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Swimsuit Elastic Trouble
Adica
Adica
Member since 6/17/11
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Date: 5/23/13 8:46 PM

I'm attempting to sew my first swimsuit (Kwik Sew 3609), and I'm having all sorts of trouble sewing over the elastic. Every time I try to sew it onto the fabric, my sewing machine jams after one or two (bad-looking) stitches, and there's a tangled mess of thread on the feed dog-side of the fabric. This is the elastic I'm using, except it's 3/8".

I've tried different combinations of things with the same result. I'm using a brand new needle, so I know it's not dull. The bobbin is wound correctly (I know because I wound it wrong at the beginning of the project and had to rewind it). I've tried sewing with a stretch needle and a universal needle (both 14/90); elastic overcast stitch, stretch overcast stitch, zigzag, and three-step zigzag; general purpose foot and my overcast foot; more tension and less tension; sewing with the elastic on the top and the bottom; and every combination thereof. It is definitely not lack of trying on my part. It even jams when I hand turn it. It's so frustrating.

I'm guessing it's probably the needle? I did notice that both needles I tried were having a hard time getting through the elastic. These are all the needle types I have available right now, though I can get more this weekend.

Thank you! (X-posted to another sewing forum)

biochemistress

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Date: 5/23/13 9:26 PM

What kind of machine are you using? If you can, adjust a zigzag stitch width to no more than 3-4, and the length to around 2-2.5. I'd lower the top tension to around 3 (a little less than average), and lower the presser foot tension if you can. You may find you have to stretch the elastic a little to get it moving through the machine. A microtex needle may help too. Some people have better luck with those than the ball point ones. Try a smaller size too, like a 12.

I'm sorry for all your troubles; I hope some of this helps. I just got done making a suit myself, and zigzagged the elastic in the legs with the above settings. I didn't need anything additional, but I'm wondering if your fabric is being sucked down into the needle plate a little bit. Try a piece of tissue paper (like wrapping tissue) under all of it and see if that helps.

SandiMacD
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Date: 5/24/13 4:51 AM

I would try a different needle type. If the elastic is the first thing it is piercing it needs to be sharp and pointed.
A ballpoint and stretch needle is designed to separate knit weave and ease though- elastic is not a knit.
I agree a microtex might do better- or a sharp.
Try a sample first and see what the underside swimsuit fabric looks like. And do the stitch adjustment also suggested.

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mgmsrk1
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Date: 5/24/13 9:05 AM

I would try a 16.

A micro may pierce the elastic better but it may cause your swimsuit fabric to run.

Are you using good 100% poly hread?

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Marie367
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In reply to Adica <<


Date: 5/24/13 9:34 AM

I should answer this after I do my swimsuit that is planned for this summer. I don't sew these often. I have a Janome and didn't have any trouble with it. I think I used a Schemtz sharp either a 12 or 14. A stretch might do it but a ball point will not (I seldom use ball points or universals anymore). I used a 3-step zigzag. I believe I used a walking foot. I reduced my foot pressure. Sometimes you have to experiment but it sounds like it is a needle problem. I used that elastic too so that is not a problem. I know notions are on sale this weekend at Hancock's!

Judy Kski
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In reply to Adica <<


Date: 5/24/13 11:15 AM

When you begin to sew, are you holding the upper and bobbin threads? I had a neighbor ask for a sewing machine repair recommendation for her machine only to find out that she was getting a "bird's nest" because she didn't hold the threads when she started. j

You're sewing on a thick combination of elements so loosen your presser foot pressure. Best of luck!

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Judy

Adica
Adica
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Date: 5/24/13 5:41 PM

Thank you everyone for the advice! Unfortunately, my machine won't let me lessen the pressure on my presser foot. I do hold the threads as I sew. That helped a tiny bit but not a lot (e.g., three stitches before jamming instead of two). I will try the different needles suggested. I'll let you know how it goes!

MartiP
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Date: 5/24/13 6:41 PM

I use knit elastic (it is reccommeneded in Jalie patterns because it does not narrow when stretched) and a stretch needle with no problem. I sometimes also use a teflon foot on my machine. I think stretch needles work much better than ball point on lycra fabric.

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MartiP

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Sarsez
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Date: 5/24/13 11:36 PM

What sort of elastic are you using? In our local shops the elastic they sell as "swimsuit elastic" is awful braided stuff that is difficult to feed through sewing machines. I recommend getting your hands on the white or black rubberised swimwear elastic. Comes in 8mm or 9mm widths which is perfect for a 10mm seam allowance. This stuff is much easier on your machine to sew. I also use a 90 stretch needle.

The next thing you might like to try to improve things is handling technique. You are gettting a thread nest on the underside because the fabric is not being fed at the proper rate required for the needle.

Start with some scrap fabric and rubberised elastic. Place the elastic so it is flush with the raw edge, with the wrong side of the fabric up. Put this under the foot of your machine BUT DO NOT START AT THE EDGE. In other words, start about 5cm away from where you would traditionally start. This immediately puts the fabric and elastic even at the front and the back of the foot. Choose a zig zag stitch. (above posts have some good info on width and length). Hold the threads AND ALSO HOLD THE BACK ELASTIC FABRIC COMBO. As you start to stitch, very gently pull the fabric through the foot. Too fast and you'll bust a needle, too slow and you'll get thread nests! As you sew, move you hand along the back of the already stitched fabric until it is closer to where the foot is and again apply slight tension. You'll probably need to keep a slight tension on the front too. It's very hard to explain in words but it is an easy technique to use, once you get the hang of it. Keep practising and soon you'll be able to start at the very edge and ease the work through the needle.

HTH

*editted to add I have just carefully re-read your first post and had a look at the elastic you are using. While the braided elastic will work with swimwear, it does end up looking very "homemade". My mum used it in her swimwear once and complained it was also uncomfortable too.
-- Edited on 5/25/13 3:39 AM --

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24th Nov 12 to 28th Nov 13
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sew2006
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In reply to Adica <<


Date: 5/25/13 0:15 AM

Does the sewing sew the knit fabric without the elastic? Sometimes the top thread works it's way out of the takeup lever and will jam machine within 2-3 stitches.

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