Hello! Welcome back, great to see you and pleased I didn’t scare you off on the first day!
This is a link to the LEGGINGS SAL DAY 2 thread (also accessible via the Pattern Club Group Photo Albums section).
Throughout the sew along you can tag your posts on social media with #boopins #boobabypins #boopinsSAL #boopinsSALday2 if you like!
Today we are going to cover:
- Establish stitch settings – hem
- Establish stitch settings – seams
- Sew hems
- Sew rise and inside leg seams
I am going to warn you right now, getting your stitch settings right is the most time consuming part of sewing with stretch fabrics. It is worth spending the time to get them right and then it all just becomes very very fast and easy for next time… I promise!
To start let’s talk about threads. Use good quality polyester thread (not cotton) in your sewing machine and/or overlocker. It is great for clothing and is very durable. For your overlocker loopers and sewing machine bobbin, you can optionally use woolly nylon (or similar thread like maxi-lock). It is a thread designed for stretch sewing and it gives more stretch in the seam. It is also softer on the skin and for children who have skin sensitivity issues or find the seams itchy, woolly nylon could be a great solution for you. If using woolly in the overlocker loopers, tie a small piece of poly thread onto the ends to assist with threading.
1. ESTABLISH STITCH SETTINGS – HEM
There are a few different options here. I will run through them from right to left.
- Sewing Machine – zig zag
- Sewing Machine – triple stitch
- Sewing Machine – twin stretch needle 2.5
- Sewing Machine – twin stretch needle 4.0
- Coverstitch (speciality hemming machine)
- Sewing Machine – stretch stitch (lightening bolt stitch)
Hem stitches – right side
Hem stitches – wrong side
There is sadly no magical formula for your hem settings, it just comes down to playing around until you find something you are happy with. Don’t moan when I tell you that it is also a good idea to drag out your sewing machine manual or look at it online if you have misplaced (burnt) it. There will be some tips in there for how to setup your machine for twin needle stitching and also have some recommended stitch settings for sewing stretch. Even the most basic machines have a zig zag stitch, so if all else fails, you should have that!
Here are a few tips I have leant along the way with my settings:
- Zig Zag – I like to slightly lengthen and widen my settings from the default. I like a width of about 4 and length of about 2.5 on my Janome machine
- Triple stitch – I just go with default settings. This can look pretty funky and decorative and lots of people like to use this on their swimmers binding too!
- Twin needle stitches – I find when using twin needles that I don’t get enough stretch in the seam which means it can be tight to pull over the ankle and the bobbin stitches can also pull out when stretched too much. I personally prefer to use woolly nylon in my bobbin for twin needle stitching. I find there is less instance of skipped stitches if I turn my speed down on the machine and sew a little slower than my normal lead footedness. You will get a slight ridge between the stitches when sewing nylon or polyester, this is normal, I probably prefer 2.5 needles for leg hems for this reason as there is less of a ridge created. Woolly nylon also helps to reduce the ridge.
- Coverstitch – I use a Babylock and find that I really need to use woolly nylon in the looper to get adequate stretch in the hem. Without it, I was finding my hem to be too tight or it would break when stretched over the ankle. This is another one of those things that is very machine dependent. Your machine dealer is a wealth of knowledge with helping to iron out your settings. There is also a good group on Facebook that you can check out if you are having trouble with getting to know your coverstitch machine
When you have found something that you are happy with, do a stretch of the hem to make sure it has good stretch, then write your settings down in a book, on the fabric samples for future reference or on your machine with a permanent marker!
2. ESTABLISH STITCH SETTINGS – SEAMS
Here are some examples of seam stitches.
- Sewing Machine – zig zag stitch
- Sewing Machine – stretch stitch (lightening bolt stitch)
- Overlocker – 4 thread stitch
Here are a few tips.
Sewing machine stitching: Check that when you sew your seam, it is not too wobbly or distorted, if it is, it possibly means that you stitch is too short and too narrow. If you lengthen/widen, it should fix your problem. If you have an overlocker equivalent stitch for your sewing machine, you can optionally use that on the edges to neaten them up, but you don’t have to. Use a thread colour that blends in nicely with the outside fabric.
Overlocker stitching: I am lucky enough to use a Babylock which just auto-tensions everything and I don’t have to worry about messing with settings. I do have my Janome machine settings noted in the pattern though and if I am perfectly honest, I feel I can get a tighter seam when using my Janome and I can manually adjust my settings and I probably prefer that look but the convenience of auto-tension usually gets me every time.
If you are are able to manually adjust your settings, I recommend the following.
