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Date: 6/26/09 3:55 PM
Coverpro Guide Part Two: Supplies, feet, binders
This thread contains Part Two of the four part Coverpro Guide. I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any questions or comments about buying your Coverpro that aren't covered here, please post your message on the original Janome Coverpro Coverstitch Machines CP900 & CP1000 thread.
This guide is dedicated to PR's Vonnevo. Vonne, without your inspiration, expertise and guidance, we'd all still be cursing at our twin needles.
Thanks are also due to the dozens of people from the US, Austrailia and other countries who contributed their sewing and money saving tips to PR's Coverpro thread over the past three years.
And a special mention should also be made of Debbie Cook's excellent Coverstitch Tutorials which provides information about all brands of coverstitch machines and how to use them. No wonder so many of us call Debbie the Coverstitch Queen.
Essential supplies (needles, thread) and where to buy them
In order to get started using your Coverpro or 434, you need only two things: special coverstitch needles and ordinary thread. Actually the machine comes prethreaded and a package of the special needles is also included.
Do not use regular sewing machine needles in your Coverpro or 434, regardless of what your dealer tells you. Unfortunately most dealers know little or nothing about the Coverpro. Regular sewing machine needles will produce skipped stitches. The special coverstitch needles have a longer scarf, a longer groove than regular needles, and a light ball point. These features prevent skipped stitches and thread breakage.
The coverstitch needles are manufactured by both Schmetz and also by Organ. You will need to order them online since they aren't carried by most local sewing stores. Although the Organ needles cost less, both brands are considered equally good.
The Schmetz needles are called ELX705 and come in two sizes, #12/80, and #14/90. The Organ needles are called SY2922 and come in three sizes #11/75, #12/80, and #14/90. Note that size 90 works well on most fabrics and is considered the most useful size.
The special needles cost more than sewing machine needles, but they don't need to be changed for every project. Some people have successfully used the same needles on dozens of projects; others change them more frequently. It's a good idea to have extra needles on hand since they sometimes break and can't be bought locally.
Listed below are three online sources of coverstitch needles. Packs of one hundred needles are available, but two or three packs of ten needles each may be enough to last a couple of years for some people. Discount Embroidery Supply offers the best deal on small orders -- a pack of ten needles costs $5.25 and includes free shipping to the US or Canada. The Needle Coop offers the best deal on a package of 100 needles, $26, but orders are placed approximately once a month, so you might have to wait more time than you'd like.
Discount Embroidery Supply
yahoo groups Needle Coop
The coverstitch machine uses ordinary thread for the looper (underside), as well as the needles. Wooly nylon can be used in the looper, but most people use regular thread. The coverstitch has more than enough give with regular thread, and it's harder to thread the looper with wooly nylon. Some people prefer wooly nylon for lingerie, but if you're using wooly nylon, you will need to decrease the looper tension to 0 and perhaps bypass the second guide. Although Maxilock serger thread can be used for the looper, regular sewing machine thread should be used for the needles.
An excellent source for high quality but low priced Gutermann 100% polyester thread is Cleaner's Supply. They sell 1,094 yard spools of thread for only $2.49, plus $3.83 flat rate shipping . The thread comes in 360 colors and you can request a free color chart. Note that this thread can also be used in your sewing machine.
The Atlanta Thread Company also carries the Gutermann thread at a slightly higher cost, and they sell the Gutermann thread color chart with samples of actual thread for $18.00.
To cut down on the amount of thread you need to buy, you can also wind bobbins of regular thread on your sewing machine and place them directly on the spindles or use them with a Bob 'n Serge device. It takes a little more time and effort to wind bobbins and use them with a Bob 'n Serge, but it works very well.
Optional equipment, (feet, extension table, feet) which ones do you really want and where to buy them or how to make them
When Janome introduced their Coverpros, they deliberately priced the machine prices relatively low and planned to recoup their profits on the accessories, some of which are outrageously expensive. Most dealers charge the full retail price for accessories. But you can order any accessory from Kevin at Ken's Sewing (1-877-KENSSEW) who offers the lowest prices.
