Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

I couldn't find an appropriate picture for this post, so I'm substituting a cute picture of Oliver! I hope no one minds too much... ;)

Thank you so much to Summerset, Dawn, Debbie, Birdie, PhoebeGrant, LoisK and an anonymous commenter for talking back (even if it was ahead of time!) to my confession last Friday.

I admitted that I struggle with getting my cover stitch to line up nicely with the raw edge of my fabric on the inside of a garment – I usually have to trim away the excess fabric afterwards.

So, this topic brought about 100% consensus - everyone reported that this can, indeed, be tricky – mostly because, as Summerset pointed out, you can’t see the raw edge as you are stitching your hem.

While everyone agrees that it’s tricky, not everyone is equally OCD about it. For example, Dawn doesn’t stress out if it’s only off a smidge, and she and several others are okay with having to trim a little bit afterwards.

Other people go to more of an effort to get everything perfectly aligned from the beginning. Two main strategies were suggested.

Debbie, Birdie and PhoebeGrant all described in detail how they use careful measurements and make their own seam guides to help keep the fabric properly aligned. They did present some minor variations of the basic idea – but they all achieve the same good results!

Both Debbie and PhoebeGrant take measurements from the left needle to the bottom of the hem, and then attach something to serve as a guide for the folded edge of the fabric as they run the garment through the cover stitch machine (or serger). Debbie uses tape and PhoebeGrant uses something thicker – like cardboard or a stack of post-it notes. I got the feeling that Debbie may have her tape down such that the fabric mostly runs over it and PhoebeGrant puts her cardboard on the outside, so that her folded edge bumps up against it – but I may not have interpreted their comments correctly.

Instead of adding her own seam guide with tape or cardboard, Birdie uses the edge of her presser foot. She has found that the distance between the left needle and right edge of the presser foot is ¾ of an inch, so she irons her hems to 5/8ths of an inch and then uses the edge of the presser foot as her guide.

LoisK uses a second method – she folds over her hem and runs a quick hand-basted stitch 1/8th of an inch from the cut edge of the fabric (on the inside). Then she keeps this basting stitch centered between the two edges of the machine foot as she sews her cover stitch. In addition to keeping the cover stitch lined up nicely with the raw edge on the inside, it prevents rippling in the fabric (as the 2 layers are held together as they go through the machine) AND the basting stitch pulls out easily afterwards. Extra time – yes - but she loves how perfectly it works for her!

Finally, Summerset pointed out that it just takes practice. She used to do things like make seam guides and baste ahead of time, but now she’s done it so often that her fingertips just know how to guide the fabric through the machine in the right location.

I also asked if it would be likely to cause problems if my stitches fell off that raw edge and onto a single layer of fabric. Both Summerset and Dawn replied that you are likely to get a funny effect – tunneling or a ridge – due to the 2 needles going through different thicknesses of fabric. They both recommended erring on the side of needing to trim afterwards…

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to reply! I’m going to try your strategies and look forward to the time when it gets easier and I get better with practice! ;)