This is one of those tips I’ve heard a million times but never actually tried: sandwiching slippery silks between two layers of tissue paper to make cutting easier and more accurate. Well, I finally tried it and it’s basically a MIRACLE.
I recently lined a garment with habotai, aka China Silk. Habotai feels lovely: light as a feather and silky soft. However, it is a veritable nightmare to work with (in my humble opinion). It is so weightless that it practically floats away when you try to cut it, plus the layers slip around on top of each other. Argh! You’re lucky if your cut piece of habotai even vaguely resembles your actual pattern piece.
So, obviously, I was dreading cutting and working with the habotai lining. (Why do I buy it? Usually to save money. It’s under $10 a yard, usually less than half the price of crepe de chine, which would be my first choice.) The college where I teach stocks rolls of tissue paper for the very purpose of cutting and sewing tricky fabrics, so I decided I needed to finally put this method to the test.
Here’s how it works. It’s best if you can get a roll of tissue paper, which is usually around 36” wide. Roll out a single layer on your cutting surface. Lay out your fabric on the fold, right sides together. Arrange the fabric so the selvages line up with one side of the tissue paper and pin them in place. Then fold the tissue paper in half lengthwise so that it’s sandwiching the fabric. Pin all the layers in place together. You’ll have a tissue layer on the bottom, the two layers of silk, and the second layer of tissue on the top.
Next, place your pattern pieces on top of the tissue/fabric sandwich, using the selvage or fabric fold to align your pattern grainlines as usual.
Then just cut around your pieces! There’s no need for special scissors or anything. The tissue paper keeps the layers in place, making cutting a breeze.
Look at those neat edges of the cut pieces.
Now that your fabric is cut, you can also use the tissue pieces as a stabilizer while stitching seams. Leave the tissue piece on your bottom piece as you’re sewing, and it will feed through your machine as easily as quilting cotton.
Then just rip away the tissue paper from the seam. Sew with a short stitch length (like 2.0 mm) to make tearing the paper more perforated and easier to tear away. Keep some tweezers handy to pick out any stubborn bits of tissue.
That’s it! This method is fabulous for all sorts of slippery silks, like charmeuse, chiffon, georgette, etc.
Are you a fan of this method? Have any good sources for tissue paper by the roll?