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.)
Note that a walking foot is NOT designed to be used with a zig zag stitch. The gap where the needle goes is quite narrow. If you want to try this, MAKE SURE the width of the stitch is narrow enough that the needle doesn't hit the plate and break.
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.