Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sewing Knits With A Twin Needle...The Unofficial Tutorial

Friends, it has been all over the sewing blogosphere lately that people are having problems using a twin needle with knits.

The stitches look wonky, but I promise they aren't!

I too was having this problem until very recently when I read my manual, and my child read the back of the needle package and told me I was doing it wrong (thank goodness for little boys that read everything they can get their hands on and love to prove Mommy wrong...I think!).  After much research and combing blogs and YouTube, this is what I have come to learn.  I hope that these tips will be helpful for some of you as well.

This first one is one that I have always known, but I guess a lot of people didn't realize.  You don't need two rolls of the thread you are going to be using.  Simply wind a bobbin with your thread color and use that as your second roll.

Your rolls of thread should be spooling in opposite directions.  So if the thread you are using for the left eye is unrolling clockwise, then the spool you are using for the right eye should unroll counter clockwise.

If your machine does not have a second spool holder, you have two options.  You can either thread your spool and bobbin on one holder or you can use the peg that is for winding bobbins for your second holder.  The choice is yours, just see which gives you a better look.

On some but not all machines you can see the pressure plates that give your upper thread tension.  If you can see these and manage it, you should thread your left thread to the left of the pressure plates, and your right thread to the right of the pressure plates.  I don't have a picture of this as my machine isn't made so that I can see the pressure plates.

If your machine has a twin needle setting make sure to select it.  It does some kind of adjusting of tension, though I can not see a real difference on my machine if I do or don't select this feature.

This next tip is probably one of the biggest mistakes most of us are making.  When you thread the needle, thread the left needle through the thread holder/bar that is just above the needle.  When you thread the right needle, DO NOT thread it through the thread holder that is just above the needle.  I know...shocking, right?  This is supposed to really help with the tunneling effect that can sometimes happen when we are sewing knits with a twin needle.

Some people like to prepare their fabric with knit stay tape.  I especially recommend this if you are using a lighter knit, but really find it to be an unnecessary step with heavier knits.  With this t-shirt weight knit I just pressed the hem under an inch.

One good thing that knit stay tape does do though is give you a line to follow since you can't see where the fabric ends since you are stitching on the right side of the fabric.  Since I know that my hem is pressed under an inch, I know that if I line my fabric up at the inch mark, then the two needles will fall on either side of the hem/raw edge.

Make sure that you are not stretching the fabric as you sew it.  This will lead to upper loops that rise up from the fabric.  Just let the feed dogs do their magic, and while you are at it, slow down.  Sewing fast is not going to be helpful here.  I usually line my index finger of my right hand up with whichever measurement guide I need to be at and let that be the only thing that guides my fabric through the machine.

Your goal with the double needle is to straddle the cut edge of the fabric so that one line of stitching is above the actual raw edge and one line is below, thus encasing your raw edge.

See how the upper threads get pulled to the underside, and the bobbin thread ends up making a zig zag between the upper threads?  That is what gives the twin needle stitch it's ability to stretch with stretchy fabrics.

Finally, make sure to spread your stitch out some.  I prefer a stitch setting of 3.0 for twin needle stitching on knits.  I also end with a back and forth stitch so that I don't have to tie off the ends, but that is just my preference because it seems that when I try to tie them off, I manage to tie too tightly and mess up the stitches and cause puckering.

I hope that you find these tips helpful.  Please feel free to comment with any additional tips that any of you might have.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

When Life Gives You A Wadder - Simplicity 1356

Friends, this tale starts with two sets of sheets I found on clearance at Target for $5.08.  Extra long twin sheets which yield about 6 yards of good usable fabric...woot woot!

The label on back of the package said they were a cotton rayon blend, and they had a great hand, so I figured I loved the prints, so why not.  Why not, indeed!  Upon opening the sheets they were in fact 100% polyester, and at that point I should have decided to save them for bright and colorful lining for a future project.  How did I overlook the whole Microfiber nomer on the front of the package?

