Thursday, April 26, 2012

The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric [Part 5: 'Other' Fabrics I Love; Q&A]

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I have enjoyed working on this fabric 'road map' I call "The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric"; I hope you have been able to learn enough about quilting cottons to get you started on your sewing journey with a bit more confidence.

Is this your first time seeing The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric, you may want to start here to see what it's all about: [Looking for Fabric 101? You've Got It]

[Part 5: "Other" Fabric, Q & A]

Since I have based this Fabric Guide largely on quilting cottons (my favorite), I thought it would be a great time to share some of the "other" types of fabric I enjoy sewing with, as well as some tips for difficult fabrics that I have learned along the way.

{Home Decor Fabric}

'Home dec' fabric is a pretty broad term in my world, seriously.  When I hear "Home Dec" Fabric" I think anything from Dupioni Silk to Cotton Duck Canvas to Jaquard... Yikes!

My favorite "Home Decor" fabrics are Linen, Cotton Canvas (including duck), and Cotton Sateen.

I have used all of these fabric in handbags and have to say they are pretty simple, with the exception of Linen being a little slinky to cut... but, it makes for some beautiful totes!

Tip: Use Linen to add shabby chic accents to items by fraying the raw edges.

Cotton Duck is great for bags that are going to get a lot of use, i.e. Messenger bags, diaper bags, overnight, etc.  I like adding prints to the mix to freshen things up a bit.

Custom Diaper Bag & Custom Messenger Purse

Cotton Sateen is great for adding body and durability... here is my most recent use of Cotton Sateen: 

Another fun material to work with is Cotton Laminate, this is quilting cotton that has a laminate overlay, so it can be wiped clean, is great for raincoats, placemats, table coverings... etc.

Here is a great link to Pink Chalk Studio's post about Working with Cotton Laminates

Here is my first major use of working with laminate, lining a diaper bag:

Tip: A Teflon foot is recommended for sewing laminate so that things move smoothly without getting caught up under the needle.  Fact: I do not have a Teflon foot.  Fact: Tear-away embroidery stabilizer works wonders for sewing over Laminates AND Vinyl.  Also, I've been known to stick some masking tape on my foot and presser plate to help things along... though the tear-away has worked the best thus far.

I could go on and on about fabrics and tips, but for now I'm going to wrap up this series with a little Q & A.  I posted on twitter a few days ago and was happy to receive some Questions as well as a comment on the blog the other day:

Q: What is the best stabilizer to stiffen my bags (stand up on own)?

A:  There are a few options here, my preference is to use fusible fleece for the lining fabric and a heavy weight sew-in for the interlining.  This is what helps to give bags like SoChick Savannah Tote a tailored look.  

Another option is to use Craft Fuse, which is a heavy weight fusible interfacing.  I tend to use this only for smaller items, as I'm not thrilled with how it bonds to fabric.  

Finally, Pellon makes a very heavy-duty stabilizer called Peltex.  This comes in a sew-in, single sided fusible, and double sided fusible.  This adds serious strength and shape to bags, it's important to trim within the seam allowance when using this product to save your needles and reduce bulk in your seams.

Q: How do I best reinforce the area under magnetic snap closures?

A:  It took some time for me to figure this one out, as I don't like to also feel the back of the magnetic tab through my bag.  Typically I will cut a square of fusible interfacing to put on the wrong side of my fabric, where I plan on applying the snap.  If I am using a heavier weight fabric without interfacing, I will double-up on the fusible squares for extra reinforcement.  Often, I will cut an additional square of heavy-weight sew in to put behind the snap, before applying the metal backing.  I find that this gives my snap a little something to "hold on to" and doesn't stress the fabric.

Q: How much fabric should I expect to use in making a handbag?

A:  Of course, this will vary depending on the size bag you are making and it's style, but I have found that, generally, you can get away with purchasing 3/4 - 1 yard of fabric to make a medium sized handbag.  In Part 3 of this Fabric Guide, I mention using Fat Quarters... I use three Fat Quarters to make my Daisy Handbag.  Those FQ's cover the Exterior, Lining and Accents; this is great if you tend to snatch up smaller cuts of fabric for your stash.  There are a lot of bags out there that work with FQ's.

Q: Any tips on sewing with knits?

A:  I'm not super experienced in garment sewing, but I have some experience with using knits for projects.  My number one tip is to be sure you are using a ball-point needle.  This allows your needle to pass through the knit of the fabric without piercing it and creating holes.  Another fact about knits is that they don't fray. This is nice for items, like the ruffle scarves I make, where you leave a raw edge, because the raw edge tends to curl into itself.  Yay. 

Ball-point needles also come in handy for sewing heavy-weight fabrics... it's true!  I use a ball-point needle when I  am working with canvas bags, again, since the ball-point doesn't pierce the fabric, it finds it's way through the weave of the fabric, which saves from broken needles!

Thanks so much for your feedback!  I am always open to answering questions to help you with your sewing adventures!  A lot of skills are learned through trial and error, and you may find that what works for others doesn't always work for you.

Happy Sewing!

XxOo~ Melissa

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