Monday, February 8, 2010

Rain, rain, go away! ~ "Sewing on Laminated Fabrics"

               It has been raining and raining, but its OK because I have been locked away in my studio learning how to sew on laminated fabric! I just closed the shades and turn on ALL the lights!!! 

              My education began as most do, I "googled"  ~how to sew on laminated fabrics~ . Much to my surprise there was not a lot to be found. Just basic little tidbits. So, I thought, well, here goes! I only have about 100 ids of this stuff to sell, so I better become an "expert" on the subject. 

 .    .   .   .    .I don't think that I have become this expert; however, after spending three solid days sewing with it and experimenting
on it, I surely do know a lot more now than I did! As you will see from the adorable little raincoat to the left here, I did conquer this fabric! Of course, this is going to be a brand new kit. And, what made me think of a raincoat ~ all the rain that we have been experiencing? Actually it is because I will traveling up to Seattle in a couple of weeks for the gigantic Sewing Expo in Puyallup. And, everyone knows how much it rains up there!

 So, here goes. I want to share with you what I have learned.

To begin with, if you have folded up this fabric to bring it home, it is going to have creases that need to be eliminated. Here is what I found:
  They say DO NOT PRESS this fabric! Well, of course, I am no dummy. You cannot iron plastic! But, I found that I could as long as I pressed the fabric from the back ~  by misting with water and using a pressing cloth, it worked!

I also found out that you can hang the fabric up in a warm room for a few hours (or lay it flat on the dining room table on a sunny day, it flattened out appreciably.   Or, here is another little trick - Use a hair dryer on the wrinkles ~ not touching it of course! I thought about putting the fabric in the clothes dryer, but I knew better. I would probably forget about it and "plastic coat" the inside of my dryer! Best for me, not to entertain this experiment!
      So, what about cutting out?  Pin your pattern pieces to the fabric sparingly and ONLY 1/4” in from the edges. In other words, only pin inside the seam allowances. Pins will leave holes if left pinned for very long.
      And, Keep it simple! Do not pick a pattern that calls for a lining or lots and lots of pieces! If it does have a lining, just eliminate it as I did for this little coat. It is very difficult, if not impossible to "turn" pieces so just sew them flat.

       Sewing was not nearly as bad as I have made it out to be "in my head"! It was actually easy! Oh my goodness, did I just say easy??? Well, after you have had as many learning experiences as I did, you do get the problems worked out. So, lets just say that I did the work for you. 
       Use a #12 Sharp needle and regular polyester sewing thread - like Guttermann or Metroscene. Also, I used a teflon coated foot for all the sewing and it worked beautifully! I also read that you can tape "painter’s tape" -its blue- to bottom of your all purpose foot.
       A couple of more helpful ideas, use a pressing tool. Mine is wooden. It sort of looks like the blade part of a knife except it is thicker. And, my favorite little sewing "weapon" was. . . tada . . . Wonder Tape!  Try not to pin your pieces together as you sew. If you absolutely must pin - and there are instances where it is necessary - then pin inside the seam allowance; position the pins vertically rather than horizontally, OR use the wonder tape!
       For sewing all of my seams, used  a stitch length of 2.5 Do not serge seams; just “pink” them or do nothing. They are not going to ravel after all. And, Ironing? :Basically, do NOT iron laminated fabric. it is best to use that pressing tool like the one to your right or "finger press" you seams. 
         I used the triple stitch; the one that goes 2 stitches forward and then one back and so on and so on for all of my topstitching. It is the stitch that you would use to stabilize a crotch seam. This took more time than using a regular straight stitch, but the end result was so professional (i.e. -pretty!) Be sure and “hold” on to your fabric with a little more pressure than usual as you topstitch to keep it stitching perfectly straight. The laminated fabrics want to slide a little.
        Since laminated fabrics are “thicker” than normal, line the pockets with regular cotton; not another layer of the laminated fabric. In order to make the button tabs ~that you see on the raincoat above~ perfectly, one side is the laminated fabric, the other, cotton. Do not sew these together in the traditional way. Here is my best advise now. First, starch the cotton tabs and press them to make them “crisp”. Fold in the three sides that are to be “sewn” - 1/2” and press well. Next, using a double sided fusible type of tape (like Wonder tape), fold the the three sides that are to be “sewn” on the laminated fabric and stick them down with the double sided tape. “Press” well with your fingers. Lay down another layer of the same kind of tape on top of the laminated button tab. Now lay the laminated tab on top of the cotton tab and “press” well with your fingers. If you cut them out precisely and measured in exactly 1/2” to fold your seams in, they should meet perfectly. Topstitch them together. Repeat for all  6  button tabs. For the button holes, definitely make a few test ones!
After much testing, I found that the very best buttonhole that I came up with was when I did not use my buttonhole foot or the automatic buttonhole “button” on my machine. I sewed two adjacent rows of satin stitches (using my “zig zag” stitch). They were the length of my button + 3/8” and only about 1/16” apart. Then on the ends of each of these two rows, I “closed” the buttonhole by sewing a satin stitch (twice the width of each of the satin stitches “bars” of the buttonhole) and only 1/8” in length. Perhaps your machine will make a better automatic buttonhole than mine. My concern was that the buttonhole foot was not able to “hold” the fabric steady enough to make a perfect buttonhole. There seemed to be too much “play”. 

Both of the fabrics that I used are from Michael Miller and are sooooo pretty. The one to your left is the Cocoa Dumb Dot and the print is Carnival Bloom. So, you might ask if the coat above is all that I made? Of course not! I also made a raincoat for me! And, it is destined to be a kit as well.  We are waiting to get the buttons in stock to complete the kits. I used a very simple pattern from Indygo Junction, The Trench Topper. I'll post a picture of it when the buttons arrive. 
And, now I am working on a shopping tote. It will be very simple and quite useful - especially since I am traveling to rainy Washington so soon! 
      So, I encourage you to SEW with this laminated fabric. I did get some cool results. Feel free to send me your questions!


  1. Great! This means I can just put away all the projects I have planned for March and get ready for this sweet project to learn? :) Good job as always - glad you take one for the team!!

  2. Thanks, Mona! I hope that you are playing in the snow today!

  3. Thank you sew much for adding these wonderful tidbits. I was stuck for a moment. BTW the painters tape works very well. And I did change my thread, made the difference. How kind of you to share. my best