Sewing with Sheers

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Sheers are great for summerwear, but they can also challenge even the most even tempered and experienced sewers. They move around a lot during cutting and sewing, they ravel and it’s difficult to get even seamlines and hems. Here are some helpful hints for taming these challenging fabrics:

  • Choose patterns with minimal seaming and design details. Remember, everything (like darts and fitting seams) shows through the fabric.
  • Layer tissue paper under them when cutting and pin right to the paper. Cut through both layers.
  • Before you remove the paper, transfer pattern markings using a removable marker (test first on a scrap), pins or tailor tacks.
  • Test-stitch on fabric scraps to determine the best seam finishes and sewing techniques, tensions and pressing options.
  • To avoid puckered seams, hold the fabric layers taughtly in front of and behind the presser foot. Don’t stretch the fabric, just hold securely. If necessary for control, stitch through water-soluble stabilizer and remove it later, or spray the fabric layers lightly with temporary spray adhesive to keep them in place.
  • Since all the construction details show through the fabric, make narrow seams–either serged, double-stitched and trimmed, or French seams. For help, see the Guideline on Seam Finishes
  • Use a new, small size needle to avoid snags. A straight stitch presser foot and/or needle plate are also helpful, as the single round hole helps keep the fabric from poking down into the machine’s wider zigzag opening.
  • Let garments hang at least 24 hours before hemming, then trim evenly.

Most of all, be patient with the process and focus on how fabulous your finished garment will be. No fabric should get the best of us!