Creases and needles

My latest project has been slow to get started because of a problem with creases.

It started with the metallic drill I bought in London a few weeks ago. I’m a sucker for anything sparkly and this fabric is both sparkly and yet subtle enough to wear to work. It’s supposedly 93% cotton and 7% ‘metal’ which didn’t sound plausible to me.

I thought that would go nicely with Vogue 8644.

As usual I put the fabric through the washing machine before starting to avoid shrinkage. I didn’t have space to dry it easily as it’s quite a long and wide piece. In the end I draped it over the clothes horse. That wasn’t wide enough and I didn’t want to let it hang over a corner so I didn’t lay it out flat, just left it sort of crumpled up. Experienced sewers are probably wincing. In fact if you have strong opinions about the correct way to treat fabric, better skip the rest of this.

It dried in amazing crinkles along the cross grain. I wish I’d photographed it now, Issey Miyake would have been impressed. The effect was quite attractive but obviously it wasn’t going to be possible to sew with.

I bashed away at it with a very hot iron and lots of steam and completely failed to remove the creases. My iron’s steam function is a bit feeble so I put it through the washing machine again on the very short cycle to get it to a state where it was damp but not too heavy to handle, and ironed it again as soon as it came out. This made very little difference.

The next day I put it through the machine again on the longest cycle on the grounds that a good soak might help. When it came out I pegged it to the washing line along the selvedge and pulled on it from the other selvedge so I was pulling on the cross grain. That actually started to reduce the creases a little but my arms got tired. Also the weather was so warm it started drying out. So I ironed it again on the highest setting with steam and the occasional cup of water thrown onto it. This has removed enough of the texture that it’s just about usable.

I don’t know if it’s the metal fibres that make it so resistant to ironing. I pulled a scrap of the fabric apart. The metal fibres are wound round the crossgrain fibres and are very fine indeed. It was quite difficult to remove one without breaking it. To my surprise they really do seem to be metal – the one I extracted bends and holds its shape just like a very fine wire. On checking my books I discovered that you should never iron fabrics with metal fibres because ‘they may melt’. Mine certainly aren’t melting though!

Amazingly, despite all the abuse, my fabric was still on grain when I squared up the ends and folded it in half. That’s an impressively tough fabric. Which raises the question, what sort of needle is going to be able to sew through it? I’ve got a collection of different sizes of universal needle, but I doubt they’ll manage.

I was searching the web to see what other sorts of needle are out there (rather hoping for Teflon-coated needles) and came across this fascinating page from Schmetz (although I wish they said a bit more about the manufacturing process). Teflon-coated needles don’t seem to exist, but it sounds like what I really need is a denim needle. Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to find one in town.

10 thoughts on “Creases and needles

  1. I don’t know if a denim needle is a good choice for this material. Denim needles certainly go through heavy cloth, but for this you might need a really fine needle.

    Also, the metal fibers may stick to your needle; I have found that when sewing a metallic like lame, that lubricating the needle with a dab of petroleum jelly helps. Rub it on the needle and then wipe the needle with a cloth before you sew to get off the excess. I had to clean the needle and repeat the procedure every once in a while, but it allowed me to sew my niece’s dance costume very nicely. Try the technique on a scrap of your fabric first to make sure it doesn’t stain.

  2. Your fabric sounds a bit like one I used last summer, except mine was a silk/cotton/metallic blend.

    I wanted all the wrinkles.

    I washed mine and then scrunched and wrung out the fabric along the lengthwise grain parallel to the selvedge (what’s the correct term for that? warp or weft??) and dried it flat wound around itself ( looking a bit like a skein of wool). Fabulous wrinkles!

    Then I cut out a very simple top with the fabric all pleated and wrinkled up. This was a bit hit or miss to get the right amount of “stretch” so the final top would fit over the wider bits of my body and pleat up over the narrower bits. It worked. There’s a picture of the top on Pattern Review. After several washes and scrunching it is even more irregularly pleated. Its a bit scratchy to wear- especially around my neck by the end of the day.

    I have another similar piece in navy. I’m planning to iron this one ( just to flatten it, not unwrinkle it. I like the wrinkles, which is good, because I can’t get them out with my iron either). I’m thinking a skirt, but the longer it stays in the stash the less likely this plan is..

  3. I’ve had a real chortle over this…the occasional cup of water…indestructible metal threads…hehehe! And your photo – I initially thought it was someone’s head wrapped up in fabric, but couldn’t figure out why. Then I realised it wasn’t. Or is it?

    Sorry, I know it’s not helpful. I hope you don’t mind my finding it all so hilarious.

    Thanks ever so for your comments about my poor top, by the way. I appreciate it, and I feel better about it. Which makes my laughing at you even worse…

  4. I’m contrite.

    And I know something good will come of your indestructible sparkly fabric. I just know it. And it will be really cool as usual!

  5. Soz to hear about the mad material. If I was you I would have gone with the wrinkled look. It covers a multitude on sins. It was nice to see at the weekend. Finally solved the phone problem. I had accidently ushed the secrecy button. Only found out today. Mum was wetting herself as she doen’t like having workmen in. I was quite looking forward to have a nice yound man round. Actully knowing my luck it would have been a baldy man who would like to retire LOL (ooopps I am in the baldy cat now lol).

  6. Oops! Guess who didn’t check for typos before sending. Hope you can decipher it. DOH!

  7. When I do embroidary I use gold plated needles as they slip through better. Little bit more expensive than normals. Wonder if that is any help????????????

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