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Ministry of Craft Blog

    Monday, July 10, 2017

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    Sewing Hems in Stretch


    Sewing Hems in Stretch

    My next project is to make a couple of exercise tops using a knit/stretch fabric. My trusty overlocker is great for sewing up the main seams but there’s one aspect of sewing knits that overlockers can’t easily do—hem the finished garment edges.

    If you hem with an ordinary straight stitch, the hem is likely to roll up in some fabrics and there will be no elasticity. A zigzag stitch will be somewhat elastic, meaning you can put on your top without popping the seam but it still may roll up.

    In industry, a coverstitch machine is used which will produce a professional looking hem that looks like two rows of stitching on the top and a overlock like stitch on the back. The benefit of a coverstitch is its stretch ability and the covering of the raw edge all in one pass.

    If you do sew a lot of knits, a domestic coverstitch machine is available to get the same result but there is an expensive price tag attached to it.

    The other option is to use a twin needle, which will be a lot cheaper and take up less room! If you get it right it’ll look neat, professional and it’ll be elastic enough that no stitches will ever break and the stitches will give the hem enough weight that it won’t roll. However, it can be a very frustrating and time consuming job to get the hem to look just right without tunnelling (the fabric between the two rows twin needle stitching raises up, creating a little mountain between the stitches)– and still have it be elastic.

    The threading of a twin needle varies a lot from machine to machine so you will have to consult your manual.

    If you don’t have two matching spools of thread, wind an additional bobbin to use.

    Your presser foot may be stretching the fabric as it stitches; resulting in wavy hems so if you are able, try loosening the presser foot pressure

    Experiment to find out which tension setting and stitch length matches the fabric and thread you are using. A slightly longer stitch length of about 3 usually works better

    Fusing stretch interfacing to the wrong side of the hem before stitching will also help to give a professional looking finish.

    If you have an overlocker, you can overlock along the raw edge before turning up the hem so the underside looks like more like a professionally coverstitched hem.

    That's the hem sorted, now onto making the exercise tops!




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