Satin is known for its beautiful drape, glossy finish — and steep learning curve. This fabric is notoriously tricky to cut, has a tendency to fray and snag, and never lets you forget your mistakes thanks to those permanent needle holes!
But that doesn’t mean only experts can work with satin. With a few tricks and tips, even a newbie can crush construction with satin , from cutting to sewing to finishing. Now go show this textile who’s boss!
Store It Right
Keep your satin rolled around a cardboard tube or bolt, rather than folded, until you’re ready to use it. You’ll avoid making creases that need to be ironed out later. The heat from an iron can leave shiny marks on satin, so the less you have to press this textile the better.
Start with a Muslin
We get it — you’re dying to dive into that gorgeous satin. But putting the real-deal construction on pause to whip up a test garment in muslin can save you a world of hurt, especially if the construction and/or fit of your garment might prove challenging. Satin and seam rippers do not get along. Any time you rip out a seam in this fabric, you can end up with permanent and unsightly holes.
Sharpen Those Scissors!
Satin is infamous for its tendency to fray, but you can fend off the problem by cutting it with super sharp scissors. Snipping with freshly sharpened shears also heads off another common headache, pulled threads (which can ruin both your garment and your day). Make sure you're using the very best scissors in your arsenal!
Go with — or Against — the Grain
If possible, cut your pattern pieces on the bias; this keeps the fabric from fraying as well as puckering when you stitch. However you cut your pieces, though, be consistent: Like fur, satin has nap to it (if you hold it up to the light, you’ll notice the sheen changes slightly form one angle to the next). If your pieces are cut in different directions, your finished piece can end up looking multi-colored.
Don't Leave Your Mark
When indicating pattern details like darts and arrows, use tailor’s chalk or an air-soluble pen. Satin is susceptible to water staining, so you’ll want to steer clear of any marking tools that require water to remove. Before putting any pen to real fabric, test how easily it will come off on a scrap. And always mark on the wrong side of your fabric.
If you need to use pins at any point, take care to only insert them into the seam allowance area; this will avoid making any stubborn holes in the actual garment.
Hand-Baste Your Seams
Consider hand-basting your seams (especially curved ones) before machine stitching; this will keep your layers from slipping out of alignment as you feed your fabric through the machine.
Satin has a tendency to pull threads with every needle puncture. To avoid this problem, always insert a brand new sharp sewing machine needle before you stitch. Also key: Opt for a short stitch length and hold the fabric taut as you feed it through.
Press with Care
To avoiding staining or marring the finish of your satin, turn off your iron’s steam feature and press on the wrong side of your fabric. You'll also want to place a piece of paper between the edges of your seams and the fabric underneath. If you ever do need to iron on the right side of the fabric, protect it with a pressing cloth.
Finish It Right
You’re on the home stretch, but to keep all those seams from fraying, you’ll need to finish them. Pinking, serging and zigzag stitching are all great options because they’re lightweight and won’t show through on the right side of the garment.
Also consider underlining your garment . This will reduce strain on the seams and give your piece a smooth, professional finish. You’ll look like a sewing wizard — because you are!