Satin dressmaking – steps for sewing success

Whether you are an experienced dressmaker or are relatively new to the world of dressmaking we’ll talk you through how to sew with satin. The shiny and slippery surface of satin makes it one of the most difficult fabrics to manipulate, but in this article, we talk you through how you can tame satin and use it to create the perfect dress.

Duchess satin – this is a versatile, heavyweight and low-lustre fabric that is popular for creating evening wear, bridal and bridesmaid dresses and prom dresses.

Step 1 – Cutting
The first step when using satin for dressmaking is to cut out your pattern. Because of the slippery and shiny nature of satin, this can be extremely difficult to do accurately. There are however some simple tips that will help make your job easier.
  • When using lightweight satin such as charmeuse starching the fabric will help to make it stiffer and sturdier and ready to cut. This technique should only be used for polyester satin and make sure you test a piece of fabric first
  • Where possible use a rotary cutter for satin as this means that you will not need to move the fabric around during cutting
  • When cutting satin with scissors make sure you sharpen them first and use long cutting strokes to help avoid snagging the fabric
  • Make sure that all satin pieces are the same way up as the shine will vary based on the direction

Step 2 – Ironing and pressing
Satin and ironing don’t mix particularly well, that’s why it’s important to make sure you use a pressing cloth. A pressing cloth is placed over the satin and acts as a barrier to ensure that the sheen of the satin below is not ruined. Make sure that you don’t press too hard on seam allowances as these could show through the fabric.

Keep your iron on a very low setting as, even when using a pressing cloth, polyester satin will melt if overheated and you don’t want to ruin your fabric. This is why you should always use a scrap piece as a test and check for damage while pressing before working on your main fabric.

Step 3 – Sewing
With your fabric perfectly cut and ironed it’s now time to sew the pieces together. Make sure that you have the right pins and needles for the job with silk pins and needles recommended as they will help to keep your satin snag and run free. Thread quality is also important when it comes to working with satin. You want the best quality thread you can find, so something along the lines of Gutterman. At Parkin Fabrics, we stock a deluxe sewing kit, which should provide you with a lot of the important scissors and needles to help you're work.


Sewing thread

Step 4 – Finishing
Neatly finished hems and seams are the sign of good dressmaking and will help to ensure that your finished garment is the best it can be. Here are some tips to help you neatly finish your hems and seams off:
  • With its tendency to fray easily finishing seam allowances can be tricky when using satin. For reasonably heavy weight fabrics such as Duchess satin serging, pinking and zigzag stitch can all be used. Lighter weight fabrics should either use fray check or pinking.
  • French seams are the perfect way to finish satin seams because of the risk of fraying. They may be a little more time consuming but offer beautiful results.
  • Narrow rolled hems are the ideal choice for satin as they provide a nice clean finish. Whether done by hand with a narrow hem foot or using various methods on a sewing machine.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to sewing with satin.

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