Monday, June 26, 2017 Filed in: Fabrics
Sewing Mesh Knits and Laces
True confessions...I don’t do a thing to these fabrics before sewing. If I DID, I’d pre-treat by dipping in warm water and air dry, would NEVER put them in the dryer. After sewing, hand wash and air dry, touch up press.
As shown on the pattern envelope in mesh knits (sold out). This is one of my favorite patterns for a layering piece to wear over a dress, tunic or t-shirt. Solves 'the sleeve problem' for warm days, makes a good coverup for air conditioned rooms and cool evenings too.
Tips for working with meshes and lace
- Make practice tests on scraps so you are familiar with what works best.
- Test for stitch length, needle size, edge finishes, seam finishes, iron temperature (will your iron melt the fabric?), what is the hottest temperature you can use without harming the fabric, how long can you leave the iron on the fabric.
- Sewing on these light fabrics takes a light hand. I do a lot of pfutzing and patting the fabric in place.
- Because these fabrics do not ravel, you can use a combination of raw and finished edges. In the little cardigans shown above and below, the neck edge is raw, while the hems are finished.
Helpful Tools and Notions
- Walking foot
- Teflon sole plate for your iron
- Totally stable stabilizer: this is actually a light weight fusible stabilizer designed for machine embroidery but it works great with mesh/lace and knits if they stretch, distort, bunch up or get sucked down into the throat plate when machine stitching. Matte on one side, satin sheen on the other (this is the fusible side), I do not use the fusible option. I cut 1/2” - 1” strips and keep them at the sewing machine, then slip them in under the presser foot if I encounter any trouble while stitching. It tears away easily.
- Double needle
- Stick-on labels
Cutting and marking
- Mark the right side with stick on labels.
- Mark dots/notches with small clips. These can be hard to see, so I also mark using colored pencils, making just a small dot right at the cut edge...I know it is there so I can see it, and it will be trimmed away once the seam is sewn.
- In the photo below, I've marked notches/dots with a fine line chalker and different color dots for reference.
Seam Finishes & Stitching
- A walking foot makes stitching easy
- I like the look of a narrow seam that hardly shows when the garment is worn
- Stitch the seam and then serge close to the original stitching so the seam is narrow. You could also adjust the width of the serged edge to be narrower. Test first, some meshes/laces are better without the extra bulk of the serged threads
- Or, simply stitch a second line of stitching 1/4” from the first, then trim close to this stitching for a narrow seam that does not roll.
- No seam finish at all is also an option....these fabrics do not ravel.
- Stitch S L O W L Y because there are open areas on these fabrics and the thread could break. I find when I stitch slowly it works much better
- Pressing is really important. Test the heat of your iron to see what works best. Most meshes and laces are a blend of nylon and lycra, and if your iron is too hot they could melt. I use a teflon plate on my iron to prevent this.
- Because the fabrics are synthetics they don’t want to hold a press. I use a clapper a lot to get a firmer crisper edge...for instance on hems. I press, then simply place the wooden clapper on the pressed area and let it cool down. Works like a charm and builds in a memory even if the crease seems to disappear.
- I use an oak tag template made from a manila file folder with lines marked in pencil to get a straight even hem.
In the photo below, the neck edge is deceptively simple and uses raw edges.
The neck band is cut on the cross grain, sleeve band cut on lengthwise grain. Make a practice sample to get the feel for how much tension to apply for your fabric.
- Staystitch the neck edge
- Leave the left shoulder seam open
- Cut bands on the cross grain, 1+ inches wide and 2-3 longer than the neck measurement. This will be trimmed after stitching, but the length make handling things easier.
- Start stitching at the left back neck edge with single layer band on top, wrong side of band to right side of garment.
- Keeping edges of binding and neck even, and using a double needle, stitch 1/2” from the edge, stretching the neckband slightly, with an even tension as you sew. The double needle stitching will conceal the stay stitching below.
- Apply a bit of tension/stretching to the neckband as you stitch.
- It is necessary that the neckband be smaller than the neck itself so it lies flat against the body and prevents stretching.
- The amount of stretch/tension depends on the fabric and takes a bit of practice to get the ‘feel’ for it. Too tight, and puckers may form and the neck can be too small. Too loose and the neck band will stand away from the body.
- Press flat as sewn.
- Trim along the neck line edge if needed
- The lower edge of the band will curl and conceal the topstitching….this is part of the design and depends on your fabric.
- The sleeve band is sewn the same way, only NO stretching the band as it is sewn.
Chic and easy summer layering pieces for everyday and travel: mesh cardi Vogue 8975 layers beautifully over the tops and tunics in Vogue 9057
Katherine's Lace Vest
A lace vest is another practical and fun warm weather garment - the third piece to layer over a top or dress. Katherine used and out of print pattern and our Burnt Russet Lace.
Katherine's sewing tips:
- Trimmed selvedge so that the scallops would go down the front
- Sewed with a walking foot
- Used a French seam in back of neck & lower back diagonal seamline
- Staystitched neck and armcye edges to stabilize
- Trimmed upper back V edge fabric to form scallops and overlapped them on back. Stitched in place twice with a small zig-zag and trimmed excess on the back
- Armcye seam allowances turned back and zig-zagged in place
- Hem folded over and zig-zagged in place
I'm working on a mesh cardi right now. Love to see garments you are making with meshes and lace!