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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode 31 / Working with Challenging Fabrics

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

On Episode 31 of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock share tips for working with challenging fabrics (air date, Wednesday, January 8, 2020). You can listen to the podcast here: Episode 31: Working with Challenging Fabrics

There are a lot of fabrics that can be challenging and for many different reasons. From velvet and linen, to sheer and blackout... not all fabrics are ready to roll out, cut, iron and sew. It’s not just the challenge of the type of fabric. It’s the challenge of getting fabrics to perform for a specific project. One fabric might work great for a roman shade, and then be difficult for a valance or drapery. It’s very helpful if you can see and feel a fabric memo. Even then – there are still a lot of unknowns.

Working With Linen

Linen is a big challenge for a lot of workrooms. It’s not always stable, can shrink or stretch, and it wrinkles. For linen, or ANY fabric that comes into the workroom, you should roll it out and see how it drapes. Test the hand. There are many different linens… from stiff and textured to limp as a washed dish towel. Test to see what happens when you use heat and steam.

What you are making can be a big part of the decision for how you will manipulate the fabric. If it’s soft and stretchy linen and you are making a roman shade, or pillows, Susan suggests adding a fusible lining or stabilizer. Adding a fusible product as a backing will stabilize the linen and help to prevent it from stretching. It will add body so that the shade folds neatly. Recommended products: Fusible stabilizer from Rowley Company, which is a soft, polyester material that you iron on the fabric, and the iron-on lining from dofix No Sew, Inc, which is a thin, woven fabric with adhesive on one side.

Some workrooms hang cuts of linen in the workroom so it can shrink or stretch before sewing. Not all workrooms have the space to do this - so it's not a widespread practice. Even if the fabric is allowed to hang first, the home environment can still change the material after it is installed.