Satin – with its gorgeous drape, its silky touch, and its glossy finish, it’s a dream of a fabric. Until you come to work with it. At which point, it can quickly turn from a dream to a nightmare. Not only is sewing with satin a steep learning curve, but even the simple act of taking scissors to it can also be fraught with danger. Cut at the wrong angle or with a less than sharp blade, and you’re liable to end up with a frayed, snagged mess.
Fortunately, there are way’s around the problem. Get to grips with the proper cutting technique (stay tuned for more on that in our next section) and the right hemming method, and you can forget about any risk of fraying for good.
Satin is renowned for many things, not least its unsettling habit of fraying like billy-o when it’s cut. But it’s not inevitable – with a few tricks of the trade, you’ll be able to cut and work with satin without worrying of it, quite literally, coming apart at the seams.
First up, never, ever use a scissors that’s even the tiniest bit blunt. If possible, sharpen the scissors to a crisp before using it. Not only will this reduce any chance of fraying, it’ll also guard against that other common challenge of satin – pulled threads.
But just because your scissors are sharp doesn’t mean you’re home free. If you want to avoid any future unraveling, you’ll need to make sure those seams are properly finished – whether that means pinking them, serging them, or hemming them with some good old-fashioned zigzag stitching.
If you want to stop any fraying, then yes – not only can you hem satin, you’re pretty much obliged to do it… unless, of course, you use an alternative instead.
We’ll look at the why’s and wherefores of hemming in greater detail shortly, but for now, here’s two other ways of dealing with fraying.
Pinking for Fray-Proof Edges - Sew a straight line of stitches along one side of the seam allowance. The stitches should be positioned around ¼ inch from the edge. Trim 1/8 inch off the edge using pinking shears. Press the seam to finish.
Seal the Deal with Liquid Sealant - To stop any unraveling in its tracks, simply apply a small amount of liquid seam sealant along the raw edge of the fabric. Go carefully to avoid it transferring to other parts of the fabric, and be sure to let it dry completely before touching.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of sewing satin, there are a few basics you need to know.
First of all, never use anything but the very sharpest of needles in your arsenal. Micotex needles are the best, but a lightweight standard universal point needle will do. Never be tempted to use regular needles, especially if you’re working on a very thin satin, otherwise, you risk snagging the fabric.
Second, make sure to choose an appropriate thread. Cotton wrapped polyester works well, as does extra-fine, mercerized cotton, and 100% polyester long staple thread.
Hemming satin by hand may be tricky, but it’s by no means impossible. Hand-rolled hems often work best on satin, giving a lovely finish that’s well worth the effort.
If you’re planning to use your sewing matching to sew satin, a zigzag stitch will be your best option. Not only will it secure your hem, but it’s also lightweight and won’t create any ugly stitch marks on the visible side of the garment.
There’s no getting around the fact that sewing satin is a challenge. Considering even the most experienced home-seamstress can quake at the thought of working with this notoriously difficult fabric, it’s understandable why those who struggle to find their way around a needle would prefer to do just about anything else. Fortunately, hemming satin needn’t involve you sewing a single stitch… not if you don’t want to in any case.
Hemming tape makes the process of hemming a piece of cake. All you’ll need is a roll of hemming tape, an iron, and a steady hand.
This method is a breeze – just be careful not to get the glue anywhere it shouldn’t be.
Got a pair of satin pants you need to hem? Here’s what you need to do.
Stopping a satin ribbon from fraying can sometimes feel on par with stopping the tide from turning. Within seconds of cutting a length, it’s already starting to unravel. The problem is, satin really enjoys fraying. It’s in its nature. if you want to keep your ribbon looking pristine, you’re going to have to find a way of fighting against the fabric’s base instincts. Fortunately, it’s not actually that difficult. Providing you have the right pair of scissors, that is….
Satin ribbons can look lovely… when they’re not fraying, that is. If you want to keep your ribbons looking respectable, try this simple hemming method – it’s designed to fix the problem after a small amount of fraying has already started, but works equally well as a preventative measure.
If you want to hem a satin skirt, you’ve got a few options. We’ve already looked at how you can hem a garment with hem tape or fabric glue, but the other viable options include:
Serging - If you’ve got a serger, you’ll find hemming a skirt a piece of cake. Simple serge along the unfished hem, making sure to shave a few threads as you go to give a clean looking edge.
Sewing - If you’re sewing with a gorgeous fabric like satin, the last thing you want to do is make any unsightly ridges in the hem. Using a three-step zig-zag stitch (i.e. one that sews three little zig zags with each stitch) is a great option.
Satin dresses may look heavenly, but as any seamstress knows, they’re the devil to work with. While you can’t make the process of hemming a satin dress a delight, you can make it a lot less challenging with this simple method.