Taffeta fabric can make an ordinary sewing project extraordinary; its lustrous sheen, decadent texture and crisp rustle are a hallmark of fine formal wear and upscale home decor. The downside of creating your special dress with taffeta is that it can be tricky to work with. Snags, puckering seams and slippery surfaces make sewing with taffeta a nightmare for the inexperienced sewer. Avoid these most common pitfalls by following a few basic guidelines and successfully completing your special project will be a dream.
Prewash the Fabric
Washing taffeta reduces its stiffness and will make it easier to handle as you lay out your pattern and assemble your project. Wash your fabric, strictly following the manufacturer's instructions as found on the fabric bolt.
Cutting your pattern pieces will go more smoothly if you use a freshly sharpened pair of scissors. Likewise, sharp, like-new pins will pierce the fabric more cleanly, and leave fewer holes along your pin line. Lots of pins will be your best tactic in keeping this slippery fabric from shifting; you want to keep those many pin pricks from showing in your final product.
The Correct Needle
A size 11 needle is the correct needle for lightweight fabrics like taffeta. This needle must be a sharp, not a ballpoint, needle. If you hear a popping sound when the needle goes into the fabric as you sew, then your needle could be causing unsightly problems like snags, puckers or too-large holes.
Pressing always makes sewing easier, but this is even more true when working with taffeta. As you press, be careful to keep the iron temperature low to prevent spitting, which can result in staining. Since taffeta stains easily, use an organza press cloth to protect your fabric as you press.
Consider lining your taffeta garment with a light interfacing. A sturdy interfacing of lightweight fusible material will prevent fraying, which is a common problem when working with taffeta.
Hold fabric firmly both in front of and behind the foot as you run your seams; this helps prevent puckering of the seam. Secure raw edges with a serged or zig-zag seam; this will also help prevent unraveling or fraying.
Jill Brown has been writing and editing technical content since 1998. In 2000, ASM International published a supplement to "Advanced Materials & Processes" called the "Directory of Materials Properties Databases," which Brown compiled, wrote for and edited. Brown earned her Bachelor of Science in geology from Cleveland State University and has taken graduate coursework in environmental engineering.