How to Sew and Care for Satin and Velvet Fabrics

If you are going to a wedding, graduation, prom or any formal dinners you will need a special dress or outfit. Satin and velvet are two fabrics which are firm favourites but they can be tricky to sew. This blog is full of tips to make your sewing journey with these two lovely fabrics easier.

What is Satin made from?

True satin fabric by definition is only be made of silk, however, these days a satin weave can be produced using filament fibres such as silk, nylon or polyester.

What you need to know about Satin fabric

  • Satin can crease and should be rolled up for storage rather than folded.
  • Pre-wash your fabric to remove any excess dye. If your fabric is highly sheened and you may want to put the "washing it off" as it may lose a bit of the sheen in the wash. If the satin is polyester, cut a swatch and throw it into the wash 30° before you wash the main fabric. This will indicate how it washes and how much shrinkage occurs and how the colour reacts.
  • Do not Iron this fabric. Press using a cloth and low heat, on the wrong side of the fabric. Do not use steam as it will leave watermarks on this fabric.
  • If hand washing, do not wring or twist the satin fabric. Gently swish through the cleaning  and rinse water.
  • Do not dry on high heat in a tumble dryer. Just keep it as flat as you can so it doesn't crease.


Cutting Satin Fabric

  • Sharp scissors and sharp pins should be used if you don't have pattern weights or clips and a sharp rotary cutter.
  • To avoid pinholes, avoid pinning your patterns outside of the seam allowance area.
  • Avoid catching the fabric as it can pull a thread which can't be fixed.
  • The layers will all slip, so you need to use paper between layers or cut the layers separately. Read this tutorial on how best to cut slippery fabrics from Grainline Studio.
  • Ensure you fabric pieces are all facing the same direction. Do not top and tail pieces to save fabric, the sheen will look funny.
  • You can use chalk or soap to mark your fabric, marker pens bleed into the fabric.
  • This fabric can fray a lot, so finishing it off properly is a must. Some people cut on the bias to prevent too much fraying.
M7507 McCalls
M7124 McCalls
B3714a Butterick
B5779a Butterick

How to sew Satin Fabric

  • Use a fine sharp new sewing needle, 70/10.
  • Test on a scrap how the machine sews your fabric. Alter the stitch tension ( you may need to increase the tension) and length ( a shorter stitch is sometimes better) to get a nice even sew line.
  • Hold the fabric taut when sewing as it helps prevent puckering.
  • Hand-tacking/basting can help get a good finish as this fabric is slippery.
  • Finish all edges with a zig-zag or overlock stitch as it frays.
  • Satin and seam rippers are not friends, take care as it leaves marks. Make a toile of the garment prior to sewing to ensure you get the right fit.
  • An underlining helps by reducing the strain on the seams and it also gives a smoother look to the garment.
  • Be careful, prepared and patient, the result will be stunning.
Elizabeth Gown Named Sewing Patterns
Colette claudette dress
Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

What you should know about Velvet Fabric

There are many different types of velvet, all should be sewn with due care and attention to pile direction. Silk Velvet, Cotton Velvet, Nylon Velvet, Polyester stretch velvet, cut velvet, crushed velvet, panne velvet, velveteen, plush velvet.

  • Velvet is soft and plush because it is woven in two layers.
  • Made of various fibres like rayon, silk and polyester with a plain underside and a very distinct pile on the right side.
  • Velvet has a good drape and is lovely for semi-fitted garments.
  • Velvet has a very distinctive nap or pile and it is very important to cut your pattern pieces all going the same way.
  • Before you even consider washing your velvet clothing, make sure to read the label, some are dry clean only.
  • Do not agitate the fabric too much if you have a polyester velvet and decide to machine wash it.
  • Do not use hot water as it can shrink and cause it to lose elasticity. Consider using a detergent for delicate fabrics or specifically for velvet. Set a washing machine to either the “gentle”  cycle.
  • Hand wash your velvet in lukewarm water and a small amount of detergent.
  • Avoid scrubbing or twisting the item, which can stretch or damage the fabric.

 What is Panne Velvet?

The term “panne,” when used in reference to velvet, describes a particular finish that is applied to velvet to increase its lustre. Panne velvet is a fluid fabric that is suitable for clothing, costumes and home furnishings. We have some nice Panne Velvet at Croft Mill Fabrics.

 What is Velveteen?

Velveteen is a woven, closely set short pile, not more than 3 mm deep; mostly made from cotton, or cotton and silk; is essentially “faux velvet” and drapes less well than velvet. It tends to be stiffer with a hard pile that lies flat (similar to corduroy).

 What is crushed Velvet?

Crushed Velvet Fabric is produced by mechanically twisting and crushing the material whilst still wet, resulting in a lustrous, patterned appearance.

Vogue 1520
Butterick 6144
burda 6887

Preparing and cutting velvet fabric

  • Check the nap direction, turn your fabric to the wrong side and mark the nap direction using tailor’s chalk.
  • Use pattern weights to hold the pattern and a rotary cutter to cut it out. If using pins and scissors, make sure to pin in the seam allowance.
  • Cut each piece out individually and always in the same direction.
  • Mark your fabric with fine stitches or chalk on the wrong side. Velvet makes holes very easily.
  • Do not cut on the fold, duplicate the pattern piece so you have the pattern in one. Cut on a single layer of fabric.
  • Mark notches with small snips or tailors tacks.
  • Use a microtex sharp needle or universal 70/10 or 75/11. Use a stretch needle for stretch velvet fabric. A new sewing needle should be used.
  • This fabric can move a lot so hand tacking/ basting is a good thing, use diagonal stitches to hold the pieces together.
  • Interfacing should be sewn in as ironing could damage the pile.

 How to sew Velvet Fabric

  • Always sew on a scrap first to check you have the right tension and stitch length.
  • Make sure you have the pile all the right way when you baste/ tack.
  • Sew using a walking foot to stop your fabric from stretching. You can also use a roller foot if you don't have a walking foot.
  • Keep the fabric taut as this helps with puckering.
  • Stitch in the direction of the pile.
  • At seam joins try cut out bulk as this gives a streamlined look.
  • Once sewn hang up for the night before hemming, this gives it settling time. Sew the hem using hand stitches just catching the fabric.
  • by loosening your tension slightly the stitches will sew over the pile nicely, try different settings on a scrap.
  • If you get "feeddog" teeth marks on the fabric when it is being sewn, alter the feed dog pressure.


Burda 9427
Butterick 6523
Vogue 1520
Vogue 9264

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  • Reply
    Angela Dent
    16/11/2018 at 8:02 AM

    I just wanted to say Thankyou for your posts. They are very informative and I have learnt a lot and they have given me lots of ideas for things to sew. I know posting involves a great deal of time but I really do appreciate them so once again a huge Thankyou.

    • Reply
      19/11/2018 at 11:58 AM

      Thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated. : )

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