Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stretch Issues

It's funny....I've gotten so many "ooohs" and "ahhhs" because I've been sewing knits. Honestly, I never knew this was "no mans land" to so many! I just DID it, probably because I didn't know any better! I  used zig zag stitch, and bam- done! No need to finish the seams- LOVE IT. Fit is also easier with knits I think.  I really never had any problems until the recent ITY Stretch Jersey dress (see last post!)!
In hindsight, I do really love it, BUT...it did kinda kick my butt.

Here's the nitty gritty, if you care. If not, see you next post ;)

I DID use Zig Zag stitch on the inside (see pic below) seams, since they wouldn't show, but didn't want to zig zag the hems, etc, since this pattern would show the seam and look ugly.

Since the ITY jersey is a lot thinner and stretchier than what I've sewn before, I read up on different stretch stitch options for the neckline and hems, and here's what I tried and the result:

1. Straight stitch (stretching fabrics I went)- This worked OKAY....and I was able to make it work for the sleeves, but it did pucker here and there (read, I ripped out the stitches and did them a few times) For some reason when I started on the longer seams, this method started giving me really uneven, wobbly stitches and then...EWWWWW- stitches got all gathered and puckery- yuck! I might just have been stretching too much or not enough, but I just couldn't figure it out. When I loosened the tension it was better, but the stitches didn't feel secure, so I got frustrated and tried something else.

2. Stretch stitches built into my machine- NOT GOOD. Got all bunched up, so I didn't even mess with them. Maybe I should read my sewing machine manual...he he he.

3. Double needle (after researching and taking a trip to the store to buy one!) : NOT BAD!!!!

To use the double needle, I put two spools of thread on my machine (both threads get threaded the same way, then one thread goes in one needle, the other thread in the other). It was daunting, but I got it right the first time! Whoohoo!

Here's how the stitches look....BUT- what do you notice? The raised ridge? Apparently this is called "tunneling" and boy did I get tunnels! They bug me! Who knows, I might have outfits in my closet with TUNNELS, but I didn't like them and don't want them!

I played with the tension and finally got it a little flatter...(oops, ignore the start, I had it on zig-zag!)

I also read to try some stabilizer underneath the stitch to keep the fabric from stretching, etc, and I did try this, but didn't notice much difference, so I stopped messing with it, and really, this dress has LOTS of LONG seams, and that just seemed like TOO MUCH WORK (have I mentioned I am a lazy sewer person) (I just can't call myself a seamstress)  Anyway, I just used the pin in kind of stabilizer and probably should have tried this a little more, but I didn't.

Sooooo- in a nutshell, I did end up using the double needle, and it isn't BAD, but the edges still want to roll a little. It's hard to see in a pic, but it's sort of annoying. When you wear a garment, it's annoying when the edges of the neckline keep rolling (where the wrong side of the hem is showing!) See pics below...

 ANYWAY- since finishing my dress, I've been reading about fusible hem tape and gotten some advice on different fusible tapes to try. I searched in my fabric store, but ended up ordering some off e-bay. So next time I sew ITY or stretch something or other,  I'll be ironing some fusible tape on the raw edges, THEN double stitching! I am hoping for a nice neat, non-stretched out hemline!
Stay tuned for that exciting post! :) :) :)

Thoughts? Tips? Ideas? 


  1. okay, you lost me at ITY, but you gave me some blog love, so I am here to support yours. In fact, I think you should have a giveaway to your 5th follower. Hmm, a cutey dress in size 3T will suffice :)
    Good luck with the contest!!!!!

  2. LOL! You are too funny! ITY is just like soft stretchy matte jersey fabric- you probably have some and don't even know it, I did! :) I am new to this craft/sewing blog business, but I'll keep you in mind for my first giveaway ;)

  3. I just read your review on your dress. It's really beautiful, and you look beautiful in it! What level music do you teach? My master's is in Kodaly, though I'm taking a break to stay at home with babies.

  4. Wow- another musical sewing peep! :) I teach college (intro to theory) right now, but I have my Master's in Voice and used to teach choir- middle/high! I am thinking about doing Elem next year and will probably use lots of Kodaly pedagogy if I get a job! :)

  5. I love theory! My poor kids...sometimes I'd geek out on them over harmonic structures in the middle of a lesson. I'm in awe of people who can teach middle schoolers. They scare me. But hanging out with wee ones all day singing and seeing them discover music--has to be the best thing ever, besides all the hugs.

    When you do get a job and if you're looking for books, I can send you a list of resources that I've used and love if you're interested.

  6. I'll throw out there that there's two fusibles that I really like for knit hems: steam a seam 2, and SewKeysE fusible tape. The steam a seam is really nice for lightweight fussy knits because it makes a nice crisp hem and gives a little bit of weight to the hem. The SewKeysE is nice for softer, heavier knits (I used some in a rayon garment).

    For construction, I use a narrow zigzag (2.5 length and .5 width)--it almost looks like a straight stitch, but it has more give in it. I also hand wind a spool of wooly nylon to use in the bobbin for hemming. Polyester sew-all thread always pops on me in the hems, but the wooly nylon is a bit more stretchy, so it makes a nice hem with some give. It's a bit annoying because it's not strong enough to wind by machine, so you have to hand-wind it, but I figure it gives me a good reason to watch old episodes of Fawlty Towers on Netflix.

  7. I'll definitely ask for your input if I get an elem job!!! :) I LIKED middle (I know, see, I am SEW crazy!) but I don't want the extra-curricular requirements right now....we'll see what happens! I like teaching college a lot, but it has it's disadvantages (benefits, $ stuff)

    Anyway- I actually ordered the Steam a Seam 2 stuff (I started a thread about it on the message board) but just haven't used it yet!!! Whoohoo! I am not sure I have the patience to hand-wind, but I'll keep that in mind too! Thanks! :)

  8. I made Simplicity 3775 and they have a neat way to finish the neckline that doesn't fold over - if you have that pattern it might be worth a look. I set my machine at a very small zig zig like emadethis does - it is better than a straight stitch and pulling! For the double needle - I loosen the bobbin tension just a bit and it seems to help with the tunneling. Also - there is a difference between jersey and stretch needles and I never can keep them straight, but there is a difference so you might want to try the other kind just to see what works better for you. My sister says that skipped stitches on long seams is sometimes caused by static electricity. You could try dabbing the thread every once in awhile with a damp q-tip to see if that breaks the static? I think your dress came out really nice - that ITY is tricky to sew with!
    Cheers! EvLouise