Fast to sew and comfortable to wear - this just about covers it for me in terms of everyday clothes.
But let's face it.
There is one area that can be challenging to me and that is hemming.
I decided to get to the bottom of this issue and share my experiments, one by one, with you for comment.
As a baseline let's talk about what there is to know about knits and knit hems:
1. Knit fabric stretch - this is not helpful on hems that, in the process of hemming, can be stretched out of shape.
2. Straight up straight stitches, composed of the famous lockstitch, which is essentially a tiny knot in each stitch and not at all mobile when lined up in a seam, can break when the fabric stretches and it can't. I think it is safe to say that pretty much nothing terrifies a sewer like the idea that one of their own stitches should ever pop.
However we also know a few other things too, one of the most significant being that any zig-zag stitch is by nature somewhat stretchy.
Now this is a fact - compare what happens when you pull on a zig-zag stitch and when you pull on a straight stitch - although I can't actually tell you why this is so.
If I had being paying attention in the one and only year I took physics I might be able to say that the diagonals deflect the stress - but since I was not paying attention you and I would both know I was making this up, although like many made up things it does seem reasonable.
Note I did take Latin instead of sciences - it was that kind of school system - on some argument that if you knew Latin you had a basis for other languages - logic that has left me with no other languages, no knowledge of science, and but lots of made up ideas about zig zag.
Back on track.
What does matter here, and is true, is that a hem made with zig zags will not break very easily. This is why many traditional patterns, and some companies like Jalie that have a long pre-serger history, suggest hemming with a zig zag stitch.
So as my kick off hem that is exactly what I did on this excellent sweatshirt pattern by Jalie:
I have to say that I really love this pattern. I bought it as a basis for the kids' Halloween costumes for which I needed various bottoms and tops, such as this Batman for Billy:
It kills me that I can use the same pattern for Billy and for myself.
In my version I left off the band at the bottom, I was doing a hemming experiment after all, and I curved the side of the hem.
I serge finished the raw edge of the cotton/lycra sweatshirt fleece, and then turned it up and stitched it with a large zig zag using sewing thread.
Here is what the stitched hem looks from each side laid next to each other:
And here is the sweat shirt on my dress form, since this project was a one person operation today and I am unable to both wear the outfit and photograph it at the same time. I notice my dress form has a bit of a list to her in these shots, undoubtedly because I bashed her around a bit on the stairs when we came up from the basement:
As I suspected it would this hem does have a wave to it. The reason for this is of course due to another aspect of the zig zag stitch applied to a knit fabric - the busy action of the zig zag can work the fabric a bit and under that activity stretch the fabric out somewhat and then sew that stretch in.
This is exactly why I am not a fan of all those multi-action reverse action "stretch" stitches on so many machines - too much movement=too much fabric stretch. A minimal old zig zag is about the only stitch like this I would ever use to make a knit hem.
To recap, so here we are:
Zig zag hems on a conventional machine with conventional thread:
- Not likely to pop the stitches
- Familiar machine, familiar stitch, easy to implement. You don't have to get up out of your chair, which has a lot going for it.
- The hem may wave - the degree of wave in proportion to the degree of stretch in the fabric
Grade: B- to C+ which is a pass of course. Anyone who teaches or anyone who takes a course is very clear on this.
On my body this hem looks maybe more normal that it might to you now when you are looking at it on a dress form with an eagle eye for any faults.
More ideas tomorrow.