Tips and Tricks for Sewing Slippery Fabric

How to Keep Fabric From Shifting While Sewing

Deep blue satin cloth

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Whether you're new to sewing or a seasoned stitcher, there's nothing more frustrating than trying to sew fabric that keeps slipping, sliding, and shifting as you work. Prewashing the fabric before you begin your project will help; once you start sewing, try the tips below to help keep your fabric in place.

Sewing Machine Settings for Slippery Fabric

Making sure your sewing machine has the proper settings will go a long way in helping to keep your fabric from shifting while you sew. This includes:

  • Setting the stitch length to 10–15 stitches per inch.
  • Working with the sewing machine pressure adjustment to see if more or less pressure on the presser foot helps to hold the fabric in place.
  • Using an even feed or walking foot to help feed the layers of fabric evenly through the sewing machine.

More Sewing Hacks for Keeping Fabric in Place

If changing the settings on your sewing machine doesn't help, there are several more tricks to try.

  1. Extra-fine pins can hold the fabric in place and be removed as you approach the sewing machine needle. It may take a little extra time, but it's much less time consuming than using a seam ripper to remove stitches that aren't where they're supposed to be if your fabric slips while you sew.

  2. Hand basting allows you to have more control of the fabric and hold it in place for machine sewing. Use straight-stitch seams on most fabrics; for sheer fabric, use French seams.

  3. Temporary fabric adhesive spray can be your friend, but be sure to use this notion in a very well ventilated area. It will hold the fabric where you want it while you stitch it in place. 

  4. Grab a glue stick––just an everyday glue stick meant for crafting and school projects is fine. Test it for visibility and washability on a scrap first to make sure it doesn't ruin your fabric. Use a light application of glue on the seam allowance to hold the fabric in place while you work.

  5. Baste the fabric in place with fusible tape. A very narrow tape is usually perfect to hold fabric in place while it's flat on the ironing board and make it stay put while you sew it. Be sure to keep the fusible tape in the seam allowance.

  6. Many people swear by tissue paper. Place a layer between the fabric to eliminate the sliding. Even better, spray both sides of the tissue paper with temporary spray adhesive and then use it between the fabric. You won't have any adhesive directly on the fabric, but it will provide enough stickiness to keep the fabric in place. When you're done sewing, the tissue paper rips out like it was never there since it has become perforated with the needle.

  7. Purchase inexpensive pattern weights (or make your own) and use them to hold the slippery fabric in place while you sew.