Hello everyone! I suppose it’s only been a week, but it feels like i’ve been away from blogging for a long time. Last week I had several days all to myself – and I had big plans to spend the majority of that time writing, blogging, and making updates to existing posts. Unfortunately on day one my laptops hard drive had some surprise issues that left my laptop unusable. I’ve restored my old drive to it’s factory settings and right now everything is working fine – hopefully it will stay that way!
Since it’s Friday it seems only right to do yet another Fabric Friday post. This weeks theme is a little less positive then last weeks, and it will probably be less visually interesting too.
There area a lot of materials I love, some that I hate, and some I love to look at but hate to work with. The latter of which is what this post is all about!
In my two years of sewing I’ve worked with a lot of fabrics, and have discovered that every material has certain qualities that makes them wonderful – and others that make me a little angry. Brocade frays if you stare at it too long. Peachskin will happily break any needle you try to shove through it. Taffeta requires a huge amount of ironing and steam to make seams look smooth. Velvet is stunning but jams up machines in seconds. And good luck making a fitted garment from cotton sateen that doesn’t look stiff.
The more I make with each fabric, the better I get at using them. Now I know what problems to expect from the materials, so I can work around them and better decide what’s suitable for certain projects. I often deal with frustrations related to fabrics when sewing, but they happen WAY less often then they used to.
When they do happen, i’m usually using the fabrics i’m going to talk about in this post.
For this week I selected two fabrics – Silk [satin and taffeta], and chiffon.
Chiffon is a fabric that I use in almost everything I make. The sheer material has a gorgeous drape and adds a lovely, light, delicate quality to anything you make with it. It comes in every color you can imagine, along with matte, two tone, and iridescent finishes. It’s pretty damn stunning and I adore the way it looks in most of my finished projects.
But the pretty fabric has a dark side. A side filled with fraying, puckering, pulls, and making it impossible to get patterns cut out precisely.
This fabric is so impossibly slippery – no matter how many pins or pattern weights I use, two “identical” pattern pieces never look the same. Even when cutting two inch strips (something so simple it should be impossible to mess up) I’ll find massive inconsistencies – sometimes more then a half inch off. It’s insane, and frustrating, and a real pain to deal with.
The materials frays more then any I have ever worked with, and it puckers so easily that machine sewing hems is nearly impossible. It’s slippery so getting seams to line up (even when pinned) is a challenge – and after those seams are sewn you have to be really gentle since the fabric is so delicate the stitches can easily create tears or pulls in the material.
Working with it is a thing of nightmares, i’m telling you. But I probably won’t stop using it any time soon, since the end result is something I dream about.
The second fabric I’m going to talk about is one I have less experience with – silks. Since i’m a student, and still learning, I tend to purchase cheaper fabrics. If I have a costume with a large budget, i’d probably rather spend the extra money on trims or embellishments, since I think those tend to make a garment look more fancy and interesting then expensive fabric.
But I have had a few projects made entirely from silk – and they weren’t much fun.
The most recent was an off white, fully silk satin dress. The majority of the project was hand sewn – partly to finish things nicely, but mostly to avoid creating pulls in the delicate fabric. It’s such a fine weave that even the sharpest needle seems to catch on every thread and create annoying and ugly pulls on the pretty fabric.
If you get anything wrong, tearing it out is going to be a nightmare. The fabric will never look the same and can even be damaged beyond repair, all because of a tiny mistake. And the mistake will hurt so much more because of the fabric costs.
To make it worse – there isn’t a good substitute for silk satin, or silk shantung, or silk taffeta. They are all very unique looking, and the polyester alternatives just aren’t the same (or even close).
Of course dealing with the challenges are worth it in the end – I certainly won’t stop using a fabric just because it puts up a fight. And i’ll never avoid using a fabric just because it may be a little challenging…but I can’t promise I won’t complain when dealing with those challenges.
Are there any fabrics you have a love-hate relationship with? Or tips on how to make them a little less painful to sew with? I’d really enjoy hearing about them!
Thanks for reading!