The Coverpro has several optional feet and other accessories, but only two are considered the most useful and recommended by most users. For photos, parts numbers and a and a full description of each accessory, please see the Janome website. The The Sew Vac Direct website also has photos of each accessory, but note that their prices are somewhat high. Also note that binders will be discussed in their own section of this guide.
1. The Center Guide Foot is a clear plastic foot that includes a removeable metal rudder. This foot can be used without the rudder as a clear foot that gives you maximum visibility during normal coverstitching. It will also allow you to attach binders should you eventually decide you want them.
When the metal rudder is attached, the foot, which functions like a sewing machine's stitch in the ditch foot, can be used to apply coverstitching over seams. If you want to topstitch over seams, the Center Guide Foot is absolutely essential. No matter how slowly and carefully you sew, you will never be able to get a straight line of stitching centered over a seam without this foot. The Center Guide Foot not only makes topstitching over seams possible, it makes them incredibly easy.
The Center Guide Foot is expensive -- some dealers charge $90 for this foot. Fortunately, Ken's Sewing (1-877-KENSEW) sells this foot for $53. Note that when you order, you should ask to speak with Kevin, who owns the store, provides the most reliable service, and has dealt with many members of Pattern Review before. Be sure to tell him whether you own the 900 or the 1000. The Center Guide Foot has two versions and you need to order the one that will fit your machine.
The GUR sewing store and website based in London, England also offers the Center Guide Foot for an excellent price. A few Americans have recently ordered a Center Guide Foot for as little as $44 including shipping to the U.S.
Note that if you buy the Center Guide Foot you do not need the Clear View Coverstitch Foot. When the rudder of the Center Guide Foot is removed, the foot is the same as the Clear View Foot.
2. The Janome White Extension Table is also highly recommended by most users. This small white table measures approximately 12" by 8" and is useful for two reasons. First, it provides a flatbed surface that bears the full weight of your garments and allows you to obtain a neat and even coverstitch. Second because it locks into your machine, it will provide a secure and stable platform where a binder can be attached. This table can be ordered for $39.99 from Kevin at Ken's Sewing (1-877-KENSSEW).
The small white Janome extension table should not be confused with the large, clear, acrylic Dream World Sew Steady Extension Table that is also available for the Coverpro. The clear extension table is massive and measures 18" by 24". Although it works well enough for general coverstitching, it does not provide a secure and stable surface for a binder.
The clear Dreamworks Extension Table can often be purchased through ebay or other websites. Because of its large size and incompatibilty with binders, it's not generally recommended.
Note that a few people have actually made their own extension tables for the Coverpro using a plastic cutting board. If you're handy and on a very tight budget you might want to consider this as an option. See the binder section of this guide for more information.
The other feet and accessories listed below are not as widely used, though some people have found them useful. For more information about each foot including description, photo and part number, please see the Janome website.
The Adjustable Seam Guide allows you to sew a consistent distance away from the edge of the garment. Vonnevo finds this to be a very useful foot. But many Coverpro users find they can obtain the same benefit by either pasting a stack of Post-It Notes on the bed of the machine or using a magnetic seam guide.
The Clear View Coverstitch Foot gives you maximum visibility when you're coverstitching. Note that if you have or intend to buy the Center Guide Foot, you should not purchase the Clear View Foot because the Center Guide without its removable metal rudder is exactly the same as the Clear Foot.
There are four types of Elastic Gathering Attachments -- two to apply elastic on top of the fabric (wide and narrow widths) and two to apply it underneath the fabric(wide and narrow widths). This video shows these feet being used. These attachments are said to work well, but you do need to experiment to get the right tension setting on the elasticator. Most Coverpro users who attach elastic to their garments prefer to use their serger or sewing machines.
Both the Hemming Guide and Hem Guide Type 2 allow you to sew hems that range between 5/8" and 1-3/4". The difference between the Hemming Gude and the Type 2 Hem Guide Type is that the Hemming Guide merely folds the fabric for a coverstitch hem, while the Type 2 Hem Guide both folds the fabric and also holds it in place. Although a few people like these feet, many who've bought them say they rarely or never use them. They feel it's too much trouble to screw these feet into place. Also the extension table cannot be used when either foot is in place.
