True confessions...I don’t do a thing to these fabrics before sewing. If I DID, I’d pre-treat by dipping in warm water and air dry, would NEVER put them in the dryer. After sewing, hand wash and air dry, touch up press.
Tips for working with meshes and lace
- Make practice tests on scraps so you are familiar with what works best.
- Test for stitch length, needle size, edge finishes, seam finishes, iron temperature (will your iron melt the fabric?), what is the hottest temperature you can use without harming the fabric, how long can you leave the iron on the fabric.
- Sewing on these light fabrics takes a light hand. I do a lot of pfutzing and patting the fabric in place.
- Because these fabrics do not ravel, you can use a combination of raw and finished edges. In the little cardigans shown above and below, the neck edge is raw, while the hems are finished.
Helpful Tools and Notions
- Walking foot
- Teflon sole plate for your iron
- Totally stable stabilizer: this is actually a light weight fusible stabilizer designed for machine embroidery but it works great with mesh/lace and knits if they stretch, distort, bunch up or get sucked down into the throat plate when machine stitching. Matte on one side, satin sheen on the other (this is the fusible side), I do not use the fusible option. I cut 1/2” - 1” strips and keep them at the sewing machine, then slip them in under the presser foot if I encounter any trouble while stitching. It tears away easily.
- Double needle
- Stick-on labels
Cutting and marking
- Mark the right side with stick on labels.
- Mark dots/notches with small clips. These can be hard to see, so I also mark using colored pencils, making just a small dot right at the cut edge...I know it is there so I can see it, and it will be trimmed away once the seam is sewn.
- In the photo below, I've marked notches/dots with a fine line chalker and different color dots for reference.
Seam Finishes & Stitching
- A walking foot makes stitching easy
- I like the look of a narrow seam that hardly shows when the garment is worn
- Stitch the seam and then serge close to the original stitching so the seam is narrow. You could also adjust the width of the serged edge to be narrower. Test first, some meshes/laces are better without the extra bulk of the serged threads
- Or, simply stitch a second line of stitching 1/4” from the first, then trim close to this stitching for a narrow seam that does not roll.
- No seam finish at all is also an option....these fabrics do not ravel.
- Stitch S L O W L Y because there are open areas on these fabrics and the thread could break. I find when I stitch slowly it works much better
- Pressing is really important. Test the heat of your iron to see what works best. Most meshes and laces are a blend of nylon and lycra, and if your iron is too hot they could melt. I use a teflon plate on my iron to prevent this.
- Because the fabrics are synthetics they don’t want to hold a press. I use a clapper a lot to get a firmer crisper edge...for instance on hems. I press, then simply place the wooden clapper on the pressed area and let it cool down. Works like a charm and builds in a memory even if the crease seems to disappear.
- I use an oak tag template made from a manila file folder with lines marked in pencil to get a straight even hem.