Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Working with Silnylon and other slippery materials
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Working with Silnylon and other slippery materials on 01/06/2010 06:12:34 MST Print View

Hi all,

So far I have only sewn materials such as ripstop and other non-slippery materials.

My next project I am going to attempt to make a poncho or tarp (or poncho tarp) and wanted to know from those of you MYOG'ers out there how do you sew sil effectively.

I have seen some of the work others have done and very interested to know how you manage to sew so straight, especially when doing ridgelines and seams.

What are the tricks of the trade?


Lucas Boyer
(jhawkwx) - MLife

Locale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
Mark, on 01/06/2010 08:17:26 MST Print View

There are different ways for everybody, but some of the popular ways are to use pins within the seam allowance(place them perpendicular to the seam so you can pull them out as you feed through the machine), clothes pins are recommended too, rather than pins. Some have used a tissue like paper to give the fabric some grip and then just rip it out when you are finished. I find that using the lines engraved on the metal plate of my sewing machine as a guide to keep the fabric straight works very well. As long as you keep the fabric lined up w/ those lines, you don't have to worry about watching the seam, etc. Before you sew your project just get some scrap fabric and run some practice seams on those. I will do this after a long break from sewing just to warm up again. Running a sewing machine is similar to running a band saw or table saw. I know many people haven't run those either, but it's not hard once you've had a bit of practice. I sewed a tarp and bivy and hadn't used a sewing machine in 20 years. To me, the biggest challenge is keeping the machine functioning properly. I used a cheapo Brother machine that didn't like the bar tacks I was using.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Working with Silnylon and other slippery materials on 01/06/2010 08:24:33 MST Print View

This will be an interesting read. I just finished the first of my practice quilts, and I have to admit, I don't think there is a straight seam anywhere on it. Lucky it got turned inside out. I bet a walking foot helps too.

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Working with Silnylon and other slippery materials on 01/06/2010 08:59:46 MST Print View

the easiest seam to use for a ridge line is a french seam (see

You can do this without any pins, which saves hella time. I just line the fabric up on one end of the seam and put the needle down to keep them lined up. Stomp the foot down (i line up to the edge of my foot to have any easy line vs the ones on the plate, i can move my needle for 3/8" first seam and 5/8" second giving me 1" seam allowance) As long as you hold both pieces of fabric and apply tension to both in front and behind the needle it should go pretty easy.

For the hems you can pin them if you want (i hate pinning but it does look better so i do it now) or you can do what i used to do. You can fold the first fold of the hem and sew it keeping it lined up on the foot, then you fold and sew again. This will have 2 lines of stitching which will most likely not line up, but it is fast and easy compared to pinning and it looks fine for home projects, i only changed as i began selling stuff.


Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Hot Tacker? Re: Working with slippery materials on 01/06/2010 11:49:36 MST Print View

Has anyone tried using a Hot Tacker? "Hot Tacker - A hot knife with a "spring tip". The spring remains cool and holds the fabric while the hot tip temporarily Fuses the material together" Commercial models are expensive at close to $100, but apparently you can make something that works from a soldering iron and a spring from a spiral notebook.

Seems it might be a good way to hold the edges together before sewing.

Edited by jimqpublic on 01/06/2010 11:51:08 MST.

Dan Whalley
(thedanwhalley) - F

Locale: peakdistrict natonial park, UK
working with slippery fabrics on 01/06/2010 14:51:45 MST Print View

Not had much experiance sewing, made a couple of tarps and packs made of spinnaker and sil nylon, but i found to get my seams straight i used a flat fold seam and ran an iron over each fold on a light heat, perfect seam, held in place with less pins! i found it was a massivd help on long seams with the iron.

Edited by thedanwhalley on 01/06/2010 14:56:32 MST.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: working with slippery fabrics on 01/06/2010 20:01:00 MST Print View

Thanks Guys,

Will try a few suggestions on some scrap and see how I get on.

Also going to replace my 20 year old machine with something a little nicer. It generally works ok but the pedal is touchy, sometimes it drops a stitch and it weights a ton.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: working with slippery fabrics on 01/07/2010 02:46:52 MST Print View

> going to replace my 20 year old machine
Just check that the modern machine can sew what the older one can handle. My old (antique) black Singer walks all over modern machines for pack fabrics. And it still sews silk OK.


Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Re: working with slippery fabrics on 01/07/2010 05:08:54 MST Print View

Thanks Roger,

I have a wish list for a new machine so I should have it covered.

The one I have seen can sew through webbing folded over several times and can also work with the fine stuff too.

Cheers again