5 Top Tips For Sewing With Black Fabric

Black fabrics

The changing seasons and a need for more work attire have put me in the mood for sewing with black. There’s only one problem. The shorter days mean I’m often working by artificial light and squinting at my sewing. Here are my 5 Top Tips for Sewing With Black Fabric!

Top Tip 5 – Prep In The Evening

black thread

If light isn’t on your side, do all the prep work in the evening. Wash and dry your fabric. Change the needle in your machine. Prepare a couple of bobbins of thread. Heck, you could even give your sewing machine a clean.

Top Tip 4 – Cut Out In Daylight

I’d suggest saving the cutting out for daylight hours. This is when you’ll want to carefully keep an eye out for any flaws and ensure that you’re confident of the right or wrong side of your fabric. If in doubt, add a mark to the wrong side of your fabric. I recommend this White Wax Tailor’s Chalk that melts away under the heat of an iron.

marking black fabric

Top Tip 3 – Good Lighting

My home has filled with lamps of every shape and variety since I began sewing. If you’re going to sew with black fabric in the evening, make sure you have a good light source.

Desk lamp


Top Tip 2 – Have A Lint Roller To Hand

You are going to pick up every stray dog hair, speck of dust and random thread in your half of the hemisphere. Failing a lint roller, I wrap sellotape around my hand, sticky side facing out, and use that.

Top Tip 1 – Buy A Head Torch!

Strange but true. A head torch can be the Sewist’s friend, aiming a single beam of light right at the area you’re working on.

Do you have any tips for sewing with black fabric? It’s worth spending time on makes in solid colours. You’ll pull these items out of your wardrobe time and again.

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30 Responses to 5 Top Tips For Sewing With Black Fabric

  1. This post is so timely! Most of my sewing ends up being at night AND of course I love sewing black things. Sewing black at night really sucks if you don’t have great lighting or haven’t marked the wrong sides on all the pieces. I remember having to sew a gored skirt for class and when I got up the morning, I only then realised that the yoked waistband was the wrong side, while the panels were all right side.

  2. aligoll says:

    Great tips, never thought of a head torch! I have that same black bambi fabric, just about to cut it out for a top.

  3. Jen (NY) says:

    That about covers it, I think. If I’m going to be sewing at night, I also try to pin the pieces together during the day, to the extent that is possible. That speeds things up and also prevents me from sewing the wrong sides together, or mistaking similar looking pieces or attachment points. I also try to do fitting during the day because despite the lighting, it still seems difficult to see the drape of black fabric at night. Or maybe I just need more lamps!

  4. JaneyB says:

    Head torch! Brilliant idea!

  5. PsychicKathleen says:

    This was a timely piece of helpful advice for me too! I’m just beginning work on a pair of knit black pants and you’re right black is one of the hardest colours to work with – black thread on black material is a nightmare. Someone recommended not only a head light but maybe one of those head magnifying glasses – I’ve been considering one especially when sewing black on black. I’m 60 years old and very myopic 🙂 so I do need all the help I can get. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  6. lyndelou says:

    Do you use a day light simulation bulb in your work lamp? I find that useful.

  7. lisa g says:

    A tip I picked up somewhere is to use navy thread when sewing with black fabric (except for top stitching, of course). The reason is, if you need to unpick a seam it’s much easier to see, but won’t be noticeable from the outside!

  8. Renita says:

    The best thing you can do for your eyes when sewing black is to use an OTT Light. It is a daylight lite that makes the black stitches 3-D–they really pop. You can get it at most chain fabric or craft stores.

  9. Michelle says:

    I never thought of using a head torch. That’s an awesome tip! We’ve recently moved and now my sewing area is stuck in the back of our home where there is almost no light. Even a couple lamps isn’t doing it – during daytime either. I will definitely be looking to buy one.

  10. Melody Lema says:

    I use those little tiny post it notes, and I put them on the wrong side of every piece. The ones that advertise that they have stronger adhesive normally won’t fall off, but if I have to pin. I pin them in the seam allowance. This helps me sew at night, a habit started over 45 years ago, when my babies slept.

  11. francescapia says:

    I don’t have a problem with light, Malta’s sunny most of the time. And I’m bored with black, used to wear so much before I took up sewing again as that was most of the work stuff I used to buy… but I still sew dark colours sometimes, and wear them, and suffer from cat hair magnet syndrome! My tip is NOT to use a lint roller but a little brush like the Lillybrush (which I find brilliant) – because anything sticky leaves a slight deposit which makes your clothes sticky so they attract even more. I read this a while back and now only use lint rollers on something I’ll be washing, no jackets or coats.

  12. Thimberlina says:

    Fab tips! I don’t own a head torch but when I need extra light I have been known to use the torch on my iPhone and wedge it into my bra!

  13. That fabric is gorgeous, think I’ll pay a trip to Saeeds. I was have the same problem sewing with white fabric yesterday evening. I couldn’t see my stitches.

  14. Oooh that press off chalk sounds great – am going to try it!

  15. Hehe love these tips! Must invest in a head torch 🙂 x

  16. Linda says:

    Great tips! Love the idea of a head torch!!

  17. Great tips, love the head torch idea!! I know a couple of ladies who have added lights to their machines using tape, I keep meaning to use a day light bulb to brighten up my sewing space.

  18. Cathy Luff says:

    Whenever I use Post-it notes, even the extra sticky ones, they inevitably fall off at the most inopportune times. Instead, as I’m cutting each fabric piece, I make a huge X in the wrong side of each piece with tailor’s chalk. Never any doubt about the wrong side. I always do this with fabrics that don’t have obvious right and wrong sides because using some “right” and some “wrong” sides in a garment results in shading differences that aren’t always noticeable until the pieces are assembled.

  19. fabrickated says:

    I never knew what wax “chalk” was for. Now I know. Thanks.

  20. LinB says:

    I use a sliver of white soap instead of chalk! It has a sharpish edge like the chalk, shows up beautifully on dark fabrics, and I find that it stays put on my fabric longer than does chalk. A wee bit of water to dampen a clean rag or sponge (or some spit on your finger if you are not squeamish) takes it right out when you don’t need the marking anymore. (Plus, this solves my dislike of just throwing away what is still a perfectly good sliver of soap, without going all “great-grandmother” and boiling them down with some water to make soap balls that no one ever uses either. When the sliver finally cracks and breaks into tiny chunks, I happily toss them out. Or put them into sachets. Or toss them in a box with paper patterns to discourage silverfish.)

  21. I love the head torch idea. I will look for one tomorrow. As my eyesight is not quite what it used to be. I have found myself marking everything on the wrong side these days. If it is a very difficult seam to sew I sometimes draw in the stitching line in fine chalk pencil first so I can see it better. Xx

  22. Simona says:

    I Do love the idea of a head torch! Do you have one? How do you find using it?

  23. Rhonda says:

    I have found my magnifier light invaluable for picking stitches on black fabric. I can aim the light wherever I need it and the magnification is just right to see the thread.

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