Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One-Thread Sewing On Delicate Fabrics: Part Two

When you work with very delicate fabrics, such as silk chiffon, you'll need a few special methods of sewing your fabric to get the best results. Last week I showed you how to thread your machine "backwards" using a drawn-out length of bobbin thread. It's just wonderful for sewing a dart in your sheer fabrics. Here's how to finish the job.

I'm using China silk, or silk habutai, in these photos. I lined my garment with this fabric. The chiffon print I used for the shell just didn't show up that well in photography.

Normally with dart sewing, you start at the widest part of the dart and sew toward the tip, or apex. But with this method of dart sewing, start at the apex instead. My thread is pretty taut. There's only enough slack in it for me to get a very little bit of the fabric — about two threads wide! — under the presser foot. It takes a little bit of fiddling around. (Remember, your bobbin and top threads are one.)

Now, notice two things. One, I've got my stitching line marked very thoroughly. Two, I've got my needle swung over to the left, as far as it will go. (It is such a handy thing to have a sewing machine that has an adjustable needle position.) This keeps those greedy feed dogs from grabbing my delicate fabric and pulling a chunk of it down, down, into my bobbin shuttle and jamming up the machine.

Here's what that looks like. No, the machine was not threaded for one-thread sewing when I took this. I just wanted you to see how my needle is in the left position. If you don't have a presser foot that has a single, tiny hole in it, nor a throat plate with a small hole, you'll have to move your needle over to the left to sew filmy, delicate fabrics. Otherwise, you'll run into trouble with the feed dogs grabbing the fabric and pulling it down into the machine.

Begin sewing your dart now, and don't backstitch. Use a shorter stitch length, such as 2.0. When you get to the end of the dart legs, stop sewing without backstitching and remove your work from the machine, leaving some long thread tails. Tie these tails off in a knot to secure the stitching. That's all there is to it! To sew the next dart in your garment, you must re-thread the machine each time.

This is a bit of an advanced technique that requires a little thought. You will, of course, have practiced sewing on some scrap fabric first. Don't use your actual project to experiment. Get out your sales receipt and remind yourself of how much you spent on your fabric. If that doesn't get you in the mood to practice this technique before marching headlong into the real thing, I don't know what will!


  1. Although it has been quite a while since I used this technique, or sewed chiffon or fine silk for that matter, it is a technique I have used before and think is fabulous. Thank you for reminding me, and for the really excellent tutorial.

  2. With all the silk I've sewn, I've never used this technique and now remember learning about it from Sandra and promising myself that I would use it the next time. I'm planning on using it for the lining of the blue dress - thanks for the great on-line session, Roseana!

  3. Thanks, pals! Both of you!!