Monday, January 16, 2012

Sewing Tips: Working with Terry Cloth

     As a seamstress, I'm never afraid to try different types of fabric in my projects. It's always exciting to work with new materials, and it expands the range of options I can offer to my customers.  I've just completed a doll-sized robe made out of terry cloth. Other great project ideas are wash cloths, towels, burp cloths, or bibs. It was my first encounter with this "warm and fuzzy" fabric, and I thought I'd share my experience with it.

My first impression: it is messy!

     You will constantly encounter scenes like this one while you work on your project-at your work table, the ironing board, around the machines, on the floor, etc. I would definitely recommend wearing an apron while working with terry cloth, or else you'll have it all over your clothes. Be sure to remove the apron when you leave your workspace so you won't spread the sheddings throughout your house!  It is a good idea to keep your area clean as you work. Take the time to wipe off your surfaces when you see a lot of accumulation. It will surely keep the mess from getting out of control.


Next: it is thick and bulky.

     I used longer stitch lengths while sewing with the terry cloth, both on the machine and the serger. Occasionally, the needle would "catch" on the loops of terry and pull on it. But that didn't happen often. I really didn't encounter any difficulties sewing with it on the sewing machine. Using the serger was a different story.
      The terry cloth made it through the serger in a single layer just fine. But sewing the double layers of a seam was difficult for the serger's cutting blade to handle, especially on longer seams. Instead of piling up in the tray, the cuttings would continue through past the cutter and become entwined in the serged seam. I tried pulling slightly on the cuttings as they emerged, but only with limited success. The picture on the left shows two different serged seams. The seam on the left worked perfectly; the one on the right shows the bulkiness of the seam where the cuttings were entangled.

A good tip: Use a different colored thread where possible.
     Should you need to undo a seam, the loopiness of the terry cloth makes it nearly impossible to find your stitches. I was using white thread on white fabric, and wasn't able to make a correction that I needed. If you are a beginner (or a perfectionist like me), it's a good idea to use a different color of thread on areas that will not be seen. Choose a light, but different color. I could have used a light pink on the hidden areas to distinguish my stitches from the pile of the fabric.

Finally: Encasing and/or serging cut seams is a must.

    
     The shedding of this fabric comes from its cut edges, not the fabric surface itself. Serging these cut edges will keep it from shedding as a finished product. Make sure that all raw edges are either serged or closed off (encased) from any exposure. I used a fusible tape to bind the front facings to the robe, so that the seam on the inside wouldn't shed from underneath. When my robe was complete, I took it outside and gave it a real good shake to get rid of any remaining shedding. Taking the time to perform these steps will ensure you or your customers will be happy with the finished product. Here is my finished product:

     I will definitely use terry cloth in future projects! Although it was slightly challenging, the final results were worth it.



14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Beth! Makes me want to make a big one for myself :)

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  2. Well done! Good tips...I've wanted to try terry cloth but haven't been brave enough yet!

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  3. I'm a novice with a sewing machine and I'm making diaper doublers with terry and flannel. How do i keep the terry from migrating as I'm sewing it to the flannel? TIA

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  4. That is a good question. I would baste them together before sewing your seams. Try that...

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  5. What size needle do you use? Both 16 & 18 are making my threading break

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  6. Hi Angela. Love the bathrobe! I am interested in learning how to sew my own bath towels and hand towels using terry cloth, but can't seem to find any tutorials or video's on how to do this?? Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks ~

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  7. Absolutely adorable! I am eager to try my hand at making some robes and I especially appreciate your information and advice to use an apron - makes very good sense. Thank you for your post!

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  9. I'm working with Terry for the 1st time today trying out an idea I had for making "spa baskets" to give as gifts for Christmas. I'm not doing robes, my sewing skills just aren't there yet, but I want to make cute 2-piece sets of towel wraps with matching turban style hair wraps. I'll add a pair of slippers, a loofah, and some bath & body care products all personalized for each recipient. I think it's a gift I can make from the heart for each of my daughters and granddaughters to enjoy. I love the little doll robe you made! Where did you find the cute pattern?

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  10. I'm working with Terry for the 1st time today trying out an idea I had for making "spa baskets" to give as gifts for Christmas. I'm not doing robes, my sewing skills just aren't there yet, but I want to make cute 2-piece sets of towel wraps with matching turban style hair wraps. I'll add a pair of slippers, a loofah, and some bath & body care products all personalized for each recipient. I think it's a gift I can make from the heart for each of my daughters and granddaughters to enjoy. I love the little doll robe you made! Where did you find the cute pattern?

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  11. I'm working with Terry for the 1st time today trying out an idea I had for making "spa baskets" to give as gifts for Christmas. I'm not doing robes, my sewing skills just aren't there yet but I want to make cute 2-piece sets of towel wraps with matching turban style hair wraps. I'll thrown in a pair of slippers, a loofah, and some bath and body care products and I think that's an easy gift I can personalize for each of my daughters and granddaughters. I love the little doll robe you made! Where did you find the cute pattern?

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  12. Lush robe. I was wondering what tensions, needles, differential feed & stitch length you used on your serger when sewing double layers???

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  13. I've had difficulty with terry cloth fabric. Specifically, serging a single layer of terry cloth tends to curl at the edges, while making face cloths. Any tips regarding tension, stabilizers, thread length? Thank you, Bernie

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