A Fashionable Stitch » sartorial sewing

the Best Tip for Cutting Slippery Fabrics!

Way back when, when I did this post on working with silks, there was a very clever reader that gave me a great technique that I’ve used ever since. Slippery fabrics can be a b*%&^! to cut. Ugh! I’ve used my self healing mat and rotary cutter with them, but honestly, I’m a shears girl. I’ve always worked with shears and for me, they’re just easier to handle. So if you’ve got a thing for your shears too, here’s a very handy tip.

Keep a length of muslin handy at all times. I have a yard that I have hanging up in my “sewing closet” (and yes, I actually now have a full closet dedicated to sewing + an entire room! Yay!).¬† Lay the muslin down first and then lay the slippery fabric over the top of it and begin pinning your pattern pieces in place through all layers. Now, with your shears perpendicular to the table, cut only your slippery fabric out. And Voila! The pattern doesn’t shift around, the slippery fabric doesn’t shift around and the shears will make nice even cuts instead of jagged edges (which is what usually happens for me when I don’t use this technique).

It’s OK, if you think this is like magic, because really it is. It’s also OK if you have some doubts that this just won’t work for you. It may not, but hey, you’ve at least got to try it once. Next to sliced bread, this is a pretty neat trick. Show your friends! They’ll be terribly impressed! Enjoy!

xoxo,
Sunni

  • Corinne - What a great idea! I have used a modified Margret Islander method for a long time, she advocated using tissue paper as a stabilizer. This sounds much better, thank you so much. I have several blouses to cut out (I hate cutting!) and will try this.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - Doh, I just cut out a Jasmine blouse from slippery fabric, literally about an hour ago. You must have been reading my mind Sunni! I got really cross in the process as the fabric kept changing shape, so I’ll definitely bookmark this tip for next time. Great tip, thank you. xReplyCancel

  • Amanda S. - Thanks for the tip! I will definitely be trying this next time I use a slippery fabric.ReplyCancel

  • Tracey Wirth - This is a really great tip!! Any suggestions on a brand of shears to invest in? I am going to ask my husband for a pair for Christmas!
    Thanks!
    TraceyReplyCancel

  • Anita - This is brilliant! I am a shears girl, too. I use my rotary cutter for crafty things like pillows and aprons, but when I am sewing garments, I’m old school. I can’t wait to try this! xoReplyCancel

  • Nikki - Oh, what a brilliant tip! I wish I’d known that about a month ago!!ReplyCancel

  • Erika - Brilliant! Great tip, thank you so much! I’ve been a bit hesitant about cutting silk (I’m a shears girl as well, just haven’t taken to rotary cutters), but I’m def going to try this one when I get to the silk in my stash (hopefully before Christmas).ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Love this! I hate cutting out clothing patterns with rotary cutters, unless it’s something like an actual rectangle-shaped piece, because it’s way too easy to slip and cut into the pattern itself. And this seems much less wasteful than the paper method. I will definitely be using this the next time I have a tricky fabric– thanks, Sunni!ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Thanks so much for this tip! I have some slippery rayon lining I need to cut out this very day, so I’ll be able to put this to very good use.ReplyCancel

  • Esz - Brilliant! I will try this next time – right now I’ve just been using tissue paper underneath the slinky fabric to stabilise it a bit while cutting. This looks like a better idea and I wont have to keep hunting for tissue paper :-)

    As for shears vs rotary – I only have shears and love them. I dont have a proper cutting mat, only cardboard so a rotary cutter wouldn’t be good anyway.ReplyCancel

  • Gail - Another method that works and may not be as costly as cutting muslin is butcher’s paper. It is quite stable and comes in wide sheets.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - I am definitely going to try this. I have tried to work with lining fabrics twice, so far, with a year in between because the first time left me so frustrated. ;) So I am always on the lookout for ideas!ReplyCancel

  • Pam ~Off The Cuff~ - Thanks for posting this!

    It’s something you really do have to try to to believe. Since the under-fabric (muslin, or an old rough cotton sheet), is *not* cut there is no waste. When I regularly taught Shirt-Making in my studio workroom, I always demo’d this to my students…it always was an oooh-ahhh moment!

    I have a separate cutting table that is thinly padded and wrapped with heavy muslin in my workroom that my tailors and I use to accurately cut pockets and collars. Because along with slippery fabrics like silks, linings, etc, it works great for very fine cotton shirting fabrics….no “creep” :)ReplyCancel

  • sadie - Brilliant! I am going to try this out soon. I hate using a rotary cutter and often times mess up cutting because of my loyalty to my lovely shears. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Tanit-Isis - Oh, I like this trick! I will definitely give it a try next time I get up the courage to tackle a slippery, difficult fabric…ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - Wow, this is amazing! I usually find wrestling with slippery fabrics annoying, to say the least, so this is a real lifesaver! Yay! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Reyna - Wow, this is such a great idea! I really hope it works well for me bc I wanted to kill my silky fabric yesterday after spending so much time cutting it out! LOL. Thanks so much!

    ReynaReplyCancel

  • Tips for Cutting Slippery Fabric « Sewing Friends Wearables - […] recently read two tips for cutting slippery fabrics. The first one is from a fun blog called A Fashionable Stitch¬†(click the link to see the original post or view the copy-&-paste job […]ReplyCancel

  • the rotary cutter revisited « Life As I Knit It - […] did you read Sunni‚Äôs post on using shears on tricky fabrics from last month? I thought it was great. I‚Äôve always been a fan of my lovely Mundial shears, but […]ReplyCancel

  • Rena - I’m SO glad I found this post! I had been using the tissue paper method, which is such a pain that the last few times I just didn’t bother and ended up with misshapen pieces. I thought slippery fabrics and I were parting ways. Thanks to your post, we’re getting back together! :)ReplyCancel

  • How Do You Notch? « LLADYBIRD - […] fine the way they are, but cutting the Bemberg rayon took a little bit of finesse – I used Sunni’s brilliant tutorial for cutting slippery fabrics and used silk pins for the first time. My tip if you want to try this – pin the slippery […]ReplyCancel

  • prttynpnk - Thanks for this! Usually I have one leg up on the table, my elbow on fabric and am staring the cats into a frozen pose to help hold down the pattern on a slick fabric. Muslin hunting, here I go!ReplyCancel

  • Gabrielle - Thanks for the tip – the cutting out seems to be more than half the battle with slippery fabric, doesn’t it – I will definitely try this soon.ReplyCancel

  • It's Sew Easy » Blog Archive » Learning to Sew by Hand – The Basting Stitch - […] you don’t risk ruining the fabric by making a mistake. Basting is also great for working with slippery fabric. Satins and silks can sometimes bunch, gather ¬†and slip in places you don’t want it to, and […]ReplyCancel

  • sew make believe » Top Tip Tuesday: Cutting Slippery Fabric - […] some types of fabric can be rather tricky. If you are working with slippery fabric have a look at¬†these¬†tips from¬†A Fashionable Stitch¬†before you start cutting. Share […]ReplyCancel

  • Monica - I found this tip on Pinterest and look forward to trying it!ReplyCancel

  • Arted1 - Outstanding tip! Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • 2-in-1 Sewalong: Cloth Cutting - […] into your fabric and if you’re using a slippery fabric and you’re a shears lover, use this tip. Please note that you can also use a rotary cutter and […]ReplyCancel

  • KJ - Heavens, you just took ten years off my life!ReplyCancel