Instead I charged right ahead in to making them in to Simplicity 1356.  Simplicity 1356 is supposed to be a reversible dress, but I intended to make it in to more of a tunic length (imagine that).

This is what I ended up with...I HATE it!

He says, "Try to look happy."  She says, "I can't look happy wearing this!"

He says, "Show me the other side."  She says, "You are about to see my other side!"

I was standing with my hips shifted, the hem is straight, though not really a hem.  I should have taken a sway back adjustment.

He says, "I like this side much better."  She says, "Grrrrr!"

He says, "Show me the lining and try to look happier."  She says, "GRRRRRRR!"

Needless to say, this pattern is not going on my list of favorites.  I worked hard to take this from a size 22 up to my measurements.  Simplicity 1356 just isn't the pattern for me.  I am not big on the whole saying a pattern is or isn't flattering, but this one is doing nothing for me, or my self confidence!  If I do hold on to it, it will be only to use it as a garden apron.

Friends, please tell me your sewing has gone better than mine this week!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The End of the Fluff...Onward Sew!

Friends, as I looked back over my blog for the last few months, I realize that I have been feeding you a lot of fluff.  Well...the fluff ends here.

Deadlines had been dragging me down.  First there was sewing cruise wear (which I didn't blog a whole lot of), and then I had to make a Frontiersman costume for my son, because apparently second grade research projects are intended to torture parents just as much as they do the kids.

Now, with a clean slate I feel like I can start to create again.

So without further ado, here is my latest sew or refashion as it may be.

This shirt is very typical of what you would see me wearing out and about during the warmer days of Spring and Summer.  I own a few RTW shirts in similar styles.  Would you call this a pillowcase tunic, maybe?

As I mentioned before this is a refashion.  Here is what I started out with.

When I saw this dress at the Salvation Army last Fall, I loved the print.  Purples and aquas are my favorite colors.  I also really liked the pin tuck detail on the front of the dress.  Throw in the fact that it was only 99 cents, and it was a no brainer.  I knew that I could do something with it.

So when I was looking for a refashion to get me out of my sewing slump, and I came across this in the pile, I knew it was just what I needed to get me out of my funk.

It took some seam ripping, and the removal of a zipper.

I also removed the sleeves, and cut seven inches off of the bottom of the dress.  I biased bound the new arm holes, and cut the shoulder seams out.  The collar edges were trimmed and serged, and then folded in an inch and sewn to create two tunnels for the tie fabric to thread through.

I finally used my rolled hem foot to create a rolled hem all the way around the bottom of the tunic.  I cut the tunic a little long because I suspect that I may belt it sometimes when I wear it, and I wanted to make sure there was enough ease there that everything that I want to keep covered stays that way.

Here are some more pictures of the tunic.  I really am pleased with it, and it makes me look forward to warm bright sunshiny days ahead.

I am completely in love with how the pin tucks added interest to this tunic.  They hug the bosom just right.  With the mix of colors and style of the tunic it is almost Bohemian meets Caribbean.

You don't tend to see a whole lot of plus size refashions online, but I hope that this one might encourage some of you to give refashioning a try.  This dress wasn't even my size (RTW 22 and I am easily a 24/26), but the print just made me feel happy, and the rayon that it is made of had a great hand, so I knew there was something great hiding inside!

Friends, I say head out, hit a thrift store, and come home and make something beautiful.  Am I the only plus size refashioner out there?

Monday, March 2, 2015

And the Winner Is....

Friends, sorry I am running a few hours late getting this posted.  There is just a whole lot of life happening here.

Without further ado, the winner as generated by random.org (there were 24 original commenters) is:

Congratulations to Commenter #8, mlhummy!

Mlhummy, since your profile was not connected to an email address, you have until Wednesday at 12:00 pm EST to contact me at pandorasews at gmail dot com with your mailing address.  If I don't hear from you by then another poster with be selected!