Sewing Taffeta Tips

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


taffeta

Taffeta is a luxurious fabric. Lightweight but crisp, it has a slight sheen to it and is the perfect choice for formal wear. It’s also used in home decor projects. Taffeta has some qualities (delicate, slippery, prone to unraveling) that may make it a bit daunting to sewists. However, with a few sewing taffeta tips, you can face any project using this wonderful fabric without fear.

1. Don’t skip the pre-wash before you begin your project. Washing will help reduce the stiffness of the fabric and make the taffeta easier to work with. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s washing and drying instructions on the end of the fabric bolt.

2. Taffeta snags easily, so be sure to use sharp scissors and new, sharp pins. If you can, use weights instead of pins during the cutting process. And be sure to keep your pins within the seam allowance to avoid unsightly holes on your finished garment. You’ll also want to make sure that it’s not you snagging the fabric; it’s best to remove any jewelry and take care of any callouses on your hands before working with taffeta.

3. When pressing seams, keep the iron temperature low and use a pressing cloth to avoid direct heat on the fabric. Taffeta is prone to water staining, so make sure your iron won’t be spitting steam at the fabric. Your best bet, as always, is to test a few scraps first to see how your taffeta reacts to the heat of the iron.

4. Avoid using chalk or water soluble pens, for the same reason you want to avoid spitting irons. Both chalk and water soluble pens will be difficult to remove without causing water spots. Instead, use tailor’s tacks instead to create any marks, or cut notches in the seam allowance.

5. Practice, practice, practice on scraps of your fabric first. If you follow one of my sewing taffeta tips, make it this one! Because the fabric is prone to holes and snags, you’ll want to avoid ripping out stitches as much as possible. Adjust stitch length and tension before you really begin sewing. If you do need to rip out stitches, you can make holes less noticeable by rubbing your fingernail against it to coax the fibers back in place.

6. Taffeta has a bit of a slip to it, so it’s prone to puckering seams. When sewing, be sure to hold the fabric taut as you feed in through the machine as well as at the back. Also make sure you are using a new, sharp needle. A dull one can cause holes in your fabric, in addition to puckered seams.

7. Taffeta ravels very easily, so don’t skip finishing your seams. Pinking shears are quick option, but French seams, where the raw edge of the fabric is enclosed, are an especially nice touch, particularly on formal wear. Applying a light interfacing can also help control the fraying during sewing.

Have you worked with taffeta before? Do you have any sewing taffeta tips? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

You might also enjoy tips for sewing with chiffon, sewing satin, and sewing spandex. Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a free sewing pattern!

Comments

  1. Gayle says:

    re pre-washing the taffeta…………..as a rule, when prewash, I just throw fabric in the washer on hot with liquid soap, a color catcher, and vinegar in the downy ball for the final rinse. Then I dry on hot. I snip the corners off to prevent “excessive” ravelling in the wash. Since taffeta ravels (a lot?) hgow do you handle the cut edges when prewashing?

    1. Starr says:

      I would quickly zip a row of stitching just inside each cut edge. I would also use cold water, gentle cycle and a soap for dark fabrics.

    2. susan says:

      I like to serge edges of frayful fabrics before prewashing, including linens …anything that frays gets serged when sewn around here.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I just spent a few weeks working with taffeta. To cut the fabric I sandwiched it in paper and used serrated blade gingher shears. Thought I used a fine microtex needle snag still occurred. Luckily the inherent unevenness of taffeta makes it less noticeable. I marked my fabric with waxed paper but was hard to see.

  3. Starr says:

    Just before Christmas I made a child’s floor length dress in royal blue velvet with Christmas plaid taffeta ruffles. I attached 1/4″ ribbon on the edges of the ruffles: big mistake. The ribbon and stitching simply pulled away from the ruffle. The last time I saw the dress, which took hours to make as I added sleeves and lined the bodice, was on my granddaughter who was happily bouncing down the stairs on her bum, ruffles flying!

  4. Debbie Ericson says:

    I have been using inexpensive tulle in seam allowance, to strengthen seam process. I cut the tulle in stips and pin in with slippery fashion fabric. The tulle acts as a bias weave and gives a stretch feature to keep fabric in place. Very lightweight and almost invisible.