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What is Tulle? What is Netting?
You’ll find lots of varying definitions for tulle and netting around the internet and on different fabric websites. The most important unifying factor amongst all tulles and nettings is that they are loosely woven, so that you can see through them to some degree. Some are stiff, some are soft, some stretch, some do not; they all present their own challenges.
Today, we’ll deal with a specific type of netting that crossed our path when Zede altered a wedding dress for one of her aerial friends. It is a lightweight semi-stretchy netting that comprised three successively fuller layers of her skirt (over a lining and under-lining of course). This fabric was diaphanous, gorgeous, and the varying fullness of the layers gave a beautiful effect- but it also made the skirt hard to hem!
How to Hem Tulle and Netting
Most of the time, if your tulle or netting has enough body, you can hang the dress and cut the layers with scissors. It’s a little intimidating, but with accurate markings, simply cutting the excess fabric does the trick- tulles and nettings generally are not “hemmed” with any kind of stitch, since they don’t fray.
Zede and I are always advocating for rotary cutters, but this is one instance where Zede normally uses scissors, and we were thrilled to show off this technique in a Zig Zag Live Broadcast.
But then, this dress threw a wrench into our game.
This netting was more flexible and had a slight stretch, so the normal process of hanging and cutting with scissors (in the air) was yielding some jagged-y ragged-y results that were just not going to fly! We knew we needed to use a rotary cutter to get a smooth result.
So, we moved our operation to the cutting table! Zig Zag members get the full scoop on how we fitted, marked and hemmed this dress, but we’d like to share one part of the process with everyone!
Correcting Course When Cutting Netting
We defined our cutting lines, and then we used a “special tool” to evenly cut the hem of the dress- dark green printer paper!
(We used to run a sewing store, and all of our price lists were color coded- I think we have 20 years of paper now in our home studio, so bring on the dresses! Not really, keep your wedding dresses far away- I have the number of someone to call!)
The dark green paper not only provided a better way to visualize the layers of tulle, but it prevented the very fine, slightly stretchy fabric from becoming embedded in our cutting table as we cut.
Will Cutting Paper Dull Your Rotary Cutter?
Everything dulls your rotary cutter. We cut everything with our rotary cutters; paper, fabric, fabric with sequins, carpet, you name it! We change the blade or sharpen it when it gets dull- blades do not and should not last forever!
Why Not Use Scissors on the Cutting Table When Cutting Tulle or Netting?
As you see in the video, using scissors can cause you to distort your fabric. Now, we know that some of you only like to use shears and that you’re professionals with them. But Zede and I use our rotary cutters whenever we can, and this is one of the reasons; you must lift the fabric a bit when cutting with scissors- not so with the rotary cutter!
One thing we don’t show in the video is how we cut a long continuous line. Well, we literally just laid the paper along the hem and kept reusing the resulting strips of paper. I think we used maybe 3-4 sheets of paper for 3 layers of this dress- not bad!