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Shiny fabric help
Please rescue my son's Halloween costume.
sews4kids
sews4kids
Member since 5/5/13
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Date: 10/5/13 2:19 PM

Hello,

My kids are attempting to destroy my apartment while I work so please forgive me if the answer is somewhere obvious.

I am attempting to sew an astronaut costume for my son using shiny metallic fabric. I don't know what it is made of but it stretches and is sticky. The person at the fabric store where I bought it suggested using a walking foot, which I purchased. She also recommended a stretch needle (75) and nylon thread.

I have never worked with this kind of fabric before so I thought I would experiment on scrap fabric. Good thing that I did, because my sewing machine does not seem to like the fabric at all. The "recommended" stitch length is 3, but the stitches seem so far apart that the seams won't hold, and it appears that every few stitches are skipped. I dropped the length down to 2.5, then 2, then 1, and I still can't get a real seam. Worse, some of the stitches get skipped so it is completely uneven.

I have a bernina 580 with the Bernina walking foot.

Any advice would be quite useful. Thank you.

Wino
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Wino
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Date: 10/5/13 3:43 PM

Try a Teflon foot if you have one. Maybe microtex needles? Another option is to sandwich the fabric between strips of tissue paper which can be torn away after sewing. Good luck Halloween fabrics can be beastly!

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wino

Doris W. in TN
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Doris W. in TN  Friend of PR
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In reply to sews4kids <<


Date: 10/5/13 4:31 PM

Did you use nylon thread in the bobbin? A lot of sewing machines don't like nylon thread on top and bottom. Really, all you need is a good polyester sewing thread.

Did they sell you Wooly Nylon thread? It is on a cone, mostly used on a serger.

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iPad's auto-correct is my enema.

beauturbo
beauturbo
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Date: 10/5/13 6:05 PM

I can imagine how some of that knit, cheap, shiny made as Halloween costume fabric sold for that, could be kind of hard to sew on too. My guess is it is having a hard time making a stitch, because when your needle goes down then up again, the loop needed to make a stitch gets too small and misses and then you don't even have one. And maybe the fabric has a coating on top of it too, which probably helps none at all and makes it worse even. Also when trying to stitch, it might be sticking to your needle and getting raised up when the needle goes up too.

I too think you might be stuck having to sew though some tissue paper to make it work. I would try tissue paper on top first, if that did not work, on bottom and if that did not work, even just sandwich it between tissue paper top and bottom. That might do some good there and also try to keep it from flagging up and down and even riding up on your needle with every stitch. Try all kinds of needles to, as you never know what might work. You might even have to decide, between the fabric being able to run with a sharper needle and even it not skipping stitches, but since it's only a Halloween costume and maybe seen at night and from a distance, it might not be all that critical.

Also if using kind of a big needle, and regular thread, try using something like a smaller size 9 or 11 or 12 needle not a size 14 one. If you got a smaller needle eye, then less room for that thread to jump around in there, even in the needle eye, while trying to make the stitch even, and that might be a good thing.

SewLibra
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SewLibra  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/6/13 0:21 AM

I wouldn't think you would have trouble on such an expensive machine! I have an old mechanical Bernina and it does fine on metallic with a walking foot and a regular univeral needle, size 75 to 80. I use a 3.0 or 3.5 stitch. I have to think you have a threading issue, or possibly the needle in wrong? Metallic fabric is not normally a big deal for most sewing machines.

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SewLibra
Brother SB4138, Bernina 1008, Brother 1034D, Janome Harmony 9102D

dmitch1966
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dmitch1966  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/6/13 3:01 AM

What about trying a zigzag type stitch rather than a straight stitch? I've had good luck with knits using a walking foot, regular thread and the zigzag stitch that looks like a lightning bolt. Also, have you tried to give the fabric a prewash (even just a swatch to test with?) just to see if that helps to remove some of the stickiness you are dealing with? If it doesn't affect the fabric adversely I would do that to get rid of any finishes that might be causing the skipped stitches.

Good luck!!

beauturbo
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In reply to sews4kids <<
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Date: 10/6/13 5:45 AM

Some fabric that gets sold in some big chain stores really cheap and seasonal there, as special for Halloween costumes is probably pretty bad, especially if it feels sticky to finger tip touch or if you were to fold it in on it's self it sticks to it's self. That is not like using some more normal priced, not saying it's for costumes, otherwise knit metallic fabric probably.

Other than washing it first, if it seems to be really thin polyester single knit, with the metallic almost painted on there, you can try stretching it out all the way. Sometimes that sort of "breaks up the bond with it's self" on the coating of some knit fabric between the knits and purls on it, but when released and goes back to normal, it still looks about the same. That might make it, a bit more easy to sew on.

Maybe your nylon thread is the whole problem though, I can't imagine what kind of garment fabric I would even ever want to buy any nylon thread for at the fabric store at all actually. If it's clear nylon thread, like clear nylon monofiliment, I would just toss it and not even try to use it at all. And use regular garment sewing kind of thread instead. I think it's almost impossible to sew anything if the top and bottom thread was both that clearish, translucent, slippery and wirey nylon monofiliment kind of thread. Maybe your thread advice there was just weird and off. What does it say on the actual thread spool?

sews4kids
sews4kids
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Date: 10/6/13 8:50 AM

Thank you for the suggestions. I finally made it "work" by switching to the straight stitch plate and going with a 2.5. I also fittled with my walking foot a bit. It isn't perfect and I kind of hate the project, but at least it now vaguely resembles an astronaut. Of course my son has now decided that astronauts are supposed to wear white, not silver (that he picked out) and the costume looks girly, but I promised him that with patches and some decorative ribbon it will look more masculine.

Of course I could have just spent $20 on a store-bought costume, but what's the fun in that?

SandiMacD
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Date: 10/6/13 8:50 AM

I agree with beauturbo. I think you got the wrong needle & thread advice as well as needing a walking foot. I would have suggested a teflon foot if the paper trick didn't work. Just standard polyester thread and I always start with a universal or sharp. If that doesn't do it I switch to a microtex or stretch.
I have seen a good number of posts where Bernina's can be picky about threads- it's usually not the fabric.
Another suggestion I have seen- instead of buying a teflon foot you can try taping scotch tape onto your presser foot underneath- so that the non-sticky opaque tape side glides over the sticky fabric.
If the fabric is tacky or sticky or stretchy and needs to be glided, either sewing on a paper sandwich or using scotch tape on the foot or teflon foot can assist pulling it through.

If the fabric is slick or slippery then try painters tape with the textured side next to the fabric- or try a walking foot. But generally a walking foot works best with layers and thicknesses- not thin and sticky.

------
sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

Pamela R
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Pamela R  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/6/13 1:15 PM

I usually sew with the "sticky" side down , towards the feed dogs.

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