A simpler and less expensive option is to press your hem into place, with or without first applying Steam-A-Seam2 or a glue stick. Then use a stack of Post-It notes or a magnetic seam guide to help you coverstitch in a straight line.
If you'd like to order any of these optional accessories, Kevin at Ken's Sewing (1-877-KENSSEW) has the lowest prices. The Type 2 Hem Guide is $43.
One thing we do not recommend is purchasing Allbrand's $349 seven piece accessory set, which does not include the machine. You would be paying an exorbitant price to receive several feet you don't need and most likely will never use.
A five minute CD is available for purchase. However, it is basically a promotional video and doesn't give sewing tips or information on how to use the attachements. Dealers have a 20 minute CD that does contain some instructional information, but it isn't available for purchase. A ten minute introduction to the Coverpro is also available as You Tube video.
The book Serger Secrets is geared to traditional sergers, but it also contains some general information about coverstitching. You can order it used on Amazon at a significant savings.
What are binders and do you need them? Where to buy them and how to use them on your Coverpro. Branded vs. generics.
To sew a simple neckline for a knit top, you have a three options, all of which produce a professional looking neckline.
1. You can turn the neckline down, press it, and if you choose to, glue or tape it in place with Wonder Tape, glue stick or Steam-A-Seam. Then use your Coverpro to coverstitch the neckline securely in place.
2. You can sew a banded neckline with the classic quartering technique and attach it in the round using your sewing machine and/or serger. Then topstitch the band into place using either your Coverpro to coverstitch or your sewing machine and a twin needle, as this photo shows.
3. You can sew and attach a binding to your neckline in one step using your Coverpro and one of the special binders, either Janome brand or generic.
Binders are used in manufacturing many RTW garments including tee shirts and dressier tops. One way to tell that a binder has been used is that the binding will usually start and stop at one of the shoulder seams.
Some people love their coverstitch binders and use them to create beautiful necklines that are indestinguishable from RTW in every way. But others sew equally beautiful necklines without them.
According to Debbie Cook, "Using a binder means binding is absolutely brainless. I just cut a strip, feed it into the binder, and go. No stretching, no figuring out any ratios between neck opening vs. binding length. For traditional tees, you leave one shoulder seam open, bind, and then finish the shoulder after."
Binders let you sew a neckline quickly, but you must first invest money in the equipment and time in learning to use them correctly. Some people use binders on almost every project. Others who've bought binders for their Coverpros rarely or never use them. Note that binders can be used on many fabrics but not all. Lightweight or curling knits do not work well with binders. Sometimes adding a lightweight fusible knit interfacing or starching the fabric may help, but some knits can not be successfully bound.
This guide contains only an introduction to buying and using binders with your Coverpro. To learn more about binders in general and how to use them, please see Debbie Cook's excellent Coverstitch Tutorial. It is the best source for complete and accurate information.
A coverstitch binder is a large, odd looking metal device that attaches to the bed of your Coverpro and feeds a folded strip of fabric in so it can be sewn to the body of your garment.
There are two types of binders: "A" binders fold the fabric into a single fold that leaves a raw finish on the inside of the garment; "B" binders fold the fabric into a double fold that provides a clean, but somewhat bulky, finish. PR's kka suggests that an easy way to remember which is "A" and which is "B" is to look at the letter itself. The letter B is shaped the way the binding looks with both edges folded to the inside.
Many people prefer "A" binders because they add less bulk to the neckline. If bulk is a concern, the classic quartered neckline sewn with a regular sewing machine and then coverstiched down provides a neckline with the least amount of bulk. "B" binders are particularly good for camisoles where the binding and the strap are sewn as one unit.
Unfortunately, Janome manufactures only two binders, and both of these are "B" style and produce a bulky neckline. These binders are extremely expensive and sometimes sell for over $120 each. In order to use the larger and more useful, 1/2" finished binding size, Janome encourages users to purchase the smaller, and practically useless, 1/4" finished binding size because it contains the special Janome Binder Plate and the special binder presser foot. However, we understand the Binder plate can be purchased separately as part number 785 824 025 for approximately $20 to $40.
