How to Sew Fine Fabrics… Even If You’re Scared of Them

Fine fabrics don’t come cheap, and let’s face it: Purchasing an expensive fabric can be downright scary. I can’t even look at a fine fabric without feeling guilty, much less purchase it. Know what else is scary? Learning how to sew fine fabrics.

If you pay a pretty penny for a few precious yards of luxury fabric, you’ll want to sew it properly to make sure you get the most out of it. That’s why learning how to sew fine fabrics is so important. Use these tips and tricks when learning how to sew fine fabrics and you won’t be swearing at your sewing machine — or crying over fabric that costed you half your paycheck.

6 expert sewing tips for working with expensive fabrics

Iconic tweed jacket sewing project

Photo via Bluprint instructor Lorna Knight

1. Be aware of fraying.

Some fine fabrics have a tendency to fray on the edges while you’re working. Continuous fraying can take inches away from your seam allowances, throwing off your finished measurements.

Take the gorgeous wool tweed in the photo above, for example. This Chanel-style jacket is straight out of Bluprint’s Iconic Tweed Jacket class with Lorna Knight. In the class, Lorna covers how to stabilize the tweed to keep everything in place and avoid fraying while you’re sewing fine fabrics. (And yes, the jacket pattern is free to all Bluprint members who sign up for the class!)

Fraying can get out of control on other fine fabrics, too. Fortunately, there are several ways to remedy frays. Two of the simplest ways are to apply a bias-cut fusible interfacing to the edges to keep everything in place, or just use a fray check to seal the edges. You could also use a spray stabilizer, but be sure to test it out on a swatch before applying it to a bigger piece.

2. Sharpen those scissors.

Fine fabrics can have very sturdy fibers that are difficult to cut. Before you begin cutting a fine fabric, be sure that your scissors are sharpened and it will save you a lot of problems while cutting and sewing.

3. Buy extra fabric for test swatches.

Don’t be afraid to test stitches and other techniques out on some scrap fabric. I know it’s painful to think about wasting one inch of that expensive cashmere, for example, on a test swatch. But isn’t that better than ruining your entire garment?

4. Sew slowly and carefully.

Yes, I know you already do this. (Wink, wink.) But sewing slowly and carefully is especially important when you’re sewing fine fabrics. Keep in mind that sometimes fine fabrics don’t get along well with a seam ripper. Ripping stitches from some fine fabrics can weaken the weave and also make the old seam line visible. Sew slowly to avoid ever using that seam ripper.

5. Use a stitch starter.

Do you have a hungry sewing machine? My worst nightmare is putting an expensive luxury fabric into my sewing machine, only to have the sewing machine eat it up. I find Linda’s tip on using a stitch starter so useful in these situations, including sewing with fine fabrics. This works for both light-weight fabrics and heavier fabrics.

6. Match the needle and thread.

You may already know that different types of fabric require different types of sewing needles. Those needles also need an equal partner in sewing thread. Before you begin sewing your fine fabric, do some research to find out the best needle and thread pairing to use. This will stop all kinds of awful things from happening, from the machine eating your fabric to puckering and skipped stitches.

Not sure how to make that important choice? Get some advice from Bluprint instructor Sandra Betzina on choosing the right needle and thread pairing.

What’s the most expensive fabric you’ve ever purchased? What did you make with it?


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