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Jul 14, 2011

Peter's sparkly new fabric!

Good morning, sophisticates and hayseeds!

Desperate to jumpstart my sewing mojo, and feeling a bit giddy and irresponsible yesterday, I hightailed it to the Garment District, determined to return home with something I'd be excited about sewing with.  Voilà!   

Friends, let me try to describe this fabric -- it's not what it appears.  This is a tightly woven stretch knit (nylon-poly-spandex?) with small vinyl cubes adhered to the surface somehow; they don't peel off.

As you can see, the fabric drapes beautifully and looks almost exactly like sequins.  Cathy loves it and Michael loves it even more!

I'm not entirely sure how to sew with this stuff.  I may need a ballpoint needle for starters.  The challenge, I think, is that this fabric can't really be pressed (Can it -- perhaps from the wrong side?).

How do I get the seams to lay flat if I'm stitching over those vinyl cubes?  They're soft, but they don't take a crease just from finger pressing.  (SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM)

This fabric has a kind of Seventies disco vibe to me.   Here are a few patterns I'm considering, though Michael has insisted I make a tank top for him out of whatever's left -- can you imagine?

I'm fond of all three versions of this 1970 jumpsuit pattern.  So Fantastic Voyage.

Then there's this Vogue pattern I've been wanting to make for a long time but never found the right fabric.  Truth be told, it's the hood I love; the rest of the jumpsuit is a little meh, don't you think?

If the fabric were easier to sew with -- and I were sure I could press a seam flat -- I might be tempted to try something swingy from Vogue 8727:

There's also McCall's 9630.  Is it too Liza-does-HSN?

The there's this vintage swimsuit pattern that's been sitting in my stash for over a year.  We'll be spending a few days on Fire Island the week after next, and couldn't you see Cathy peeling down to a black sparkly bikini, a long striped poly chiffon cover-up flapping in the summer wind?

As you can see, I have a very eclectic pattern stash.

Friends, I can use your sophisticated input today.

Have you ever sewn with a synthetic novelty fabric (for lack of a better term)? Was it a total nightmare to work with? Were you able to press it?

I am oddly drawn to both faux fur and sequins and I think I have to get over my fear of them and really go to town.

What would you make with three yards of this fabric?


It presses -- on the coolest setting, right side down.  I pressed the seam allowance to the side (so the vinyl bits aren't directly exposed to the iron plate).

If I want to do a neckline, I'll make a black cotton facing (since it doesn't really stretch with all those vinyl bits anyway) and press from the cotton side.   Here are a few quickie samples (as you can see, I need a different needle -- and black thread of course!):

The pink fabric is from an old cotton poly sheet:


  1. I've never sewn with fabric like that, but if you're channeling Liza, the mantra is always Go Big or Go Home. :) Cathy is a pretty snazzy lady and can definitely pull of something uber-fabulous!

  2. This fabric screams swimwear to me! I vote for the bikini.

  3. As a jumpsuit it may present some cling and ease issues for Cathy...
    I would start with the tank for Michael.

  4. Truthfully, I don't think you can sew and press the squares. A simple tube skirt might be as good as you get out of this fabric. It reminds me of the issues you would have with sequins, except sequins can be removed at the stitching line.

    I once bought bright blue faux snakeskin for 99 cents a yard. The fabric tickled my punk rock sensibilities, but I ended up making a pants muslin with it and then throwing it out, since I am not a faux snakeskin -- let alone neon blue polyester faux snakeskin -- kind of person. It also did NOT lay flat or press well....I would have had to flat fell all the seams to get anything usable out of it, and that still might not have worked due to the stretch.

  5. My vote is for the swimwear and yes, the tank top! What fabulous beachwear it would make.

  6. Love the fabric. But love Fantastic Voyage even more. It just recently came up in instant movies on Netflix.

    Maybe the squares would bend better if you lightly ironed it on the backside. Or maybe just go with a simple caftan with a turban?

  7. I think I will try ironing the backside. Ouch!

  8. Great stuff! I used this exact fabric in my Fairy Gaga Witch costume last Halloween. I never sewed through it though--- I cut it into strips and glue -gunned it onto a dress hoop I made I think a jumpsuit would be awesome.

  9. Beware this fabric!

    I used fabric JUST LIKE THIS in gold and black for my Halloween costume (Rocky Horror). The sequin-like bits are adhered with a kind of glue. When you sew over them, a bit of the glue will adhere to your needle on every stitch. You'll be pulling glue off for ages. Also, sometimes the needle will pull the entire sequin bit off the fabric.

    And forget ironing. Even with a washcloth it was dismal. Sorry to be a negative Nelly!

  10. To solve the Glue Sqaure issue sew all seams with a strip of wax paper over the top. The paper will clean the glue off of your needle as you sew. I also recommend using the stretch needle and a small zigzag stitch or your serger to prevent seam threads from breaking.

