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Forum > Sewing Techniques and Tips > Topstitching on Stretch Denim ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Topstitching on Stretch Denim
Edge stitching and topstitching on material that stretches
KathleenNW

KathleenNW  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/23/10 10:11 AM

I am in the process of making my first pair of jeans - and I'm really enjoying it. I've chosen a medium weight stretch denim (the bolt said it was 100% cotton, but yet it has some stretch to it).

Everything is going fine, but I've noticed that sewing the edge stitching and topstitching it's stretching out the fabric some, enough to notice. I figure when I wear the pants this probably won't show (I hope!).

I'm using the Jeans gold topstitching thread and a jeans needle. I'm wondering if a topstitching needle would help.

Any advice is welcome. I'll be making another pair and I'd like the topstitching to lay flat and not stretch out the fabric.

Kathy

Debbie Lancaster
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Debbie Lancaster  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/23/10 12:12 PM

Try lightening the presser foot tension and using a teflon coated foot. The best solution would probably be a walking foot, though.

The culprit is the stretch denim.

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Debbie

Vonnevo
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Date: 4/23/10 1:33 PM

Kathy, try using some tear away or water soluble stabiliser under neath the fabric. Tissue paper works well too.
Stretch fabrics mostly have the stretch elastic thread on the crosswise grain (eg around the leg hems) and the feeddogs tend to stretch and then ripple the fabric, as it is being stitched.
Placing tissue paper or similar underneath where you are stitching prevents the stretching.
Vonne

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Vonne šOš Brisbane Australia
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addicted2fabric
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Date: 4/23/10 4:45 PM

I love topstitching, I topstitch everything! (sometimes to the detriment of the garment..lol).
Topstitching needles do make a difference to the neatness of the stitching but for the stretching the main thing is to adjust your machine tension to suit the fabric. Try loosening the foot pressure a little at a time until its right for your denim.
I have topstitched miles and miles of denim and have never needed to use a different foot or anything else.
Good luck, I'll look forward to reading your review and seeing your lovely topstitching :o)

------
Sew Much Fabric, Sew Little Time

Sew4Fun
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Date: 4/23/10 7:26 PM

Like others before me have said, reduce your presser foot pressure. Also increase your stitch length. This is another important factor. The more stitches you put into the fabric the more likely it is to stretch, so a longer stitch length.

On any sort of stretch fabric I reduce my presser foot pressure as far down as it will go when topstitching, without actually lifting the foot off the fabric. On my machine normal is 6.5 and I reduce it down to 2. That's all I ever do for even the stretchiest of fabric and it works.

My default stitch length is 2.5 and I increase it up to 3.5 or 4.0. Also remember lots of steam and pressing after you topstitch each seam.

If you can't reduce you presser foot pressure (on some newer machine you can't) then the next best thing is a walking foot.

Oh btw, I find a jeans needle sews better than a topstitching needle so I wouldn't change your needle. The size does matter though. I only use a #110 on jean fabric. HTH

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Belinda. Melbourne, Australia
http://sew-4-fun.blogspot.com/

KathleenNW

KathleenNW  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/23/10 9:19 PM

Thank you all for your expert suggestions. I really appreciate them.

I just purchased a Bernina 440QE which has a walking foot. I haven't sewn on the machine yet. I figured tackling jeans and learning a new machine were a bit much at the same time! My Viking Lily is my old faithful friend.

goosegreen
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Date: 4/23/10 10:46 PM

No one has mentioned pressing. If you are doing 2 rows of topstitching, you should always press after sewing the first row and then again after the second. It def makes a difference.

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Alison in suburbia - Sydney Australia
My sewing blog: http://nosilasews.blogspot.com/

Keeper of the flock - Janome MC8000, Janome MC4900QC, Elna Elina 40, Husqvarna Rose, Singer 201K, Elna Contessa, Janome My Excel 18W, Janome 634D & 534D overlockers, Janome Coverpro 1000CPX.

Sew4Fun
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Date: 4/23/10 11:35 PM

I have just been topstitching a stretch denim and remembered another important tip. Use a foot that has a groove underneath.

Most machines come with two feet. (Well they come with more but I'm thinking of the two main sewing feet). The first foot (whatever they call it) has a flat bottom for stitching on wovens. The second foot has a large groove underneath for stitching on knit fabrics. The groove underneath means there is less drag on the fabric. Use this second foot when topstitching, especially on stretch fabrics. It not only reduces drag but the groove allows the thick topstitching thread to pass under the foot more easily. HTH

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Belinda. Melbourne, Australia
http://sew-4-fun.blogspot.com/

AZwmn
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In reply to Sew4Fun <<


Date: 9/3/12 3:55 AM

this post just saved me a lot of headaches! I've been sewing and doing alterations for years but having trouble lately with hemming the new very stretchy denim jeans. I found the subject thread via a web search but want to specifically thank you for your post. I adjusted the presser foot tension, increased the stitch length and also used heirloom paper under the hem. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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AZwmn

cequimby
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Date: 11/14/12 9:13 AM

I wanted to bring this post back up because I'm having similar issues. I've tried a some of the advice people have left (thank you everyone, what would we do without you?) - but so far nothing has solved my problem. I've found advice elsewhere that says to use high tension on the top thread for top stitching. This worked for me for top stitching my patch pocket designs. When I started top stitching elsewhere, though, the high tension was stretching out my fabric. When I lower the tension, I end up with loops underneath my work where the top stitching thread is pulled through. Big messy loops.

I'm wondering if my only option is to invest in a walking foot. I'm not sure if it's worth it, because the cost of the walking foot ($100+) is probably almost more than my machine is worth - it's a Husqvarna Viking from the 1970s.

Should I bite the bullet and buy the walking foot?

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