pretty seasoned seamstress!

  8. Connie says:

    Satin…slippery as an eel!
    Newbie, novice, or pro
    The menace of all I feel
    whether to cut, pin, or sew!!!!

  9. Diane says:

    Me and very stretchy knits do not get along.

  10. Beulah says:

    Silks! I have a love hate relationship with silks…I love them as long as I don’t have to sew them.

  11. Marjorie says:

    I’m with Carol, I have a love/hate relationship with Minky. I have watched the YouTube Videos, read the tutorials and pinned, pinned and pinned some more. Even the walking foot didn’t make the experience pleasurable. But its so soft and beautiful!!

  12. Marilee Hawkins says:

    Vinyls! I have had to make seat covers for my SIL for his boat, what a challenge. I didn’t have a walking foot with me, and they did not feed well under the foot. Had to cut strips of paper to place on both sides of the fabrics so they would slide through. What a pain!

  13. Carla Smith says:

    Sewed some stretchy metallic several years ago. It was such a nightmare that I haven’t tried it again. It ran very easily when sewing.

  14. Debora Kerr says:

    I have the most trouble with natural blends that are not tightly woven. I seem to get some distortion on edges, buttonholes, and other pressure points.

  15. bonnie says:

    knits can make me crazy, silks and chiffons test my patience, vinyl is a tad bit slippery under the needle and denium can be a little tough so I stay with cotton most times.

  16. Renée O. says:

    Corduroy!!! Well I have it figured out now, but as a new sewer, I had no idea that the direction of the fabric mattered!!! I tell people I did it on purpose for style!

  17. Debbie Echaves says:

    The sequin fabric were the dots are glued on! Slow sewing so needle doesn’t gum up and sewers aid (lubricant that keeps things cool)

  18. Rosemarie Benson says:

    My hardest was making my son a Dracula Cape out of the black fluid silky material
    that nuns used for their outer garments.It was on sale for a dollar a yard.So,I laid it all out on taped together newspaper and cut it out and sewed with the newspaper still attached.It came out beautiful, to my surprise. Sadly someone stole the cape. I had a great time making it and my son got many compliments at the Halloween Party he went to.

  19. zoe says:

    The most trixy thing I have attempted is sewing gloss vinyl motiefs onto stretchy see through mesh! I had to literally walk the roller foot over it, and ended up with excruciating pain in my right hand! I have tries silicone spray, teflon foot- all to no avail! What is the answer??

  20. karen colopy says:

    The sheer fabrics are my worst. They will not lie still so I find them hard to cut straight and when you sew, even with at walking foot they creepy crawl where ever they want to be.

  21. Tina says:

    Statins for sure

  22. Kathleen says:

    Too many to list here, and don’t worry girls, I never win anything. =)

  23. Debi Gibson says:

    I find anything that stretches a challenge!!!

  24. Silk Charmeuse and Chiffon–anything silky/slippery! Gimme a knit or a plaid ANY day!

  25. Deb Davidson says:

    Satin and other slippery fabrics for sure.

  26. Theresa Brooks says:

    Silky fabrics move and shift. I don’t sew them that often so have to rediscover how to sew on them every time I use them! Using tissue paper strips, or strips of the stabilizer that can be washed out (if the fabric is washable) helps with silkies.

  27. Beth R says:

    Slinky fabrics! I have a hard enough time sewing seams on cottons that I’ve pinned – when the fabrics slip and slide, I’m really challenged!

  28. Karen A says:

    I dislike working with chiffon. I once had to alter a prom dress that was made out of all over beaded chiffon. Not only did I have to struggle with the chiffon, I had to remove then reattach beads after I made the alterations.

  29. Maggie says:

    I have the most trouble with plaids, so I try not to use them.

  30. Inita Bermudez says:

    I have a lot of trouble sewing velvet. I know how to sew it now ,but It still can be trouble

  31. Rosa Smith says:

    I have sewn on nearly every fabric, but they tested my patience so much that now I mostly quilt and stick to cotton.

  32. Jean Brugger says:

    Plaids are not hard it just takes a longer time to lay them out. The fewer and straighter the seams the easier they are. On balanced plaids making sure the pattern notches are on the same cross lines helps cut the time needed to match. On unbalanced plaids cutting each piece individually one layer at a time and flipping the pattern works. This does increase cutting time, but decreases frustration in sewing. I cringe that so much ready to wear is done with mismatched plaids. Note that side darts will throw off the match and so decide whether it is better to have the match above or below the dart.

  33. Chris W says:

    I made a satin cape for my niece. It was very slippery even with all my pinning. It turned out great!

  34. jacquie says:

    Definitely stretch fabrics give me the most trouble, once sewed with a tulle that had little beads and sequins glued onto it – beautiful fabric, but challenging!

  35. Celeste B says:

    The hardest time I had was with a knit that had ‘sequins’ on it. I had so many problems trying to get a nice coverstitch hem.

  36. Melissa says:

    Definitely taffeta. Stiff and slippery and not very forgiving if you have to remove stitches!!

  37. Evelyn says:

    Slippery fabrics and sheer fabrics are my biggest challenge. I’m sure there is helpful advice out there somewhere for me.

  38. Sherry T says:

    Sheers are a nightmare for me…..if they are not loose enough they fall apart at the seams.=0(

  39. Marjorie in NM says:

    I love all the comments about slick filmy fabric. My favorite trick (when I was doing that knid of sewing) was an old large sweater. I cut the sweater across under the arms and sewed across to close it like a pillow case. I then threaded a cord close to the edge of the ribbing and then slid it on the fold down leaf of my cabinet and pulled the cord tight. I always cut slick fabric on tissue paper and sewed with the paper and fabric sandwiched. But the sweater was the trick because the fabric wasn’t slipping and sliding.

  40. Pat says:

    I made a cover for my grandson for when he sat in a grocery cart. I picked a nice navy & red cotton print for the outside and what I know as “minky” for the inside. Minky stretches & the cotton doesn’t. It came out perfect after much “finagaling”.

  41. Ann says:

    Velvet. Hands down, woven velvet just never behaves.

  42. Jane C. says:

    I love Minky Dots but what a challenge. Should you starch the fabric first.

  43. Tanja H says:

    Me and super stretchy materials are Not friends.

  44. Lily Kaufman says:

    When I try to shorten the t-shirts, because they stretch as I sew, they curl up and pucker up. Ho can I fix that? I need to cut most of my shirts because I am short and they make these shirts too long. I wear a size L. HELP?

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