How to sew with Polyester

Solutions to problems in sewing with polyester fabric like puckering, wavy seams, and snags. Learn expert tips to tackle the slippery nature of polyester and achieve flawless stitches every time.
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Personally, I avoid Polyester fabric for clothes because it makes me sweat. And then it makes me feel downright unpleasant unless I change out of it. However, sewing polyester is unavoidable in today’s times.

polyester fabric

Polyester is one of the most frequently seen material in retail shops, and there is no escaping from it. When you want to make dancewear or activewear, what do you get as an option but polyester spandex? When you want to buy an inexpensive fabric for bedsheets or curtains, what do you get? Again polyester! When you are looking for a shiny, fluid gown material you are given poly crepe, poly charmeuse, polyester satin, and polyester dupioni as choices.

So would you buy polyester to sew? And even if you buy it, how would you go about sewing with it?

If you’re used to sewing natural materials like cotton or silk, you’ll find polyester behaves a little differently under the sewing machine. I have sewn with polyester – because it is cheap. You get it everywhere, as 100% polyester, or as blends with other textile fibers.

And I have a good sewing machine. Which is important. It doesnot suck in thin fabrics.

And the settings are important too. A good sewing machine and appropriate settings and accessories can significantly impact how well polyester fabric feeds, reducing problems like thread bunching.

sewing machine setting 2.5 stitch length

Sewing machine settings for sewing Polyester.

FactorsSewing settings for Polyester
Needle TypeUniversal needle for sewing woven polyester fabrics. Use size 11/75 for thin fabrics like poly-charmuese or poly-spandex blends. For thicker polyester use 80/12 size needles. Microtex needle can also be used.
Use only Ballpoint needles for knits.
ThreadPolyester thread or Poly-cotton thread
Seam FinishCut edges of thin polyester fabrics fray a lot. Finish edges with zig zag. Or use a french seam. A 2 or 3-thread serged finish is best if you have a serger.
Stitch typeMedium length (2.5mm) straight stitch; For stretchy polyester use small zigzag stitch of length 2.5 mm and width 2mm
Pre-treatmentPrewash in cold water. Do not press during sewing with high heat. Polyester will melt.
InterfacingUse very lightweight interfacing
polyester thread

Though polyester doesnot breath well and makes me feel hot faster than with others like cotton, I would buy a blend of polyester if the natural fibers are more in it. Like a 90 -10 cotton poly blend – this will be better than 100% cotton and definitely better than full poly fabric. This is because the blended fabric combines the goodness of both fibers.

The poly blends can be used to make clothes which do not need much care and attention. They are easy to wash, and iron – infact, no need to even iron.

One nice blend that is widely used in fast fashion for making clothing is a rayon/polyester blend.

And when blended with spandex, there is added stretch and flexibility. This makes it easier to sew form-fitting garments

Another advantage of sewing with polyester is the drape some of these materials have. And Polyester yarn is strong and holds color well – all seemingly good for sewing clothes.

The drape of the fluid polyesters like polyester charmeuse and polyester crepe makes it very nice to make bias cut gowns.

But cutting the fabric requires special care. You have to leave a lot of seam allowance. You should buy extra fabric to account for these, as well as the orientation of the garment.

Common problems in sewing with polyester

Puckering or bunching up of fabric

Use polyester or polyester blend thread only to sew polyester fabrics.

If the problem still persists, Try a different stitch length than the one you are using. Use a shorter stitch length for delicate fabrics.

Stabilize the fabric, especially if it is stretchy or lightweight.

If the thread tension is too high, it can also cause the fabric to pucker.

Maybe the presser foot pressure is too high – if you can adjust this in your machine, do so.

Slippery nature of polyester

Polyester is made of a type of plastic called Polyethylene terephthalate. It influences durability but can make sewing challenging due to its slippery texture.

A walking foot can help feed the slippery fabric evenly

Wavy nature of seams

Polyester fabric can get wavy seams if it is not properly stabilized. If you get wavy seams, unpick the stitching and then use a stabilizer. Use a strip of stabilizing material, like interfacing or stay tape, on the seam.

If you do not want interfacing to stay on the fabric, you can use a tear-away stabilizer (temporary stabilizer) and tear it away after the stitching is complete for medium to thick polyesters. But this is not advisable on thin delicate polyester materials. Use a very light weight tricot interfacing.

And remember to sew at a slow speed.

Staystitching is prefered.

Snags on the fabric

It’s often recommended to use a ballpoint for polyester knits and universal needle for polyester wovens. Microtex needles are sharp and precise, making it another good option, so you will get clean, straight stitches.These types of needles are less likely to snag or damage the fabric as you sew.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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