sewing tips for specialty fabric

For tricky fabrics like lace, sequined & leather, there are certain techniques & tools
that make your project much easier. Here are some tips to get you started.

For tricky fabrics like lace, sequined & leather, there are certain techniques & tools that make your project much easier. Here are some tips to get you started.

lepord fabric getting ironed

sewing with knits

sewing with knits

  • • Use a serger if possible. Or, sew with a zigzag or stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine.
  • • Use a ball point needle.
  • • Use a walking foot to help keep hems from stretching while sewing.
  • • Choose location thoughtfully when handsewing embellishments on knits. Be sure to allow stretch in hems and neckline.
  • • Don’t pull stitches tight. Allow a little room for stretch.
  • • Test on scrap fabric before beginning.


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sewing with sweater knits

sewing with sweater knits

  • • The term sweater knits describe fabrics used to sew sweaters that resemble hand knit or crocheted fabrics.
  • • Sweater knit fabrics are one of the harder knit fabrics to work with, as they are more prone to unraveling because of their looser fabric structure.
  • • Cut extra seam allowance to support the fabric and prevent the fabric from growing or unraveling.
  • • Use pattern weights and a rotary cutter to keep fabric in place while cutting. Avoid using scissors, which can cause distortion.
  • • Finish raw edges with a serger or faux overlock sewing machine stitch.
  • • Use a ballpoint needle: 70/11 for fine knits and an 80/12 for heavier knits.
  • • Reinforce seams that are prone to stress, such as shoulders, by sewing in clear elastic to prevent stretching or misshaping.
  • • Use a walking foot or lower the tension of the presser foot.
  • • Use a stretch stitch, zigzag stitch, double needle stitch or a standard serger stitch.


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3 ways to hem knit fabric

When hemming knit fabrics, it’s good to use stabilizer to set your hem to keep the fabric from rolling or stretching. Stabilizing tape, fusible web tape or even a simple glue stick can do the trick. Then, stitch with a setting that willl allow the seam to stretch the fabric
sewing machine sewing blue fabric with a zigzag stitch
zigzag stitch

zigzag stitch

sewing machine sewing blue fabric with a zigzag stitch
sewing machine sewing blue fabric with a stretch stitch
stretch stitch

stretch stitch

sewing machine sewing blue fabric with a stretch stitch
sewing machine sewing blue fabric with a double stitch
double needle

double needle

sewing machine sewing blue fabric with a double stitch

sewing with denim

sewing with denim

  • • Prewash to help soften fabric and make it easier to work with.
  • • Sharp bent handled dressmaker’s shears or rotary cutter will make it easier to cut pattern pieces. Consider cutting only one layer of fabric at a time to ensure accurate cuts.
  • • Use a jeans needle. For lighter denim, use size 90/14. For heavier denim, use 100/16 or 100/18.
  • • Use a longer stitch length. For heavyweight denim, lengthen stitches to about 3 millimeters
  • • Use a heavier weight thread, such as topstitching or upholstery thread, to topstitch seams to provide extra support for the right side. Use a regular all-purpose thread in the bobbin.
  • • Give your denim a professional finish with a flat-felled seam.
  • • Reduce bulk by separating and pressing open seam allowances.
  • • Consider investing in a jeans presser foot, if available for your machine, a walking foot or a Teflon foot.
  • • Use the zigzag stitch over the cut edge on interior seams to keep fraying in check.
  • • Press seams using a hot iron and plenty of steam.


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sewing with performance fabric

sewing with performance fabric

  • • Select a simple pattern with few detailed parts.
  • • Prewash fabric on machine wash cold and tumble dry low settings.
  • • When pinning a pattern on the fabric, pin in the seam allowances to avoid damaging the fabric.
  • • Use a stretch sewing machine needle.
  • • Sew a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch with a width of 1 ½ and a length of 2 ½ to 3 on the sewing machine.
  • • Apply normal pressure on the presser foot or slightly more if stitches are skipping.
  • • Use a cool iron to avoid fabric damage.
  • • The fabric does not ravel so there is no need to finish the edges.



