Novelty fabrics like painted, metallic, or heavily embroidered fabric can add great pizzaz to your sewing projects, but they can be quite challenging to work with. I’m currently working on a coat with the painted fabric whose scraps I used for my Radial Purse. Here, I’ve assembled a few hints for working with these fabrics to help you make your perfect final product.
1) Change your needle often during your project. Sewing through novelty fabrics can rapidly dull your needle and dull needles can cause a variety of problems from skipped stitches to snagged fabric.
2) Test wash your fabric. Since the embellishments can have different washing needs than the fabric, set aside several different scraps and run them through different wash treatments to ensure that both fabric and embellishment can withstand the wash settings.
3) Use a press cloth when ironing. Some people swear by silk organza press cloths, others love cotton muslin. Either way, keep a press cloth between your iron and fabric to prevent melting the paint or metallic threads onto your iron.
4) Use a special sewing machine foot. Different fabrics will be best suited to different feet, but consider using a teflon foot or a roller foot so that your machine foot doesn’t stick to or snag on your fabric.
5) Check your fabric for flaws before cutting. Although this is a good general principle, heavily embellished fabrics are more likely to have manufacturing defects than normal fabrics and it’s a major bummer to discover smudged paint or a puckered embroidery in the center front of your finished jacket.
6) Sew over tissue paper or tearable seam stabilizer. Sewing with a bottom layer of tissue paper or tearable steam stabilizer can prevent embroidery or metallic threads from snagging on your feed dogs.
7) Test buttonholes and topstitching. The embellished fabric may cause occasional skipped or uneven stitches which aren’t noticeable in a seam but are quite frustrating and noticeable in topstitching. If you have problems with skipping stitches on your embellished fabric, consider not topstitching and/or an alternative to buttonholes like snaps or clasps.