“Listening to Fabric”

No matter what type of sewing is on your project list, “listening” to what your fabric needs is very important.  If you are a quilter you probably work mostly with cottons but what happens if you decide to work with silk dupioni or flannel?  If you are creating a home décor project are you using upholstery fabric or burlap?  If you are sewing a garment, are you using a stable woven or an unstable knit?  As you sew, no matter what the project, it’s important to take notice of what your fabric needs you to do so it can look its best.  If you pay attention, your fabric will always tell you what it needs.  No one likes to hear “Bless your heart, you made that yourself, didn’t you?”  I have encountered this issue while making, for instance, a crazy patch quilt.  The different fabrics that give the quilt its beauty can also be the very reason you need to pay close attention to what your fabric is telling you.  I recently ran into this very issue while making my vest.  The striped fabric on the front was much lighter in weight than the denim on the back.

Though the front striped fabric and the back denim fabric were both cottons, they were of different weights.

In order to have the front striped fabric drape properly it needed to be stabilized, but if I interfaced the front and also interfaced the facing pieces, I knew it would all get too stiff.  Solution:  increase the width of the facing pieces and interface only them so they would support the front and back equally as they went around the inside of the garment.  Issue two came with the hem for the vest.  As with all garment fabrics, I laundered the fabric exactly the way I planned to launder the finished garment.  (I would much rather have the fabric shrink at this stage of construction rather than after the garment has been completed.)  As you can see, my denim had a significant “rolling” problem when it came out of the dryer.

This is how the denim looked straight out of the dryer.

In fact, the fabric still had a rolling problem even after it had been pressed.

Even after pressing with significant steam, the denim had a tendency to roll to the right side of the fabric.

This means that after the garment is complete, every time I sit in the car or in a chair with a back on it, chances are the hem of my vest will roll.  Not cool!  My solution:  cut a 1 ¾” piece of tricot knit interfacing and fuse it to the 2” hem allowance (cutting it a little narrower than the actual hem ensures it won’t be seen on the front of the garment).

I cut 1 3/4″ wide fusible tricot strips to fuse to the hem of the vest.
I find that using fusible knit tricot adds stability to the fabric without adding stiffness. The fabric will drape well and will move with the body.

With the fabric now stabilized on the front and back of the vest, the hem looks uniform and should I sit while wearing the vest, I should not experience any rolling of the back hem.

Interfacing fused to the back of the vest at the hemline.
Interfacing strip fused to the hemline on the front of the vest.

The interfacing along the hem also gave the fabric more support while I used the blind hem stitch for a more professional looking hem.

Here is the finished garment: from the back…..
…and from the front.