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Sewing with lightweight fabric

DianeN8 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I love to sew with silky-like fabrics, whether they’re polyester or a rayon blend. I continuously have trouble with the way garments hang. For example, I made a tunic top with raglan sleeves and here’s what it looked like:  the sides hung lower than the front or back;  the back swung out like I was standing in a breeze and it was also too short.(I did fit the pattern for a slightly rounded back).    So, challenged, I bought the same fabric again. Now, before I cut it out, I need some really good sewing advice.  Is the fabric slipping as I cut?  (I thought I was being careful).  Does anyone have any suggestions?  It seems like it needs weight at the bottom. Help, help!


  1. sanderson | | #1

    This has been a hard one for me, too.  I think I want the pattern to work some sort of magic.  I've had to shift that kind of thinking to remember that the pattern is simply a plan, a very good idea but that I have to think all along.  I'd suggest that if on your first attempt you were happy with the fitting you did on the back and through the top that when you cut out the next version, how about leaving the bottoms "uncut"?  That is, leave huge allowances...6 to 8 inches or so...and finish the side seams and lower edges after you have tried on the piece to see how it hangs.  If you do think that it needs weight on the bottom, would a bias facing do the trick or would that interfere with the drape and swing you're looking for?  Please let us know how round two goes.

  2. lin327 | | #2

    When I sew silkies I find that cutting is often where I have a lot of problems.  Pins bubble the fabric, and lifting from the scissors can twist it.  The folded fabric fights with itself, and can twist and slide off grain.  If the tiniest bit hangs over the edge of the table, the weight can also twist the fabric out of shape.  Also the tug of the scissors can stretch bias cuts, such as skirt sides.

    I have the best luck using single layer layouts, lots of weights on the pattern, and a very sharp rotary cutter.  This gives me the least distortion while cutting.  Sometimes I get the creeps, that is the thread tightens up the seam and shortens it.  I now use the chain stitch on my Babylock evolve, the stitch is formed with less tension that the lock stitch.  When I'm finished, I let the garment hang so it can sag and droop where it wants to.  Many of these fabrics have minds of their own.

    Lastly, I found some weighted cord in the drapery department of Len's Mill Store in Cambridge, Ontario.  It's used  to give heavy fabrics the proper drape or hang, so they don't look sticky-outy. (The description of the clerk.)  It's a soft braided cord that has small weights spaced in the middle.  I used it on a "Titanic" era wool skirt to keep it from blowing up in the wind while the re-enactor was guiding people out of doors.  She said  it was a sanity and modesty saver.

    1. DianeN8 | | #3

      Hi Kat K,   Again, thanks for the suggestions.  I did purchase the Evolve and so far I'm impressed.  I'll take every lesson they offer, but ...wow!  Threading the loopers is a snap! The stitch quality seems very good, too. 

      I printed out your suggestions for silky, lightweight fabric.  I think you're right about the cutting. The weighted cord sounds interesting. too. I'm going to look into that.  A person can find about every tip known to modern man in books. The trick is finding the right book and knowing how to look up what you want.  Words like "the back of my blouse looks like I'm facing into the wind" is not listed!  So thanks for your input as a sewer!

      1. susanmwilson | | #4

        It sounds like you also may have a fit problem.  The "blowin' in the wind" may be due not only to side seams cut slightly bias, but you may not have added enough length to the back, so it is pulling up.  You may also have too much width at the sides,  (esp if you have a full bust and narrow waist/hips in comparison) perhaps tapering the sides in a bit may also help.

        For hems, on sheer fabric like a georgette, my favourite treatment is to do a small narrow zig-zag then cut fabric right up to the stitching.  The thread gives it some weight and it is practically invisible and doesn't ravel at all.

        On a rayon I would probably just turn under twice to whatever depth needed and topstitch.  Or a hem done with my rolled-hem foot would also give slight weight.  The finish would depend on the garment style (casual=topstitched, dressy=rolled hem, blind hem, formal/fancy=turn and zing-zag)


      2. lin327 | | #5

        Much of what I know has come from years of experimenting.  And of course, experiments sometimes don't work.  I always write down what went wrong, and what to do better the next time.  Some of my mistakes are salvagable and some aren't.  The more creative and advanced my sewing becomes the greater the room for totally screwing up.  Some failed experiments I save to look at when I feel creative mania taking over.  I could write a whole issue of threads devoted to my most spectacular failures....or rather, learning experiences!  It might make me feel foolish, but it would let some of the beginners know that mucking up is part of the learning curve.

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