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sewing with fleece

sewing with fleece

  • • Lighten the foot pressure to accommodate the fabric thickness, if possible.
  • • Use a universal or stretch sewing machine needle in size 80/12
  • • Use polyester thread as it is strong and has some give for the stretchy fabric.
  • • Sew 7 to 9 stitches per inch or a stitch length of 3 to 3.5 millimeter.



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what's the difference between fleece fabrics?

Your choice in fleece depends on your project. If you’re making multiple gifts for charity, Blizzard is more affordable and should be perfect. If you’re making a blanket that will be a treasured gift, you’ll probably want to use Luxe fleece.
hands feeling white luxe fabric


  • • Super thick
  • • Super soft



hands feeling white luxe fabric
hands holding white anti-pill fabric


  • • Stays new-looking wash after wash
  • • High loft



hands holding white anti-pill fabric
hand holding white blizzard fabric


  • • Easy to work with
  • • Affordable



hand holding white blizzard fabric
sewing with faux leather

sewing with faux leather

  • • Sewing with faux leather takes precision. Practice stitching on a scrap of the leather before sewing the actual garment or accessory.
  • • Avoid using pins when cutting out a pattern. Use binder clips, paper clips, hair clips or weights instead. If pins are absolutely necessary, pin only in the seam allowance.
  • • Mark around the pattern on the back of fabric. Cut one layer at a time. Be sure to flip the pattern for right and left side.
  • • Use a rotary cutter or very sharp scissors when cutting fabric.
  • • Use a chisel-tip leather needle. The size of the needle will depend on the thickness of fabric. For thicker fabric, use a size 14 needle or higher.
  • • Use a longer length sewing machine stitch.
  • • Use a heavier thread for added durability.
  • • Loosen thread tension on top and the bobbin so the seam does not pull.
  • • Loosen the foot pressure so the faux leather does not drag when sewing.
  • • Use a walking foot, Teflon foot or roller foot for topstitching.
  • • Topstitching faux leather creates a finished and more authentic look.
  • • Do not back tack. Leave long threads at the beginning and end of seams. Tie in a knot. Glue can also be used to secure the knot.
  • • Interfacing can be put in place by using a spray adhesive. Always read manufacturer’s instructions and test a swatch first.
  • • After sewing seams, a double-sided tape or rubber cement can be used on the inside to hold seam allowances open. Use a roller to press seams down.
  • • Test iron setting on a scrap to avoid scorching or melting. In general, use a cool iron and press on the wrong side with a pressing cloth.



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sewing with faux fur

sewing with faux fur

  • • Select a pattern specifically designed for fur when possible. Otherwise, look for a pattern that has a simple shape with few seams, darts, gathers or pleats.
  • • Faux fur has nap, the direction the fur falls, similar to the way fur is on an animal. The nap typically goes downward.
  • • Once the nap is determined, trace the pattern on the wrong side of the fur.
  • • Use tailor’s chalk or a chalk wheel to mark around the pattern pieces.
  • • Make sure the nap goes in the same direction on all pieces. In other words, the nap shouldn’t go upward on one sleeve and downward on the other.
  • • Add at least a ½” seam allowance.
  • • If making a garment with a collar, use fur on only the top side of the collar. Use another fabric, such as a lining fabric, on the underside. Two layers of fur would be too bulky at the collar.
  • • Cut only through the backing, not the fur itself.
  • • Cut only a single layer of fur at a time. Be sure to mirror image and make two of any pattern pieces that would generally be cut in double for other fabric.
  • • A sharp craft knife or single edge razor blade works best for cutting just the back, not the fur. If using scissors, try to keep the fur parted and cut as closely to the backing as you can.
  • • Shake the fur out to remove any loose pieces to minimize the mess when working with it.
  • • Facings should not be used in fur as they will make it too bulky. If possible, eliminate the facing and bind the edge.
  • • Long straight pins work well in the fur to secure pieces in place.
  • • Fur tends to move when sewing, so hand basting the pieces together is necessary, especially on large pieces.
  • • Use a universal needle in the machine and a longer stitch length.
  • • Use a walking foot to help prevent layers from shifting.
  • • Direct the fur caught in the seam allowances toward the middle of the project.
  • • After sewing, use a small crochet hook or knitting needle on the right side of the fabric to pull out fur that got caught in the seams.



