Quick Tips For Sewing Difficult Fabrics

Frustrated woman
Image credit: @freepic/ user18526052

Quick Tips For Sewing Difficult Fabrics

Conquering The Difficult Fabrics – Quick Tips For Easier Sewing

The satisfaction you feel when your sewing project ends successfully is immeasurable, but sometimes it can be tricky to get to that point. Especially if you’re working with challenging and difficult fabrics when simple tasks like mere folding and cutting can become very frustrating.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to improve the situation immediately like adjusting the machine’s thread tension and identify the best setting for the particular fabric. Speeding up as well as slowing down the sewing can also do wonders. Making sure that the fabric is free of dust or any adhesive residue can make it cooperate better.

However, what to do when these step doesn’t work and the stubborn material is refusing to mold to your wishes? In that case, you need to learn more about difficult fabrics and how to conquer them. And that’s exactly why this helpful article is here.

Fragile Fabrics

Some fabrics are so fragile that they tear up easily when you try to cut them. Sometimes they rip in a way that makes the entire piece completely unusable. Not only that is a waste of fabric and money, but also can cause quite a headache.

Still, some tips can help you dealing with such fragile and difficult fabrics:

  • Soaking – When you soak these delicate fabrics in lukewarm water, they will become sturdier.
  • Proper tool – Use long-bladed scissors for cutting fragile materials, aided by a heavy ruler along the edge so that less stress is exerted on the fabric. A rotary cutter might come in handy as well.
  • Make it more resilient – Using strips of starched fabric under the seams when you start sewing. This will provide extra resilience to delicate and difficult fabrics.
  • Fewer pins – try using the least number of pins on fragile materials as much as possible. Also, let the hems take on a rounded shape as opposed to pressing hem flat.

Thick Materials Are The Most Difficult Fabrics To Cut

On the contrary to fragile fabrics, thick materials don’t rip easily. In fact, cutting them might be quite a challenge. If the first step is so difficult just imagine how sewing will be. Still, that’s not the case. With proper tools, sewing can be actually the easiest part. If you manage to cut it, that is.

Here are some tricks to use when dealing with thick fabric:

  • Craft knife – If your professional scissors are struggling and can’t conquer the thick material a craft knife is coming to the rescue. Place your fabric wrong side up over a piece of wood or cutting mat so that you don’t accidentally scratch the fabric surface if the knife slips. Then cut the fabric with the utmost attention.
  • Edging – Funny thing about the thick fabrics is that some don’t require edging, while other fabrics may need a double row of close stitches without a fold to make a hem. Once you cut it, you will see which one you’re dealing with.
  • Special needles – Ordinary sewing needles aren’t designed to pierce very thick materials. To prevent your needle from breaking you will need leather-grade heavy needles.
  • Finish by hand – Equally important as the proper needles are to use strong thread. Finishing of the thick fabric is often best when done by hand.

Cutting leather fabric with rotary cutter

Image credit:@freepic/etsy.com

Slippery Fabrics

The biggest problem with slippery fabric is that they, well, slip. It’s a hard task keeping them in place while you are sewing. But it isn’t the impossible one.

With the right hacks from the sewing pros, you can manage to finish your project with slippery fabric without stressing out:

  • Make it less slippery – Put slippery fabric between two layers of tissue paper to prevent them from slipping away from you or your sewing machine. Also, this can be helpful in avoiding snags that could destroy the smooth surface of the fabric.
  • Stiffen the fabric with spray – Applying a light layer of starch spray across the fabric it will stiffen it and make it much easier to handle while you’re cutting.
  • Press from the wrong side – Protect your shiny fabric by always pressing it from the wrong side. Putting paper under seams when you press them is always a good idea to avoid making creases on the right side of the fabric. If the fabric must be pressed on the right side, don’t forget to use a pressing cloth.
  • Hand sews – Tacking by hand or hand basting is a great way to prepare hems and seams of shiny fabrics before you use the sewing machine, which will help prevent distortion in the final product.

Woman in a gorgeous dress made by satin - one of the most difficult fabrics due to its slippery features

Image credit: @Freepic/Racool_studio

Furry Materials Are The Most Difficult Fabrics To Sew

While they look thick, both real and fake furry materials usually don’t present a problem when cutting. Sewing them, however, is a whole different thing. Long fur fibers can easily get entangled with your stitches, making the whole process very hard and frustrating.

Still, this might be preventable with a simple bushing of the furry fabric before sewing it. Use a soft hairbrush and make sure all the fibers are lying in one direction. When you start to saw, check if the fibers are flat and in the same direction, arranged parallel to your stitches.

For more tips on sewing with fur, check out this video:

Keep in mind that furry fabrics tend to have fragile bases so use double rows of stitches for seams. A coarse thread and long stitches will secure a firm gripping of the furry fabric.

Woman holding fake fur fabric

Image credit: @Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Working with fragile, thick, slippery and furry fabrics can be a troublesome task, there’s no doubt about it. Special characteristics of all of these fabrics are making cutting and sewing quite challenging. Most of them tend to move during the cutting stage so that neat edges seem like something impossible to make.

All the features of these difficult fabrics are making them intimidating to many sewers. However, the successful result of sewing with these challenging materials that is certainly worth the troubles. So don’t be scared to roll up your sleeves, give in some extra effort, apply these tips and create something very special from these fabrics.

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