Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sewing Tip: Tear-Away Vilene Shields

Want to know what Vilene shields are? If you end up with necklines, armholes and waistbands stretching whilst you're handling/sewing your garment, a very unsightly mess, read on!

In sewing classes, sewing reference books etc we've all been told to stay-stitch these areas to secure them from stretching, works well some of the time. Here is a fabulous rag-trade tip that works much better for this problem.

Tear-Away Vilene is a non-fusible (soft paper like) interfacing, available in Black and White. In the fashion industry patterns usually come with vilene shield instructions for necklines, armholes and waistbands to be cut as well.

Instructions: After cutting your pattern out in your chosen fabric, you lay the neckline, armholes and waistbands onto the vilene, pinning it in place and cutting around your outer neck, waistline or armhole (only if it's sleeveless) edges and approx out 1" past this point, then you mark approx 1" down from this, these are your vilene shields. You end up with something like this.

In a dress I made recently in this very lovely, but soft and floppy rayon, having the vilene shields attached to the neckline, made it so much easier to handle when sewing on my neck bias binding

Pin in place and sew it (within the seam allowance) onto the wrong side of the neckline front and back, you can sew the shoulder seams together and after sewing on your neck facing/binding and just before you turn this over to the correct side you rip into the tear away to the seam line and tear it all away, what ever remains inside the seam can stay there and will be covered up by the binding or facing. It will also tear-away from the shoulder seams.

Vilene shields were also added around the waistline of some linen pants I've been making. 

After attaching the waistband facings and before turning the facings over, I tore off the vilene shields.

Simple and easy as that, you sew the vilene shields onto the wrong side the edges you want secured, after attaching your neck/armhole/waistband facings or bindings, the vilene then gets torn off. You will find you will have a neater edge with no stretching occurring around these edges, far more effective than stay stitching, don't you think?!!

NOTE: Ensure that you get the correct weight soft vilene, some thicker weights do not tear-away easily.


  1. Thanks for the great advice. Is there something similar for knit fabrics? - or is stay stitching still the best for knits?

    1. For a wider neckline on a knit (say a boat neck) stay stitching is great. As long the opening is wide enough and doesn't get stretched when pulling over the head, stay stitching will snap. There is a rubbery jelly tape ideal for necklines ans shoulder lines...look out for a tutorial on that next month!

  2. Do you think I could use Swedish tracing paper in place of Vilene (as I have this handy) ?

    1. I haven't seen Swedish Tracing paper. From the photos on the internet it looks very similar, do a test on a sample and see if it works, in particular check that the paper tears away easily without putting a strain on the fabric.

  3. It is also very useful when you want to sew in a zip into a stretchy fabric! :)

  4. Colette,

    Thanks for the tip. Sounds like great stuff-looks like I have to get some!

  5. Replies
    1. Hi Phyllis,
      Not sure who stocks it in the US but if you need to purchase some we sell it online.

      Then you can compare it to what's available near you. It's a similar weight to Vilene that is placed behind embroidery to stabalize the base fabric, but make sure that it's the correct weight that tears away easily.


Related Posts with Thumbnails
Copyright 2010 - Sew Tessuti Blog - Sewing Tips & Tutorials - New Fabrics, Pattern Reviews .Website Design by Jimmyweb.