  11. Been there. Done that. Won't ever do that again!

    Research how to sew this. There are tricks to it. Oil the needle, use a sharp needle to sew through the sequins, change needles frequently. Clear the area of all children and other sensitive ears.

    There are other tips that I learned after I sewed 10 dance costumes. But I purposely don't recall what they are. Maybe they would have made a difference. I can't wait to see what you come up with. I have no doubt that you will beat the beast.

  12. I learn the darndest things from this blog and the comments on it.

    Me, I say a swishy dress with a bodice of the square sequin fabric and alternating panels of the sequin fabric and something very flat in color to contrast and swingy. Preferably with curved panels.

    Then the swimsuit.

  13. Never sewn with anything like this but it really does seem destined for the Fantastic Voyage outfit!

  14. Liza Minelli freaks me out! I remember going to a double-feature when I was a kid and Fantastic Voyage was the second movie. I was SO bored and I didn't like all that sticky stuff they had to deal with. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to remake it. I'd watch it!

    I kinda like the yellow jumpsuit with the hood, but perhaps this fabric wouldn't be the best for it. I'd love to see Cathy in it -- with those white go-go boots. My mother refused to buy those for me. All these years later, I'm grateful for that.

  15. I made a long slinky gown out of the dark green version of that fabric and LOVE IT. I found it very easy to work with and pressed from the back. A teflon ironing cloth does wonders here.

  16. i would do the jumpsuit with the hood, because that fabric is deliciously loud & tacky (in the best way possible) and a hooded jumpsuit is absolutely appropriate. now i think i need a hooded jumpsuit.

  17. Looks like the one I picked up earlier, only mine isn't so square (more alligatory - rrrr!). It's a knit - just serge. No pressing whatsoever, if you're attached to your iron.
    I like the idea of the hooded jumpsuit - so 1978 :-).

  18. I made a wonderful coat from snakeskin-printed vinyl--I thought it was quite elegant. The 80s were like that. It wasn't hard to do but I got tired of it before it wore out. If I had a dime for the wonderful things I've given to Goodwill...

  19. Have used this type of fabric before, not of my own volition. Put on your safety goggles, as broken bits of needles will be flying at your face, over and over and over. Hate hate hate hate hate sewing this nasty, nasty fabric.

  20. Jumpsuit! What better way to jumpstart your mojo??

    Bikini would be my second choice.

  21. LOL! I didn't see this coming after yesterday's "sophisticated" post :-)

  22. I'm with treadle27--I learn the Most. Amazing. Things. from this blog!!!

    and oh yeah, you have got to make a bikini with this stuff.

  23. How about a hooded one-piece swimsuit?! Cathy would be crazy sexy cool in that and a big pair of sunglasses. I think Fire Island could handle it.

  24. hooded jumpsuit all-the-way! just to say i have one in my possession ;)

  25. This stuff is not as hard to sew as you might think. I used it once for a set of dresses for a ladies' barbershop quartet. Use a sharp needle to pierce the 'sequin' parts. Your needle will gum up frequently; keep a little swatch of cloth handy soaked in alcohol and wipe it down when it gets sticky. The narrow zigzag stitch is a good idea.

    You can press it from the back without much trouble, with low heat and some pressure; I used an organza press cloth so I could see what I was doing. I also used a clapper to press the seams flat while they were still warm. Don't use steam, as it can dull the sequins.

    The only thing that was a bit difficult was pressing a smooth hem, but it can be done. Make sure and do tests on scraps to see just how much heat/pressure you can use.

  26. Fantastic Voyage jumpsuit! They all look like they are on Fire Island too!
    And you can make the bikini out of the scraps!

  27. Oh my goodness. Please make the jumpsuit with the hood.

  28. Probably a dress for me. Maybe something short and one shouldered that I could wear to a club if I ever oh I don't know went to one. More likely I'd just be overdressed for the park. Eventually people will get used to that right?

  29. I'm pleased to see you gearing up to sew! I really think that if you are in a home dec type of mood - get a paper lantern and cover it with this fabric! :)

  30. Great ideas, folks!

    Just to be clear: these are NOT hard sequins, they are soft vinyl stick-ons. So far, they do not gum up my needle and they do not break needles.

  31. I work for a dry cleaner, and we have a customer "Rhonda" who appears in "drag competitions". She brings in the coolest dresses, and just this week I worked on a fabric something like yours. It was a simple tank dress - I put slits in the sides for her.

    The fabric was surprisingly easy to work with. It sewed easily with a ballpoint (size 11) needle, and we pressed from the wrong side. It came out just fine.

    Personally, I LOVE the bathing suit - I think Cathy would look fabulous in it!

