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I'm sewing shopping bags as (now belated) Christmas presents for a bunch of family and friends. I thought they would be faster to do than they are, and I feel like I've gotten myself in way over my head! But my mom (the one person I've finished one for so far) really loves hers, and it felt so nice to give her something handmade. I think people appreciate a handmade gift a lot because it really has your heart in it.

Anyway, I'm starting on the second one now, and I'm having a couple of sources of frustration. The one is one of the fabrics I'm using for it (I'm using three different fabrics for each one so it looks more colourful and fun) is a knit. I got a bunch of knits at a swap meet last year, because they were cheap and I liked the patterns. I'd only ever sewn with cottons before, but I figured it would be basically the same thing.

Well, turns out sewing with knits frustrates the hell out of me! The actual sewing is just the same as cottons, but all the prep is so difficult because of how stretchy the material is. It's like impossible to pin the pattern and cut the pieces out, and the disappearing ink pen that I use to trace pattern pieces on cottons won't show up on knits. Is there some trick for making all of this easier? And how do I trace the pattern pieces onto the fabric if the disappearing ink pen won't work? What I did this time was just leave the pattern pieces pinned onto the fabric and cut around them, but doing that makes me nervous because I'm worried about accidentally cutting a tiny bit off the edge of the pattern piece, and I know you're never supposed to cut anything but fabric with your fabric scissors.

My other question is about my flywheel. I've always had a hard time using the backwards stitch lever on my machine because (I don't know if other people's machines are like this) you have to be pushing down the lever the whole time, so I can't be holding the fabric with both hands to guide it. So the fabric doesn't go very straight and the reverse stitch often wouldn't go exactly over the part I'd already sewn for beginning or end of the seam.

I was talking to my mom about this problem, and she suggested that when I'm at the beginning or end of a seam I turn the fabric around and just sew a few stitches back over the seam by turning my flywheel. So I tried to do that tonight, but I ended up with some really big loops of thread on the underside of the fabric. Is it supposed to do that??? I thought it would be just normal stitches like when I'm sewing with the foot pedal. I don't want to have those big loops on the fabric, both because it looks dumb and because it seems like it would be easy for them to get caught on something and break, ruining the seam. But if I could get the flywheel to just stitch normal stitches, it seems like this would be a better way of starting and ending seams than using the backwards stitch lever.

As always, any help is much appreciated!


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2017 08:28 am (UTC)

Try using a 2B pencil applied lightly.

For the loop of thread, just cut it very close to the fabric.

Best of luck!

Jan. 24th, 2017 12:08 am (UTC)

I use clips when I sew knits. As far as marking, have you tried chalk instead?

Jan. 24th, 2017 02:35 am (UTC)
You won't wreck your scissors if you take a little bit of the pattern with you by accident. Just avoid the pins. I use chalk for everything, it marks knits pretty well but the stretching thing still happens.

As to backstich, you only need a couple of stitches to work. Are you able to stretch your fingers such that you are holding the fabric with the thumb on one side of the foot and your middle finger on the other, so that it is guided by just one hand? I tend to just pull with one hand to guide the front, but if you are worried about both sides that's what I'd do. Again though, you only need 5 stitches or so.

You could also consider switching to a narrow zig-zag for the beginning and end, especially on knits I find those are unlikely to ravel.

Edited at 2017-01-24 02:38 am (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )