Even the Most Beautiful Fabric May Have Flaws

I just noticed that my beautiful teal and brown coating has flaws! There are long gold strings, white lumps and even blue bumps on my coating fabric. I didn’t notice it at first, but it’s not the end of the world. We can work around them and still have a beautiful coat at the end of it all.

I wanted to share some tips and suggestions for working with flawed fabric, in case this happens to you too!

Here are some thoughts on working with flawed fabric:

Check if flaws are on the right side or the wrong side. My fabric looks basically the same on both sides, but all of the flaws are on one side. That’ll be my wrong side then! If you’re lucky, all of your flaws will be on one side and will be covered by the lining!

Cut around the flaws. If you’re just buying the fabric when you notice the flaws, see if the salesperson will throw in a bit of extra yardage for free. (Hey, it never hurts to ask!) If they won’t, decide whether it’s worth your time and extra cost to buy more fabric and work around the damaged areas. And remember to buy extra fabric!

Place the flaws in hidden areas. If you have limited fabric and can’t work around the flaws, try to keep them off your coat’s centre front, or centre back, or the collar. Try to hide flaws under the arm, in the hem allowance, in seam allowances, inside pleats – anywhere that won’t be super obvious.

Don’t snip the threads or lumps! If there’s a loop or long thread, snipping it might cause further damage, even holes! You don’t want that. Leave it alone. If you have any long strings on the right side, take a needle with a large eye and thread the end of the loose fabric-flaw through the needle. Poke the needle through the fabric close to where the flaw originates, pulling the thread tail to the back to hide it.

Know that flaws will probably happen again. If the fabric has snagged once, it will probably snag again! That’s all right. We’ll simply repair the snags if they happen on the right side of the fabric. I plan on fixing them by stitching over and over by hand using matching thread. Like embroidery, but meant to blend in. Handle your fabric with care while you’re sewing – take off your rings and jewelry, and be careful when pinning and removing pins!

How do you work around flawed fabric? Any tips to add to this list?

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14 Responses to Even the Most Beautiful Fabric May Have Flaws

  1. Toby Wollin October 11, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Another thing to do (though some might find it a pain in the neck) is to take a needle with a very large eye (like a darning needle), put it into the fabric right next to the pulled thread, get the thread into the eye (you might need another needle to ‘encourage’ it) and then pull the needle through the back side of the cloth. This will pull the thread to the back side, secure it and hide it.

    • Tasia October 12, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      @Toby Wollin: Thanks Toby! Good suggestion!

  2. Corinne October 11, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    This is somewhat similar to Toby’s suggestion. In quilting we bury our knots in the layers of fabric and batting. If you thread a needle and pull the flawed fiber through the fabric thickness and literally bury it in the fabric itself, it will be hidden. Then if the fabric is wool, do what I call “finger felting.” Just pinch that area between thumb and forefinger and use a pill rolling motion to mesh the threads together. I do this all the time with woolen sweaters.

    Another way to secure a thread that may not be wool and will not mesh is to take a fine thread, in silk, poly or rayon, and take a few stitches into the flawed fiber then into the wool itself to secure the offender. I would do this to all the flaws before cutting.

    Examine the fabric for additional flaws by draping it over your hand and with a little tension and see if anything else pops. If your get more pops than you are comfortable with, get new fabric. A coat is a lot of work and gets a lot of wear and friction. Using a flawed fabric is just not worth the trouble. My two cents.

    • Tasia October 12, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      @Corinne: That is a great idea about finger-felting! I read about doing that with knitting, when you add another ball of yarn. Wool felts really easily, and you can use your hands to rub it together, felting two ends together. Funny how I haven’t thought of how to apply it to sewing yet!

      I agree, a heavily flawed fabric is not really worth the trouble. I’m lucky in that mine are all on the back side. (That, and I already own the fabric, and it was a present, so I’d like to make it work! It’s so pretty that I’m willing to ignore a few flaws on the inside as I work.. and hopefully won’t make any more flaws while sewing.)

  3. Tasha October 11, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I’ve done what Toby and Corinne suggested, too. It works nicely on knitted fabrics, whether machine or hand knit. I just make sure to keep my stitches (with matching thread) on only the back side of the knitted stitches, so it won’t show from the front. I also stretch the knitted fabric just slightly while doing it so my hand stitching doesn’t accidentally make a pucker, or prevent the knitted fabric from stretching like it normally would.

    • Tasia October 12, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      @Tasha: Thanks Tasha! Good point about stretching the fabric slightly so it doesn’t pucker.

  4. Wendy October 11, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Hi Tasha, to pull the loose thread to the back of the fabric, I use a very small crochet hook(mine is a 0.75mm one).

    • Tasia October 12, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      @Wendy: Thanks! That sounds like it may be easier than threading a needle!

  5. Wendy October 11, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Sorry I mean Tasia.

  6. Shelly October 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Oh my goodness – how annoying to find faults in your lovely fabric. I’ve got a ‘gadget’ (don’t know what it’s called) that looks like a darning needle without an eye. It has a rough end on it like a metal file instead. You simply poke the needle end through where the pull is and the rough end just grabs and pulls the loose fibre through to the back. Brilliant!! I use it on all sorts of things. I hope that makes sense :)

    • Tasia October 12, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      @Shelly: Thanks Shelly! That makes sense. I wonder what the gadget is called? Sounds like it does the same thing as a crochet hook or needle but is easier to work..

  7. Caroline October 12, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    I’m excited for this coat of yours!

    Right now I’m making a waterproof, windproof breathable rain cycling coat for my BF. Holy waterproof zippers and seam sealing! It’s nice – I even put in a port for an iPod and armpit zippers. But I’d much rather be finally making that Burda 8603 in something luscious and warm for myself, though.

    I agree about pulling flaws to the back side of the fabric, or cutting around them. To save fabric you can put them in your seam allowances or even where patch pockets or buttons are supposed to be. Also, if you pull a loop to the back and its’s long, dangly, and annoying, I would probably snip it in the middle, tie the ends together with a good knot and clip the excess.

    I do like Corinne’s advice and think if you had the right tools that’d give the most pleasing result.

    • Tasia October 12, 2011 at 10:34 am #

      @Caroline: Your rain cycling coat sounds amazing!! How nice of you to make it for your BF – it’s something that will get worn and appreciated every day, especially in the rain! It’s rained every single day this week, and I’m guessing you have similar weather too! Did you use seam-sealing tape or that gooey stuff in a tube? How was it to work with?

      Thanks for the tips on dealing with flaws! I agree, if they’re really long and dangly and annoying I’d tie them in a knot and get rid of the extra.


  1. From Me To You To Me | Did You Make That? - December 17, 2011

    [...] major, but they’re there. Thankfully, the ever-reliable Sewaholic recently blogged about finding flaws in coating. Her post prevented me from snipping the snags off, but I couldn’t use her needle method of [...]

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