I always try to think outside the box when it comes to choosing fabric for a project. Finding the perfect fabric is part of what makes sewing exciting, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m able to work something unexpected into a project.
Hobby Apron designed by Erin Harris.
One great idea when thinking about fabric is to consider using home décor fabrics. I think many people (myself included!) don’t often think of these fabrics when starting a new project. The heavy weight, wide fabric widths, and intimidating giant fabric bolts at the back of the fabric store can be a bit intimidating and sometimes keeps these fabrics from living up to their true potential.
There’s been a huge increase in the amount of exciting prints and patterns available in home décor-weight fabric, so now is the perfect time to take a fresh look at heavier-weight fabrics. Who says they have to be used only for drapes and upholstery! The newest batch of ePatterns in the Sew Daily shop features some projects just waiting to take advantages of the great home décor fabrics currently on the market.
Rebecca Kemp Brent wrote a great piece in the Fall 2010 issue of Stitch about working with heavyweight fabrics. If you’re new to sewing with home décor fabric (or you just need a refresher), check out these hints and tips before you start your next project:
– Check the fabric care recommendations. Many upholstery fabrics are not washable because of their fiber content or construction.
– Some fabrics labeled “dry clean only” can be washed if a change in texture is acceptable; for example, a fabric may lose its stiffness when laundered. If uncertain, wash a fabric swatch as a test.
– Even washable heavyweight fabrics are subject to shrinkage. If a project will be washed after completion, preshrink the yardage before cutting out the fabric.
– Choose a large needle size to carry the thread through the fabric, especially in hems or where seam allowances stack up. Size 100/16 and 110/18 needles with a sharp point (including jeans or denim needles) work with most heavy fabrics; for materials at the lighter-weight end of the spectrum, try a size 90/14 needle. Topstitch needles accommodate heavy threads well and are great for decorative stitching and trim on heavy fabrics.
– Standard all-purpose polyester thread can be used to sew seams in heavyweight fabrics; however, if the seam will be subjected to stress, a heavy or an upholstery thread will make the seam more secure.
– Support heavy fabric around the sewing machine to prevent drag while sewing. An extension table at the height of the machine bed is perfect, but a card table placed alongside the machine will also work well.
– If the fabric stiffness makes pressing seams or creasing hems difficult, use topstitching to hold the seams and folds in place.
– When a variety of home décor fabrics is needed for patchwork, inquire at fabric stores and decorating businesses about the availability of outdated fabric-swatch books.
Keep these tips in mind and check out the newest ePattern additions to the Sew Daily pattern store. In addition to great garments, accessories, and items for the home, there are several projects designed especially to get you sewing with home décor fabrics!