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sewing with lace

sewing with lace

  • • Gently prewash lace fabric in soapy water, rinse and air dry. If the lace has lost much of its stiffness, use spray starch and iron on low to medium-heat with a press cloth.
  • • When laying out the fabric to cut, check to see if it has obvious right and wrong sides. If it does have a right side, mark that side lightly with a water erasable marker where the pattern pieces will be pinned.
  • • There may not be a grain line in the fabric, but it is important to pay attention to the design of the lace. Place the pattern pieces to take advantage of the design.
  • • If possible, fold the lace fabric to cut out both right and left sides of the garment at the same time (the same way you would with woven fabric). Often, the lace fabric will shift making it difficult to keep the pieces lined up. In that case, cut out the pattern one side at a time.
  • • When sewing with lace, use a zigzag stitch to ensure the lace is secured to its adjoined fabric with every stitch.
  • • When you need darts on a lace garment, first sew them into the lining, underlining and fabric under lace. Then, pin or baste lace to the dart in the underneath layer, trim around the lace motif (will extend over into bodice lace) and shape the remaining lace motif together to lay over the dart. Trim any excess lace and hand or machine stitch to bodice.



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sewing sequins

sewing sequins

There are two types of sequin fabrics: Type A are sewn on and Type B are glued on, such as Confetti Dot. GENERAL TIPS FOR SEWING SEQUINED FABRIC

  • • Use a dedicated pair of sharp scissors for cutting sequin fabrics.
  • • Choose a simple pattern design without darts and with few pieces. The focus of the garment should be on the fabric, not on complicated design lines.
  • • Choose a different fabric for sleeves, such as chiffon or organza, as sequins may catch on the body of the garment.
  • • Cut the garment with the wrong side facing up. Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric, being careful to insert pins between the sequins.
  • • Adjust the stitch length on the sewing machine to 10 stitches per inch. Use longer stitch length for stronger seams. Sew the fabric using a straight stitch.
  • • Finger press open seams on the fabric.
  • • Do not iron.
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sewing with tulle

sewing with tulle

• Tulle comes in 54” or 108” widths.

• Cut tulle with a rotary cutter, ruler and mat.

• Cut tulle while still folded from the bolt for easy straight edges.

• Use pattern weights when cutting to keep this lightweight fabric from shifting.

• Pin the tulle to plain tissue paper before cutting to better control it. Simply pull the tissue paper away when finished.

• When sewing a seam, stabilize the seam area with a layer of tissue paper. Tear away when finished.

• Sew with a short straight stitch.

• Use a thin needle such as a size 70.

• Stitch slowly to avoid puckering or gathering the fabric.

• To prevent the tulle from catching on the machine foot, use a roller foot or place tape on the bottom of the foot.

• Use a cotton-covered thread rather than all polyester to avoid excess static.

• Tulle will not unravel, so there is no need to finish the edges.

• Use a cool iron and press cloth over the tulle.

• If static electricity is causing the tulle to stick together, spray with anti-static spray



sewing with satin

sewing with satin

Satin is shiny fabric with wonderful drape that is perfect for special occasion outfits. Cut this slippery fabric one layer at a time and reduce stitch tension to prevent puckering and fraying.
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sewing with organza

sewing with organza

Organza is sheer fabric used for special occasion clothing & home decor. Cutting is easier with a rotary cutter & fabric weights. Prevent raveling with french seams.
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