handy with a sewing machine.

Question directed to those who are really good with sewing machines and sergers.

I got a very fine woman's cashmere sweater to repair that had an eyelet seam (seam attached every inch or so...the tension created little elipses along the seam so whatever beneath it would show as an accent). Lovely idea, but didn't work on this very fine, very soft cashmere: At areas of tension, (the back of the neck and shoulders, particularly) the yarn tore, reluting in huge holes right on the seam. My solution was to turn the eyelet seam into a traditional seam, which I WOULD have done on my serger, but that would be more bulky than I wanted, AND my serger tends to stretch knit seams. I would have done a straight stitch on my sewing machine, but that tends to have no elasticity. I ended up doing a backstitch seam BY hand (surprisingly fun to do, actually) on the entire thing. It looks great and took less time than I expected considering how many TINY backstitches I had to do, but my question is.. is there a way to do serger hems without them stretching the fabric (outside of using interfacing) and is there a straight stitch with elasticity? Any sewing gurus out there?


Bill's picture

serger seam...it helps if you do a straight stitch seam with a sewing machine, as a stabilizer...then serge over that.

...but my preference is to use a very small zigzag seam...that has stretch.

grandcarriage's picture

Thanks for the suggestion on the sewing machine straight stitch. I've been hand basting before I serge...There's no reason why I couldn't machine baste it. Excellent suggestion.

Bill's right - anything with the slightest stretch needs to be sewn with a zigzag stitch.

jessemkahn's picture

zigzig is where it's at. some machines even have a combination overcast and zigzag stitch which can help prevent unraveling as well as provide some stretch.

negativitysucks's picture

My Bernina comes with a stretch stitch, which is a modified zigzag, and I find it works very well on all stretch fabrics. I have not had such luck with my serger, where everything stretchy comes out looking like curly leaf lettuce :-(

QueerJoe's picture

I know quite a few quilters and sewers and every time I read something that starts with "My Bernina", I am always incredibly ENVIOUS! One of these days I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and put out for one of these beauties.

HuskerChub's picture

Well...Bernina people are very loyal, almost to a fault. I too was a Bernina cultist until I was hired to work as a repairman for a Bernina dealer. The OLD Berninas... 1130 and before are dream machines. Anything after, the quality of build and the quality of the stitching is inferior. If you want a true workhorse that does a limited number of fancy stitches but is a great simple straight stitch/zigzag machine you cannot beat an 830! Don't be fooled either by the recycling of numbers that Bernina is doing. You want a the 830 that was metal, weights about 70 lbs and is an ugly red hard plastic case. I just checked ebay and they are going anywhere from $250-$850 depending on the extras etc. Not a cheep machine but well worth the money.

Bill's picture

my next door neighbor was the Bernina dealer...back in the 70's...so my 830 was adapted to an industrial motor...(they just changed one part to a stronger one)...and it sews beautifully...believe me, with the weird stuff I sew for costumes...it's a marvelous machine!
You're right... the newer ones are no better than middle quality machines.

Bill's picture

I've had my Bernina 830 for fourty years!
...sews canvas and chiffon...I have several other machines as well...Singer Featherweight, SingerXL1000 computer embroidery machine, 1970 vintage Necchi...
but the Bernina tops them all...
Look for an OLD reconditioned Bernina...there are a lot out there...better than the expensive new ones.
There are Bernina groups on line that can help...

grandcarriage's picture

Thanks to the guys who posted about the zigzag... Unfortunately, I can't use it on this, as the fabric is very fine, and a zigzag, even a small one, would wander over several stitches and the seam would look uneven from the right side. Thanks anyway.

Bill's picture

sometimes handsewing, although tedious, is the best way...and you have enough experience to know what's best!

Bill's picture

one other thought you might try on a scrap...sew right down the one row of stitches with water soluble thread to stabilize, then zigzag down that one row...then wash out the soluble thread.
(it only takes a tiny bit of water to dissolve the thread)

Craig's picture

Does your serger have differental feed, if it does (check your Manual), this alters the way the fabric is feed, reducing or if wanted incresing the amount the fabric passes under the presser foot.
Also if you straight sew then serge over the top of it the straight sewing is likey to snap when the fabric is tretched in any manner.

Have been knitting for years. I knit continually then will try another craft, but will return to the needles.

grandcarriage's picture

I've found the differential feed on my serger doesn't work well when working with heavier knits...Regardless, the machine tends to stretch-out and "wave" the fabric...thus the interfacing or basting straight stitch for structure before serging...I can pull out a basting stitch, which makes the snapping problem moot. I hadn't thought of doing machine basting before, though. I'll have to try that one.

Thanks for your input.