A couple of weeks ago, I showed you my tunic top. It's not often I sew for myself and I was particularly pleased, as I had sewn this top without a commercial pattern, tracing around an existing garment instead.
However, the fabric is extremely stretchy and the hems have that wavy appearance - not a good look for a garment. I had used a stretch twin needle and my regular presser foot, which had previously worked well on kids' t-shirts that were not as stretchy.
In the original tunic top post, I said that I was going to experiment with different techniques for sewing hems on very stretchy fabric. In the meantime, Lindsay, from PA Country Crafts, left this comment: Did you try steaming the wonky seams? That seems to help a lot.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lindsay!!! I was originally going to redo the hems, but not now. They're not perfect, but they're good enough to leave as is.
I still wanted to experiment to see if there were better ways to hem very stretchy fabrics. Here are my results. I did 12 different tests, but have narrowed it down to show you five.
I added tissue paper to the mix and increased the stitch length to 3. It's less wavy, but the stitching between the two lines has caused a ridge, rather like piping. I'm not sure if this is the increased stitch length or if the tension is out.
I swapped the regular presser foot to a walking foot and there's an improvement, but still wavy.
Back to the regular presser foot and with an ordinary stretch needle instead of the twin and a zig zag stitch. Getting better!
Even better when tissue paper was added.
And the best result was with a walking foot, using a regular stretch needle and a zig zag stitch with a width of 1 and a length of 3.5. None of these tests have been steamed and they have all been done with the presser foot pressure reduce to 22. (This will be a machine specific setting.)
I SO wanted to keep sewing hems with a twin needle, but it does appear that a zig zag stitch gives a much better finish on very stretchy fabric, with my machine. I'm still going to use a twin needle on knit fabric that is not as stretchy.
However, the tests that have the best stretch, are the ones with the twin needle. Years ago, when I used to do a lot of sewing with stretch fabric, the hems were always the weak point. We'll see how well these hems last.
Again, I would value your comments re any experiences you have had, sewing hems with stretch fabric.