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Conversational Threads

Velvet Sewing Dilemma – distortion of fabrics

momcat50 | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I am having a very hard time getting lining sewn to silk/rayon velvet. I get stretching and size distortion. (p.s.It IS on grain – both pieces.) I have tried the following: basting, pinning very close, Sulky tear away on back (glue from Sulky adhered to lining fabric after paper torn away-chemicals to release Sulky glue would damage velvet and color), Sulky worked great on back of velvet though, oddly enough. walking foot. stretching it as I sewed, velvet on top, velvet on bottom. Nada. So out come the stitches again. It all seems to stretch out when I try to both pin or sew. The fabrics act like a relaxing cat. Any ideas out there? I am hesitant to try spray glue. Closed work area and I have been told it can stain some silks. Thanks!


  1. beo | | #1

    First, make sure you have the fabric supported.. no holding in in your lap. Then pin, using very fine pins. Then hand baste, (I use silk thread) then machine baste. (As palady informed me, make sure your machine and the area to the left of it is flush so that you are not getting drag). Check your stitches, make any corrections, then stitch. Also, I always use a different colored thread for the machine basting so I can easily see what stitches to remove.

    1. momcat50 | | #3

      OK! Thank you for your suggestions. I do pin flat, BUT I don't baste twice, so I will try that. Makes sense. Also, I have more than one machine. My Bernina has a nice big flat clear table. My Brother does not - so I was not using a big flat surface to the left. I will switch to the Bernina as I have a walking for it also.

  2. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #2

    I once made a rayon/poly lined poncho with a loosely woven tweed blend that defied me every step of the way. I laid it out full length on my cutting table, pinned it down along selvage edges and grain line and hand basted the two fabrics together across the entire surface before machine stitching the seam edges. I mastered that pup and made it behave beautifully. It's terribly time consuming, but it could work...after all, it's silk/rayon...worth a bit of time. Best of luck with your project.

    1. momcat50 | | #4

      Mastering "the pup" is exactly what I want to do. I want to not flinch at the thought of working with velvet! I am going to do more basting in general. I was even thinking of basting each piece's seam edge. BEFORE basting together.(twice, before stitching.

      1. User avater
        artfulenterprises | | #5

        Great idea. Although i would pin as suggested and baste from the center out toward the seam edges...gently of course...to avoid distortion. Just for fun, here's a foto of that poncho that looks deceptively simple but was a devil to tame.

        1. sewluving | | #6

          Wow, that is a lovely poncho. Sometimes what looks simple takes the most time. I'll be you get lots of wear out of it too. Heather in Calgary

          1. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #9

            Yep...wear it constantly.

        2. KharminJ | | #7

          Ohhh! That is gorgeous!
          Ohhh! That is gorgeous!

          I like how you used the tassel to pick up the otherwise-subtle lavender in the tweed - one of my favorite 'tricks'!

          Well done!

          Bright Blessings ~ Kharmin

          1. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #8

            Thanks for the kind words.

        3. momcat50 | | #10

          All the work on your poncho was well worth the effort.  Beautiful!

  3. Aspydelia | | #11

    I recently finished two pairs of velvet pants and found that in order to avoid distortion I had to reduce the presser foot pressure alot. In fact to go over seams I had to take it down to zero. I would sew with very little pressure and then as I prepared to go over the seam I would reduce to nothing, then turn up slightly. I also played with the stitch length and ended up using short stitches in the seams and a bit longer for topstitching. This worked for both my machine and my serger. If you are still having trouble, try hand basting on either side of  the stitching line, and maybe even two lines of basting on the inside where it counts. I have found that the control you gain from hand basting often saves time and the results are worth the extra few minutes. Since you mention you have tried basting, I would def look at the presser foot first. If you are basting and still get distortion, it's more than likely the machine settings, or else the way you are feeding into the machine. Well basted seams shouldn't move so it sounds like there is something with quite a bit of mechanical force acting on the seam. If all that doesn't work, try changing to another basting stitch, one that has periodic backstitches, or all backstitches to further lock the stitches in place. Last gasp... hand sew the seams you are having trouble with. Nowhere is it writ thou must use power tools. Folks didn't run naked before electricity.

    Edit: Another thing I forgot to mention is seam tape. putting a stable tape into the seam is another techinique to control distortion.

  4. User avater
    Thimblefingers | | #12


    The technique I have found that works best for me, after doing the pinning and basting as previous replies have suggested, is just to take the presser foot off the machine, drop the feed dogs, and sew freehand.  It takes a bit of practice but I use this method a lot, not just for velvet.  It's the pressure on the foot pushing the velvet plush down - because it has a nap and because of it's depth, it doesn't squash straight down, but moves sideways - that causes the movement.  By eliminating the presser foot, the needle  goes straight into the fabric without pushing the nap around and works like a dandy charm!

  5. HelgaPataki | | #13

    silk velvet

    I serged all around my pieces before I sewed them together.  The serging gave my pieces a firmer grip.  I tried using sulky as well and it wasn't that helpful.  I had to base everything together by hand.  my mistake is that the fabric doesn't stretch at all.  (Cotton weave is much more stretchier that this fabric and silk dupioni also much more stretchier than this fabric).  but serging all around make my project workable. 

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