The least expensive way to try out binders is to purchase a generic binder on ebay for less than $20. You will also need the Janome white Extension Table and the Center Guide Foot (or Clear Foot). The Center Guide Foot and the Clear Foot are smaller than the free metal foot that comes with the Coverpro. The free metal foot is too large to use with a binder.
If you have the Janome white Extension Table, you can securely attach the binder to your Coverpro using a $2 package of Handi-Tac or Blue-Tac putty or even masking tape or painter's tape. Note that the binder will adhere to your machine perfectly well using putty or tape. This is an excellent way for you to try binders at a minimal cost to see whether or not you like them.
If it turns out you don't like binders, you're out only $25. If you do like binders, you can easily purchase a complete set of generic binders and/or the expensive Janome set. Note that Ken's Sewing (1-877-KENSSEW) sells the Janome Binders for about $80 each.
Using binders requires skill and practice. First, you need to learn how to cut and fold the fabric and snake it through the binder correctly. Then you need to learn how to position the binder correctly on the sewing machine bed, especially if you are using blue putty or masking tape instead of the Janome binder plate. You also need to determine the right machine settings for the particular fabric you're using.
But once you have mastered these steps, it's extremely easy to attach the binding because the Coverpro does the work for you. But only you can decide whether or not you like the final result. Also it does take some time to set the machine up for binding.
Generic binders, also called industrial binders, are available from the Sharp Sewing store store on ebay. Many people on PR have purchased their binders from Sharp Sewing, also known as the "ebay guy," though some say communication with the ebay guy can sometimes be slow. Sharp Sewing ships world wide using the GPME.
To purchase generic binders from Sharp Sewing, you need to understand a few things. First, purchase only the plain kind that do not say "Post-Mount" because Post-Mount binders will not work with your Coverpro. Second, the binders are indicated by the size of the unfolded (or "cut") binding, not the finished binding size.
Here is a list of the unfolded "cut" sizes along with the finished binding size for the Type "A" single fold generic binders sold by Sharp Sewing on ebay.
**** CUT SIZE / FINISH SIZE CHART ****
Debbie Cook discusses her favorite binder sizes here.
Unfortunately, the 3/8" finished size, which is considered the most useful size, is no longer available as a Type "A" binder. However the slightly smaller 5/16" finished size is available as a Type "A" binder.
Coverstitch binders are also available through ebay's CuTex Sewing Store.
Some people have made their own binder plates and extension tables. PR's Cabz kindly provided this photo of a home made extension table with a generic binder attached to it.
Keep in mind that the large, clear Dream World Extension Table does not provide a secure surface for binders. The Dreamworks table hops around too much, and this interferes with the binding process.
If you're using Handi-Tac blue putty or ordinary masking tape to secure your binder to the white Janome Extension table, it's very easy to get a secure hold. Binders do not need to be permanently bolted into place. But you need to position the binder in exactly the right spot almost touching the presser foot. You don't need to own a Coverpro 1000 or Elna 434 in order to use binders. You can produce attractive garments with binders using the Coverpro 900, too.
To make her own binder plate, PR's kka went to a hardware store and bought two 3" by 5" metal plates that already had holes already drilled into them that matched the holes on the Coverpro. She overlapped the plates and screwed them together to make one larger plate and then bolted the binder on top as if it were an actual Janome plate attachment.
Nancy K's husband constructed a generic binder adapter from aluminum angle using a jigsaw cutout. He traced the top shape and marked the holes using a Janome plate and marked the generic binder opening.
Note that you can use the Janome plate with a generic binder. It will catch one hole and stay in place, and you can further secure it with Handi-Tac or masking tape.
Avancleve trimmed part of a generic binder with a saw so it could attach directly to the Coverpro with screws, rather than with binder plates, tape or putty.
-- Belt Loop Folders
Sharp Sewing also carries generic belt loop folders that are said to work well. The 3/8" finished size is commonly used in RTW garments. Kka reports that the binder plates do not work with the belt loop folders. Simply tape them down to the extension table in front of the machine.
They require little adjusting because they're not wrapping around an edge.
Kka reports that generic belt loop folders are particularly good for producing and attaching sporty stripes that appear on athletic jackets and pants.
-- Edited on 8/27/09 4:48 PM --
No sewing project is ever a complete success nor a total failure.
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