- Increase needle tension: If you normally have them set on 3, bump it up to about 4. This will tighten your seam and have less stitching showing or pulling through when the seams are put under pressure.
- Decrease stitch length: Making the stitch length shorter will get more stitches into the seam and result in less chance of breakage when stretched
- Increase differential feed ratio: This will control how wavy the seam is. Bumping this up, will reduce the chance of a wavy seam. You want nice even flat seam.
- Change thread colour: Change your left most needle thread to closely match the colour of the fabric you are using. When stretched, you will see little bits of stitches in the seam, if you change your colour to match the outside fabric, these will blend in better!
If using woolly nylon in the loopers, you want to reduce the tension of those right down to around 0-1 ish.
If you have a 3-thread overlocker, I would do a combination of sewing machine stitch and then finish the edges with the 3 thread overlocker.
NOW TO TEST YOUR SEAMS!!
Do a vertical stretch test to check that your seam will not snap. If it is snapping, take a look to see what thread snapped. If it is the left most thread, just reduce that tension slightly, so maybe from 4 down to say 3.75 and try again.
If you have used a sewing machine and the stretch tests fails, you may need to reduce your stitch length a little.
Now do a horizontal stretch test… this is the bum test and how it will looked when a person bends over essentially!! It is normal to have slight visibility of your threads. If there is too much thread showing, it means that you need to increase your tension slightly and/or decrease your stitch length.
3. SEW HEMS
Yayyyyyy, it you have gotten this far, you are ready to actually sew your leggings… wooohooooo!
Ok, now don’t go all hooligan on me, I want you to try hemming your leggings MY way to start with and it you want to do it some other way for your next pair, then totally knock yourself out!
Fold the leggings hems into position and secure with either glue, clover wonder clips or pins.
Glue: By far the easiest option for hemming. Place a few dabs along the hemline on the wrong side, then fold the hem up into position and use the palm of your hand to press down. This is not meant to be a super strong hold and you can certainly pull it apart again to reposition if you need to. You will get the neatest result with this method. If you haven’t seen one of these bad boys before, you can check out the product listing on the website and watch the video there too. I flat out refuse to sew if I have misplaced mine in my sewing room!
Clover Clips: These are an awesome alternative to pins especially when working with stretch fabrics. They have a vice like grip on them and clip the fabric together and they don’t move! I love that you are not piercing the fabric when you use those so there is no chance that you will create a hole or run in the fabric. If you want to give them a go, I have some available here.
Pins: If you are a traditionalist, that is totally fine and whacking a bunch of pins in there will work well too!
Now let’s actually sew something!
For coverstitch, or twin needle stitching, you sew with your fabric right side up and you can’t see the raw edge of your fabric. It is a little wild so you want to make sure you know where your raw edge is and keep a little away from it. Keep BOTH needles on 2 pieces of fabric at all times for the best finish.
For sewing machine stretch or zig zag stitching, you can sew with the fabric wrong side face up if you want to!
I used coverstitch to finish my hems and this is what they look like. Notice that the stitching is a little way from the raw edge of the fabric. This is what you are aiming for!
4. SEW RISE AND INSIDE LEG SEAMS.
Place your leggings pieces with right sides facing and sew the front and back rise. It is easiest to start sewing from the waist down. Use your preferred ‘seam’ settings established earlier.
Align inside leg seams… look, you have nearly made a pair of leggings!!
Pin or clip inside legs matching the crotch seam and positioning one seam allowance one way and the other seam allowance the other way.
Also clip/pin hems and along the length as desired.
For sewing machine finishing, simply sew the inside leg starting at one hem, up to the crotch and back down the other side finishing at the other hem, backstitching to start and finish. Use the seam settings established earlier.
FLIP TECHNIQUE FOR OVERLOCKER FINISHING
This technique is used throughout a lot of my stretch patterns and it is worth spending some time on understanding it!
You can check out a quick video in the pattern club here as well.
Position inside leg under overlocker foot starting about 1″ from the hem and stitching towards the bottom making sure the hem is neatly aligned.
Stitch 1-2 stitches past the hem, then raise presser foot and very carefully pull the fabric away from the stitch finger (the 2 little prongs).
Flip leggings over towards you and then position the side seam back under the presser foot. Start stitching again about 1/4″ (0.6cm) from the hem which will pull up the slack from the threads from when you flipped them.
Aannnnnnddddd you are all done for DAY2!
Congratulations, you only have the waist elastic to go now! We will cover that tomorrow and then talk a little bit about how we can get creative with the pattern on Thursday and walk through some fun examples!