How do you let the ‘feed dogs’ on your machine tackle these kinds of fabrics without simply gulping and spitting out the cloth before you have even started? Thick fabrics can be difficult, but not impossible, with a few little tricks up your sleeve you will be on your way to sewing thick fabrics.
Its time to let your machine get its teeth into something thick and chunky.
Before you start sewing thick fabrics, you need to check your machine accessories and regulate the sewing machine tension. Pre-wash your fabric to soften it a bit and always try out your sewing stitches on a scrap before you start. That is a key tip!
STEP ONE: Getting Ready to Sew
- Check for special feet that you may need for sewing thick fabrics. A walking foot that allows the top and bottom fabrics move together is a great help. A roller foot is another option as it helps the feed dogs to move the fabric.
- Check the needle is suitable for a tough fabric. The universal denim needle a size 90 or 100 is a good size. (read sewing machine needle sizes)
- Try out your machine setting and lengthen the stitch size slightly to a 3.5 or 4.5 and check your sewing machine manuals to be sure your machine can manage something a bit thicker than normal.
- Check you have really sharp scissors, or a rotary cutter and mat, to cut out the fabric with ease.
STEP TWO: Tips for Sewing Thick Fabrics
- Now you have checked all the preparations are done, its time to check your sewing thread types. Use heavy duty thread or you can sew with a double thread by using the bobbin winder with a bobbin thread as a second thread and pull the two cottons through the needle together.
- See if you can lift your presser foot bar higher to accommodate thicker fabric and that you can gently ease the fabric under it ready to sew.
- If your machine is still balking at sewing thicker fabrics, then consider using a wedge to lift the presser foot and get the seam started. You can make your own wedge by rolling up a piece of fabric and placing it under the presser foot behind the fabric to be sewn. This just gives the fabric a little lift to get started.
- If you have trouble getting started then it is also possible to hold the two sewing threads at the back of the machine as the machine is starting. Wrap them round your pointer finger and pull gently as you ease the fabric through its first few stitches.
- Remember you can gently pull the fly wheel towards you and ease the fabric through if the machine appears to be stressed at the thickness of the fabric. Always pull the wheel towards you and not away from you.
- Thick fabrics need seams with no bulk so look at the semi-flat fell seam or flat fell seam. Or if you are making a soft toy or cushion then trim away some of the bulk by grading seams.
- Always press firmly with a presser cloth and steam iron.
STEP THREE: Finishing off
- Reducing bulk is key as you want the garment to look neat and hang nicely. Look at different seam options, bias trims and try out on scraps first. Darts can be slashed and pressed open and soft linings can also help reduce bulk.
- The hem is an important finishing touch so look at the type of hems that won’t be heavy and thick. Try bias binding or a zigzag neatening and catch the top by hand with a catch stitch.
- Pressing to keep everything neat and is important.
It all comes to this…..
Dog training in mind! Make your thick fabrics – Sit – down – stay! That should keep your feed dogs happy with their lovely chunk of thick fabrics to chew on!