I have just started developing a new act with the help of BB Le Buff's School of Performance and have therefore been busily ordering and planning and training but, until recently, had done very little sewing. I started my first costume piece on the weekend - a pair of tulle tap pants! Sewing with tulle is not fun but I have discovered 3 tricks that make sewing with it sew much easier!
Sewing machine pressure dial
This is one of the parts of my machine I never paid attention to/understood what it was for. This dial actually controls how hard the presser foot presses down on the fabric. On my machine (a Janome My Excel 18W) the dial is on the top of the machine (number 11 below) and is set to 3 as a default.
Setting 3 is for regular sewing. When sewing fine fabrics you can change the setting to 1 to reduce the pressure on the fabric and prevent feeding issues. You can also use this for when you are sewing stretch fabrics and bulky layers that you have trouble fitting under the foot.
The Walking Foot
Yeah, I'm probably not going to shut up about this anytime soon. The walking foot, AKA my favourite foot, AKA the even feed foot, will help with feeding issues when sewing tulle and other fine fabrics. The walking foot has feed dogs which work with the feed dogs on your machine to ensure the fabric is feed though smoothly. This foot is also essential for sewing with stretch fabrics as well as for pattern matching. This foot is a little pricey, but is so so so so worth it and will help you with so many different fabrics and applications.
Pin curl clips to avoid slips
This is the real reason I am writing this post. Pinning tulle is next to impossible. The pins will slide out so easily and excerise becomes quite pointless and annoying. I had seen on a sewing blog somewhere someone using plastic clips instead of pins on their fabric, and I happened to have a couple of pin curl clips on my table that I had used for pastie making (I use them to hold the pastie at the overlap while the glue dries) so I decided to try using to pin together 2 pieces of tulle. Well it worked so well I actually feel excited about it. Not only do the pin curl clips securely hold the fabric they also have the added bonus of adding weight to the fabric which helps when you're trying to work on very light fabrics on an extremely windy day!
The clips hold the fabric much more securely than pins and reduce the slipping that you can get when you are sewing 2 layers of fine fabric together (something that can be further reduced using tips 1 and 2). They are easy to remove as you sew and gather up when you're finished. Plus most of us burly girls are bound to have some laying around the house.
They are also very easy to re-position . In the last photo I had pinned the bottom of my tap pant legs so that they were secure while I marked and trimmed them to make them shorter. I was then able to place the off cut from one leg, with the clips still attached, on to the other pant leg and easily move the clips on the under layer to clip the top layer as well to give me a guide for cutting. This is because the hinge point of the clip extends past the edge of the fabric. So instead of lifting the fabric to get to the pins you can just un-clip and re-clip with no issues!
This is a bit of a quick post but will hopefully save you a lot of time and heartache when you next sew with tulle of any other similar fabric. I look forward to showing you what I've been up to so stay tuned!