Fabrics with Metallic Threads
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Fabrics with Metallic Threads

    Fabrics with metallic threads are always in fashion. Some of these fabrics are made entirely of metallic threads, while some are fiber-based fabrics with metallic thread accents. These fabrics are lustrous, beautiful, and elegant. Whether your fabric is an all-over metallic (like lame), or simply contains metallic threads (like many current brocades), you'll want to take special care with these fabrics.


    No pretreatment; these are dry-clean only.

    Needles and Thread:

    A sharp needle is your best choice for working with metallic thread fabrics. These needles are currently labeled "quilting" needles, and come in a variety of sizes. Choose the size needle based on the weight of your fabric; a heavier fabric containing only accents of metallic threads will require a size 14 or 16 needle. Lames, which tend to be very fine in weight, need a size 11 needle.

    Another needle option for these fabrics is a metallic/metafil needle. These needles are specifically marketed for use with metallic thread fabrics. Again, choose your needle size based on the overall weight of the fabric. Use a cotton covered polyester or all polyester thread for best results.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Use a slightly lengthened seam, about 3.0-3.5, for most seams. Many metallics will ravel or shred at the seams if not treated. A bound treatment is best for most seam allowances, as it is the most comfortable to wear. Use fold-over bias tape, nylon seam binding, or custom-made bias. Rayon seam binding is acceptable for the fabrics which have a lesser amount of metallic threads. Hems are best done by machine, and the raw edges should be bound. If you're working with lame, a lining is recommended.


    Sew in interfacings only. Use batiste, organza, or fine linen as your interfacing.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Evening wear, jackets, pants, tops, dresses, wraps, capes, hats, purses.

    Creative possibilities:

    For a truly elegant, unique garment, add beads, fringe, or sequins to your metallic fabrics. Or, to push the fabric toward a more casual feel, use a contrast fabric for details such as pockets or collars. Corduroy, velveteen, and denim all will contribute a more casual look to your garment.

    Additional Tips:

    Metallic threads should not be exposed to high heat. Test a sample of your fabric before pressing seams, and always use a press cloth.

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