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Forum > Sewing Techniques and Tips > Stretch straight stitch or zigzag stitch for sewing jersey fabric on a sewing machine? ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Stretch straight stitch or zigzag stitch for sewing jersey fabric on a sewing machine?
Which is better?
julsmalham
julsmalham
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Date: 8/2/12 5:56 AM

I am just about to start making a "Shopaholic Renfrew top" in stretch jersey, so I've been searching the internet for tips. Many years ago when I last used jersey I used the stretch straight stitch and I don't think that I had any problems with it. But it was a long time ago and maybe my standards were lower then. Most of the info I've found advises zigzag stitch. So can any of you give me some advice?

julsmalham
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Date: 8/2/12 6:08 AM

Sorry I meant "Sewaholic " not "Shopaholic". The old brain cells are not in gear yet!!!!

nancy2001
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In reply to julsmalham <<
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Date: 8/2/12 7:16 AM

I'm not sure what you mean by the "stretch straight stitch." There is a stretch stitch and there is a straight stitch but I've never heard of anything called the "stretch straight stitch."

As far as what stitch you should use when sewing knit tops, different people use different stitches. I use the straight stitch when sewing side seams and am completely satisfied with it. Other people prefer to use a very narrow zig zag. But you should not use the "stretch stitch" because it puts too much thread into your seams and your seams will look wavy and horrible. The stretch stitch is really intended for extremely stretchy lycra fabrics as you would find in bras, swimwear and girdles.

The best way to select a stitch for your top (or any project) is to conduct a test on scraps of your fabric. Test the stitches you would like to try, and simply pick the one you think is best.

For hems on knit tops, you can use a twin needle or a cover stitch (if you own a coverstitch machine).

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Date: 8/2/12 10:45 AM

Jalie Patterns has a great video.

http://m.youtube.com/?reload=3&rdm=m4vdvn1vj#/watch?v=DTZReQxc9r8



LynnRowe
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Date: 8/2/12 10:49 AM

I don't care for stretch stitch or zigzag; I use a plain ol' straight stitch, with small hole throat plate and SS foot. I also do not stretch the fabric as I sew. (Maybe for kids' clothing, but I don't move hard or fast enough to pop stitches on my knit tops.


That being said, I usually just use my serger and coverstitch for knits.
-- Edited on 8/2/12 10:49 AM --

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diane s
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Date: 8/2/12 11:50 AM

As Nancy says, stay away from the 'stretch stitch'. I use a straight or zigzag for tops and a 3 step zigzag for some parts of sewing lingerie.
My only use for the stretch stitch is reinforcing the crotch seam in kids woven pants.

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My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

beauturbo
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Date: 8/2/12 12:57 PM

Use whatever you got. If you only have a straight stitcher, then that's just it; even just by default. And then you have to try to stretch the knit while sewing on it, to even give it any "built in give" at all. If you don't want that stitching to break later. If you got straight and zig zag, then at least a slight zig zag would be much better, as then you got some give to it.

I like a straight stretch stitch (which would be the same as a triple straight stitch where machine goes forward a few stitches then back one) for some things, as it does stretch good. Con's on it though, is it's not good made real tight and small at all, and I would not use it anyplace you think you might have to pick it out later, as it would be hard to pick out, and probably leave holes in most knits if you even try to pick it out later.

If you know the item is going to fit, (and you won't be picking anything out later, or wishing you had back previously cut off seam allowances), then on a sewing machine, I would use some/one of those built into a machine, "fake overlocking stitches" just made for knits on purpose, built into a sewing machine instead, (as that is what they are there for) and just cut off close to those and just press the seam allowances to one side.

And if you have a serger/overlocker instead, maybe use that instead. So, I just think everyone avails themselves of whatever tools they happen to have laying around. Best way for me to see what is going to work for any particular knit though, is to use some left over fabric scraps of same fabric to test sew on, before sewing the garment for real, just to see what happens to each particular knit, with all those different choices.

I actually almost never use a plain straight stitch on any knits. At least not in any place they can still stretch much at all. Because I don't want my seams to break later, I want to keep the stretch, and I don't want the item to be all rippled and seams stretched out as I make it either.

The only time I would use a straight stitch on a stretchy knit, might be in some place it really can't stretch much anymore. Like possibly on top of a interfaced, and stabilized facing or such.

So the question might be what are your choices with just what you got?

PattiAnnJ
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In reply to julsmalham <<


Date: 8/2/12 1:27 PM

My Elna and Baby Lock both have a Triple Stitch for reinforced stretch stitching or top stitching.

The process begins with one stitch forward, one stitch back, two stitches forward, then repeats one back and two forward.

For seams that are not going to be stressed, a narrow zigzag is used.

Edited to add:


Here is the Jalie video. It looks a lot the old Ann Person Stretch & Sew method!


-- Edited on 8/2/12 1:38 PM --

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

julsmalham
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Date: 8/2/12 2:56 PM

Thank you for all your replies with lots of good advice. I checked my sewing machine instruction book and the stitch that I referred to as stretch straight stitch is actually called "elastic triple straight stitch". I also have elastic tripple zigzag stitch, overlock stitch, closed overlock stitch, pullover stitch, and honeycomb stitch which my book says are all suitable for stretch fabrics. I have to admit that I have not looked at this book in maybe 20 years (my machine is 30 years old). In my ignorance I thought the only stitch that was suitable for seams was the elastic triple straight stitch. Thank you ladies I am learning a lot from your comments. I am self taught, or maybe I should say that I muddle through things until I find something that works. I have not done any garment making for a very long time and I want to get back into it. I am so pleased that I have found this website and can ask all you experts questions. Your help is very much appreciated.

Courtney Ostaff
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Date: 8/2/12 7:40 PM

I'd go with the closed overlock stitch on any place where the fabric will stretch, and a straight stitch everywhere else. IMHO. YMMV. :)

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