North Shore and Central Auckland

Machine Embroidery
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Difficult Fabrics


Sewing with Difficult Fabrics

Whilst an overlocker is ideal for dealing with knits, stretch fabrics and for creating delicate rolled edges on finer fabrics there are a number of accessories available for your sewing machine that will help you to sew difficult fabrics, these include:

Non Stick Feet: (No 52 Zigzag, No 54 Zipper and No 56 Open Embroidery) The non-stick coating on these feet glides easily over difficult fabric, eliminating any drag of the foot moving across the surface. Ideal for sewing leather, plastic and vinyl Applications for this foot include sewing rainwear, luggage, tote bags, toys, home furnishings and garments.

Overlock Foot (No 2) This foot is equipped with a pin which acts in a similar manner as the stitch finger on an overlocker. When the pin is placed along the edge of the fabric, it reinforces the edge as the stitch forms, preventing tunnelling of the fabric. The right side of the sole is cut away so the stitched edge of the fabric can move smoothly under the foot without any unnecessary pulling or stretching.

Bulky Overlock Foot (No 12) One side of the foot is higher than the other to accommodate the uneven layers encountered when seaming sweater knits. The extra space under the foot helps prevent knit fabrics from stretching as they are stitched.

Jeans Foot (No 8) The single needle hole provides extra stability for the needle even as it crosses thick bulky areas. The narrow groove in the sole of the foot, behind the needle, allows heavy threads to pass under the foot, preventing skipped stitches when topstitching. This foot can be used with size 100 or 110 needle when sewing thick, dense fabrics (as when hemming jeans). This foot is uniquely designed to actively brace a size 100 or 110 needle and help prevent needle breakage when sewing through heavy layers. Jeans Foot #8 can also be used with a size 70 ballpoint needles to sew fine knit fabrics without puckering and wrinkling.

Dual Sole Walking Foot (No 50) has two interchangeable soles, one designed for sewing with difficult or slippery fabrics and one designed for quilting.

Roll and Shell Hemmer Foot (No 69) Use this foot to make a roll and shell hem 3-5mm wide, depending on the weight and texture of the fabric. On soft fabrics, this foot produces a shell effect. This foot is recommended for soft, light to medium weight fabrics. Other sizes are available.

Straight Stitch Plate promotes perfect stitch quality when working with very delicate fabrics such as fine batiste, silks, etc. The small needle hole provides fabric support all around the needle as the stitch is formed, preventing distortion in delicate fabrics. Use in combination with Foot #13 (straight stitch foot) when maximum fabric control is required.

Buttonhole Compensation Attachment is designed to work with Buttonhole Foot #3A on heavy or uneven fabrics such as chenille or corduroy. The foot clips into the attachment and lets the foot ride easily over the uneven fabric surface, resulting in beautiful buttonholes on the most difficult of fabrics. Also great for multi-layers areas such as making buttonholes in quilted garments.

Stabilisers: Can assist with sewing performance by reinforcing underneath the fabric. Stabilisers are available in various weights and types e.g. woven, non-woven (bonded fibers with no grain) knitted, fusible and non fusible. Match weight and finish with type of fabric being sewn. Bring a sample of your fabric and we will help you choose the most appropriate one. Always test before trying out on your garment.

Other helpful products:

  • Temporary Spray such as 505
  • Cotton Tape, which can be applied through the foot of an overlocker
  • Fabric Glue
  • Sew Perfect (Spray Starch)
  • Fray Stop
  • Awls – to help push fabric under

Needles: Always choose the right needle for the type of fabric you are sewing. The general rule is to use a fine needle for finer fabrics and a heavier needle for thicker, heavier fabrics.

  • Sharp point needles (jeans/denim or top stitch) are suitable for woven fabric or knits with an open lose texture
  • Ballpoint needles are more rounded (blunt) and so are good for knits as they push the yarns aside rather than pierce them
  • Universal are modified ball point needles and can be used on many woven and knitted fabrics but if a universal needle snags your fabric change to a ballpoint needle
  • In addition you can choose Stretch or Microtex needles, designed for sewing and embroidery on microfiber fabrics (rayon, polyester) and fine silks

Using a finer thread like Metrolene for finer fabrics will also give you a better result.

Working with Knits: Use a stitch with a certain amount of give so that the seams do not distort the fabric. 3-step zigzag is a good choice. Be careful not to break the fibers as this can create “ladders” or holes in knit fabric. Stretch fabric as you sew it to build elasticity into the seam.

Buttonholes on Stretch Fabric: Position the buttonhole lengthways along the least stretchy side.

Working with Sheer & Silky Fabric: Skipped stitches can be common. This can be minimized by prewashing the fabric, stitching slowly, using a straight stitch plate. Changing the needle regularly will prevent puckering and snagging. You can also adjust the pressure regulator. Edges can be finished with bias binding.

A few other fabric tips:

  • Sequined Fabric: Immediately after cutting out garment sections, stay stitch to reduce sequin loss. Sew with sequined side up to prevent the feed dogs catching the fabric. Remove sequins from seam allowance and save for filling in any gaps after the garment has been constructed
  • Organza: Use a fine needle and avoid topstitching as this can cause the fabric to curl
  • Taffeta: Will fray easily so back with a strong fabric to prevent split seams and neaten raw edges
  • Lurex: Pink or apply Fray stop to edges
  • Net or Mesh: Sew with fine zig zag
  • Transparent fabric: Use narrow, inconspicuous seams

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