(I’m late tonight, I am sorry! Youtube decided to take 320 minutes to upload 2 minutes of footage for some reason.)
In tonight’s circus, we have three rings: Threads, Stitches and Feet used in knit garment construction! This is a step up from the Beginner’s Chat.
As in the previous Knit Stabilizer portion of The Circus, rather than simply telling you my preferences for sewing knits, I tested the feet and documented my results so you can judge how the feet handle my fabric. The test fabric tonight is a very mischievous but gorgeous and comfy linen jersey. It felt like cheating to use a well-behaved interlock. Please try these yourself, I’d love to see how it works for you.
But first- a very short word on threads used to sew knit fabrics:
Ring 1: Threads
Threads play the opening act tonight- not the main event, but worth mentioning. Construction threads are the ones used in the sewing machine to stitch the construction seams. I strongly suggest not buying cheap anonymous multi-colored packs of thread so often seen in big box sewing shops. Thread creates the seam, the very little bit of fiber that binds the fabric together to make a garment. Don’t cheap out. It’s just not worth it in the long run.
Wooly nylon thread is often used in the lower looper of an overlocker/serger and sometimes in the bobbin. (Insert teaser for an upcoming act) It’s soft, and “expandy” meaning it has a great deal of stretch. Up close, it’s- wooly. Nifty unrelated tip: it works great for rolled hems on delicate fabric of most types, the “thick” quality of the thread fills in little gaps in the stitching.
Serging/Overlocking thread is usually used 3, 4, or 5 threads together. To create a lighter thread, they are spun finer and often of lower quality fibers. This works out well as long as the threads are used 3, 4, or 5 together- it is not a good idea to put serger/overlocking thread into a domestic sewing machine.
Ring 2- Stitches!
I mentioned the lightning bolt stitch and the triple-stitch zig zag in the Knit Beginner’s Chat. Sewing machines create two other types of stitches commonly used to sew knits- a top-stitch and an overlocking/serging stitch.
I am using a Janome 4900. Some feet and stitches shown may vary brand to brand.
This video is a quick demonstration of how I stitch a nice even line of top-stitching along a seam. A regular straight stitch with a length of 3.0 works well as a top-stitch. I don’t find they pop, I usually top stitch any seams I want to secure in place through wash and wear. I don’t always top-stitch but when I do, I generally top-stitch the shoulder seam and any binding seams.
I have two overlocking/serging feet that came with my machine. Several stitches are designed to be used with these feet. It’s an interesting idea, and works best with dense or heavy wovens. They chew my knits more often than not. The other overlocking foot is documented here.
Honestly, I barely use the overlocking feet. I have an overlocker which creates a quick, clean finish. When I want to use another finish to stabilize a knit seam, I use a reliable old triple-stitch zig-zag. But in the name of science, I thought I’d mention them.
Ring 3: Oh How Many, Many Feet You Meet
I like feet. Some of them revolutionize my sewing process. Some of them aren’t worth their weight in tin. Keeping in mind my new-to-sewing best friend (and other newbies) who are reading, I’ll just quickly label a few feet that are often used / marketed to sew knits. If you have another to add, please leave a comment.
Most machine have feet that look like this for regular sewing. The foot on the bottom (F Foot) is intended for use with fancy stitches because the “toes” of the feet are wider so as not to disturb the embroidery. The entire foot is clear to aid visibility.
These are the two overlocking feet I used in the videos above. I want to like them, and I do like them for dense, heavy or thick wovens. However, they’re usually pretty bad at finishing delicate seams or any but the stablest knits. (I’d love to see some other experiments!)
Feed dogs pull the fabric through the sewing machine. A walking foot places feed dogs above the sewing, too, allowing for an even feed of slippery or bulky seams. Check it out in action:
I stitched a regular lightning-bolt stitch seam on lightweight linen jersey. Like I said, it doesn’t want to behave. After that, I stitched another seam from a scrap of the seam jersey cut to the same length using a regular sewing foot. Then I stitched a third identical sample seam using a regular foot and the lightning bolt stitch, but I released the presser foot pressure. That’s the pressure that pushes the presser foot into the fabric, and releasing it to its lowest setting for lightweight or heavy/bulky fabrics works wonders.
I know many knit sewing resources bid us to sew our seams with a walking foot to prevent rippling, but I don’t find that it does prevent rippling. Releasing the pressure on the presser foot does seem to prevent rippling. I’d be fascinated to see other “experiments” comparing the three types. (Psst- using paper as a stabilizer beneath the stitches works well, too!)
Of course, for many construction seams this hardly matters, because the seam will stretch as you wear it.
Tomorrow: Time Trials for Seam Finishes and Overlockers/Coverhem Guide. Do you need one? What’s differential feed? Can I make a useful buyer’s checklist to help you get the best match machine if you decide to go shopping? Why yes, yes I can.
Thank you SO much for supporting the Tiramisu Pre-Sale. We’re at nearly 300 Tiramisus! I’m so thrilled! If you’d like to pre-order one for your own, please visit my Etsy shop. Pre-sale closes October 5th, Local.
Also, be sure to enter the Red Stripe And Red Spot Tiramisu Jersey Giveaway! I decided to randomly give away 3m of red-striped jersey, and added 3m of a red polka-dot! Ends on Friday, October 5th!
What do you think? Questions? I’m really interested to hear other experiences with these threads, feet, and stitches so let me know what’s up…