  32. Did you say it did not stretch due to the vinyl squares? I know Cathy has a slim and elegant figure, but a swimsuit with no stretch sounds dangerous to me, even if she doesn't actually intend to swim whilst wearing it.

  33. I vote the second may be meh on the bottom, but those Vogue patterns are amazing to work with, I have found. I made a men's shirt for my dad from a 1970s Vogue and it was so well written/drafted. I think with a belt slapped on it would be truly fabulous. And it could go over a swimsuit? Oh, now I want to make it. Please make it!

  34. I've sewn carnival costumes with that kind of fabric, and the only problem I had was topstitching - the foot would stick to the vynil parts. I think adding a layer of very thin paper would help. Good luck with that!

  35. If the needle sticks or gums up with this try a product called Sewers Aide, it's a silicone lubricant. I use this when sewing through adhesive cold tape that's put on the back of fur skins for reinforcement of seams in repair work.

  36. oh goodie! You''ll be sewing dance costumes in no time, Peter! Just think: if you'd had daughters who danced, you'd be a pro with this type of fabric for years already!

  37. I'm learning so much from everyone!

    I vote for a simple tank dress for Cathy and a tank shirt for Michael.

    Cathy will look tre chic!

    It might be a simplified version of the dress on the extreme right of one of your photos:

  38. Hahaha! This is what half of my stash looks like! Shiny crazy fabric most people would never want to sew. Actually, this stuff isn't so bad to work with. Well, I suppose if you go from cotton and linen to this, yeah, it does kinda suck, but since I went from this type of material to linen and cotton, I just think of this stuff as "average" and cotton and linen as "strangely wonderful." Actually, for me the worst was metallic tissue lame - so many broken needles! But truly, this fabric won't be all that bad to sew with, and the results should be quite fun!

    As many of the comments have stated - sharp needles may be the best options because they will pierce the vinyl more easily. I would use a ball point if the fabric was mostly knit with a few sequins, but since this is mostly vinyl shiny stick ons, I think sharp might be better.

    If you have problems with skipped stitches, wax paper or stabilizer are good options.

    As to the glue-residue - it will get on the needle, but it takes time to build up. Alcohol is probably the best option for cleaning.

    Also - I just made the Vogue 8727 pattern for my sister! It is super cute - the skirt is great for twirling because it is so full, but it does use a lot of fabric. Since this stuff is non-directional you should be good to go with 3 yards though.

    I am also sort of liking the hooded jumpsuit idea - I am thinking of some great face shots of Cathy with the hood up could be really glamorous.

    In any case, I can't wait to see the results!

  39. My daughter bought some of this stuff, planning to make herself a slinky outfit (she's 10 years old and every girl needs a dress for the under-18 disco, don't they?). I'm not entirely comfortable with her choice of pattern (hemline a little high!), but this Dad's rule for his little angel is that "you can wear it, if you sew it."

    Like you, we found the shiny squares a bit intimidating. Thanks to everyone for your tips on how to work with this material.

    It looks like her "little black (mirror ball) number" is back on the agenda.

  40. I swear it's the same fabric Cleopatra wore in 2006:

    It has a fabulous swing because of the weight of the vinyl on the knit.

    Can't wait to see what pattern you choose!

  41. I once made a halter top from a red metallic fabric - it was a knit base with red metallic dots. I was very much a beginner, so the result was not great, but it's not like I ever wore it in daylight anyway.
    I think Cathy needs a bikini.

  42. "it's not what it appears." I'm curious to hear what it appeared to be to you. Your description is exactly what I thought it was.

    Of course, Cher does comes to mind when I look at it...

    I look forward to seeing what you make with it!

  43. Beth, at first glance I think it looks like metallic sequins, the sewn-on kind.

  44. Peter, I've just sewn something similar. Don't forget cutting anything sequined or beaded will blunt your scissors or cutting blade. And my other big tip is, the inside is very itchy at seam lines - the plastic sequins are quite harsh on the cut edges. so either line outfit or bind the seams.

  45. Fantastic Voyage! I've sewn a few Burning Man costumes from similar sequined fabric. I usually iron the back with tissue paper over it, pin the tissue paper, and then sew the seams with the tissue paper on top of the back of the fabric. Pattern paper or tracing paper work well too if you don't have leftover tissue paper from shopping packages. I prefer tissue paper to waxed in order to use with the iron.

    Tell Cathy to watch her back because I might be on a plane from CA to steal that jumpsuit!

  46. Ohh god, jumpsuit with hood. With tons of pics. I love this fabric! /swoon

    Cannot wait to see what you do!

  47. Dahling....this is where your Claire Shaffer's Fabric Sewing Guide comes in handy. I think you should make all 3 yards of that into a caftan! You'll sparkle all over the beach, or Cathy will.

  48. It looks awesome and the best thing about this fabric is that it is made up of a very light material. It shines and rock the stages. Very good creation.
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