Illusion & Stretch Netting
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Illusion & Stretch Netting

    Oftentimes, the inner workings of a garment are what make it special and successful. The use of the proper linings and support fabrics can make the difference between ordinary and exceptional. Such is the case with the stretch nettings and illusion fabrics. While they are occasionally used in trendy garments as sleeves or collars, their primary function is to support other fabrics, particularly laces and loosely woven knits. These are fabrics that do not call attention to themselves. Instead, they provide the foundation for other fabrics with strong personalities. These fabrics are generally fine, thin, and in neutral colors such as black, white, and flesh tones. They are stretch fabrics, and can be fitted quite closely to the body. You may see these fabrics appearing as a fine net similar to bridal veiling (but with stretch, and much softer in feel). You may see these fabrics as something akin to tricot, a smooth, fine gauge knit. I like to keep yardage of both on hand, particularly in flesh tones, to underline light colored sweater knits.


    Illusion and stretch netting can be machine washed in cold water. Do not machine dry or use high heat on these fabrics.

    Needles and Thread:

    Your needle and thread choices will be determined by the outer fabric being underlined with illusion or netting. You will likely use a stretch needle, 75/11, and cotton, cotton/poly, or polyester thread.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Your illusion fabrics will likely be incorporated into the seams of the outer fabric. If you are making a trendy garment with illusion only, use the thinnest seam possible. A zigzag stitch, 2.0 length, 1.5 width, is perfect for maintaining the stretch of these fabrics. After stitching, trim the seam allowance closely, then zigzag over both seam allowances together to finish the seams. If you have a serger, a thin 3 thread rolled edge is a good seam choice, and will also be an excellent choice for the hems. Hems in illusion-only garments are generally left raw. The fabric does not ravel.


    Do not interface these lining/underlining fabrics.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Use to underline sweater knits, lace, heavy embroidery, or light-colored fine gauge knits. If you want to make a trendy top, use illusion for sleeves or drapey collars.

    Creative possibilities:

    Stretch netting makes a great base for all-over applique designs. If you are making a formal gown, use the netting behind sequin or lace fabric to give a smoother, more comfortable backing for the fabric. Several layers of netting, cut to varying lengths, make a pretty ruffled collar on onionskin or buttermilk knits.

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