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Conversational Threads

Handling soft, slippery fabrics

Shirley_Hercules | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I have some microfiber fabric which I plan to make into a suit. A light weight one for the blouse, and a heavier weight one for the pants and jacket. Having cut out a skirt and blouse with a rayon sand washed silk-like fabric and had the parts not line up properly and the grain not be exactly right, I was wondering if there were any special hints at cutting out. Using weights was suggested and using a roller blade to cut out on a special cutting surface was also suggested. Does anyone have additional suggestions?


  1. A.Reddy | | #1

    If your fabric is washable, iron with spray starch
    and then cut the fabric. Pre-test first. Once spray starched and iron the fabric is not that slippery and easier to cut.

    1. Jen_Donnelly | | #2

      *I have often heard people suggest that you interleave your fabric layers with tissue paper as you prepare to cut. A layer of tissue, fabric layer, a layer of tissue, fabric, then pattern on top. Supposed to work really well! Good luck.

      1. sewjan | | #3

        *One thing I see when teaching is lengths of fabric hanging off the edge of the table. It is nearly impossible to cut true to grain if any of your fabric is doing this. Fold excess and stack at the end of your cutting board. I use a folding corrugated board on top of my cutting table - then I can push pins in to hold fabric straight. It also has lines to use in lining up the selvages. This works very well with chiffon!

        1. beth_ | | #4

          *I use liquid starch for really hard-to-control fabrics like chiffon. I tried the tissue paper method and didn't like it, I could get the lengthwise grain aligned but still have the crosswise grain out of whack (until after my pattern was cut out and the pieces all changed shape). When I made my daughter's First Communion dress out of 14 yards of chiffon, I straightened the ends carefully, then dipped the entire length in liquid starch and hung it up to dry on a shower curtain rod. It was a dream to cut and sew, and since the rest of the dress was washable, I hand washed the finished garment to remove the starch.

          1. lin_hendrix | | #5

            *Hi Shirley, Something I do when a fabric is being recalcitrant is tape it down to the cutting table after carefully positioning the grain. Use drafter's masking tape or good ol' Scotch tape. As long as the project doesn't stay uncut for days and days the tape glue isn't a problem. I tape three ends (selvedge, fold, and one crossgrain), and use weights and sometimes the starch too. You'll have to use a rotary cutter. The other thing I do is to pull a thread where unseen-on-the-front construction lines match the straight of grain. An example of this would be a folded over facing on a blouse. I pull the thread for cutting the edge of the facing, cut that edge then measure the distance to the first fold, pull that thread too. Then I pin my pattern piece aligning the pulled threads to the facing edge and fold line. The pulled thread makes folding and pressing easier too. Also don't cut on double fabric. Copy or redraw the on-fold and doubled pieces and lay them out on a single layer of fabric. It also helps to work with a slightly fatter seam allowance than usual (5/8" to 3/4") especially on bias or cross grain seams; if you do wind up goofing there's usually enough room to correct the problem. This works well for matching a big pattern or plaids too. And, if the garment warrents it or if you're sewing a lot of things out of similar fabric, go out and buy a new pair of scissors just for slippery stuff (or new rotary blades). Save these shears just for this type of fabric.--lin

          2. Jeffery_Diduch | | #6

            *This is what we do in the garment industry when cutting individual linings and slippery cloths; a layer of kraft paper is laid out on the table and the fabric is spread over it. Then a layer of paper that has all the pattern pieces marked directly on it is placed on top. The layers are all lined up exactly along one edge, and they are stapled together along the edge (provided that there are no staples in the actual pieces) and around the pieces. Both the paper and the staples help stabilise, so if you don't want to staple, I would still use paper. This way, we also avoid pinning which causes the cloth to shift and the cut never comes out even, and it also keeps the grain straight. There are several variations to this, and it wouldn't be too hard to come up with a method that suits your needs, abilities, and equipment.J

          3. TAGR | | #7

            *Some one had suggested that I place a flat bedsheet on my cutting board and secure it with large paper clips. I've successfully used this technique for velvets and any other fabric that wants to scoot around. Lay the fabric on the sheet and get the grain lines straightened. Then pin the pattern to the material AND the sheet. I sew for a dress company and this has saved me alot of time.

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