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I have been wanting to tackle some projects with knits with my sewing machine (an old singer from the early 70’s). It does not have any accessories, just a regular presser foot. It is a zig zag machine so it could probably accommodate a twin needle, but lacks a second spool holder, therefore I am not sure I could make that work.

I have tackled a sundress with this machine, using a knit fabric, as well as a couple of garments with cotton/spandex fabric (therefore a little bit of stretch). I find that the results are not ideal because the seams are slightly pulled out of shape. I am guessing that I need a walking foot. If so, can I just get a generic one, or does it have to be specific for the machine? Do I need any other accessories? Without a holder for a second spool of thread, how would I get a twin needle to work, or is that out of the question???

Any insight is greatly appreciated Thanks


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  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Nov 28, 2011, 09.20 AMby katexxxxxx

    If you read through this article, there’s a description about sewing knits with a straight stitch machine and others, which might help you. I’ve always found the basic zz MUCH better than any of the fancy knit stitches for sewing knits, and you don’t need a twin needle. If you DO use one, make sure it’s a needle for knits. And make sure it isn’t too wide for the swing of your needle. Older machines tended to have a narrower swing (4-5mm rather than the modern 6..+). Don’t get a needle wider than the swing of your machine at max width.

    Knits aren’t terribly difficult, they just need care, and, as with so much in sewing, the right equipment!

    To start with, you HAVE to keep the stretch nature of kits in mind: use a light touch when handling them, and be careful not to pull the fabric, when cutting or sewing, or even just moving it from one place to another! Be extra careful when pinning out a pattern that you don’t distort it as you pin and cut: don’t lift the fabric as you cut, especially… One good way to avoid this is to use a rotary cutter and a mat – or three for a long bit! ;)

    Fit the right type of needle to the sewing machine. For T shirt fabric a KNIT or JERSEY needle is best. Anything containing Lycra/Spandex/elastane will need a STRETCH needle, and anything like swimsuit fabric or shiny nylon/Lycra knits for dance wear needs a SUPER STRETCH needle.

    Match your thread to the fabric, much as you would for any other project. I like to use polycore on cotton knits (polyester thread wrapped in cotton), and bulk nylon in the serger loopers on stretch fabrics… For general purpose sewing with the ordinary machine, a good quality poly thread like Coats Duet thread will be fine.

    For seams, I like to use the serger, as the seams have stretch built in automatically, but if you don’t have one, there’s no reason not to use an ordinary sewing machine. One thing I WOULD advise is that you forget the ‘stretch’ or ‘overlock’ stitches on it! Just use a short stitch length and a narrow zigzag: this will build in enough stretch for most purposes. You can neaten the edges with a wider zigzag later if you need to, and trim off the excess seam allowances…

    I advise this as the stretch stitches on an ordinary machine are seriously thread-hungry, tend to be bulky, and feel knobbly! Ugh! AND they stretch less than the zz method! :D

    To help the fabric feed evenly without stretching and distorting, use either a roller foot (one with little wheels in), like this:http://www.bredons.co.uk/roller-foot_3000_293.htm or this: http://i14.ebayimg.com/03/i/000/a6/a2/c488_1.JPG, or a walking foot like this: http://cdn.overstock.com/images/products/P10325047.jpg. This will give you feed teeth on the top as well as under the fabric, and help it to feed through without the presser foot stretching it as you go.

    If you have neither, and still want to try, use the ‘taut sewing’ method: stretch the fabric JUST A TINY BIT with even pressure before and behind the needle. DO NOT pull the fabric through the machine! Let the machine feed the fabric while you stretch it just a bit. This helps the fabric to feed and builds in a little more stretch. It’s fine to use on fabrics with good recovery, like those with Lycra, but not so hot on 100% cotton T shirt fabric as the stitching can add too much bulk and the fabric ripples rather than snapping back…

    Just start slowly, go carefully, and you’ll get there in the end. :)

    As for the type of walking foot… A generic low shank foot should fit. I have three: one Husqvarna one for my Lily 550, a Singer one for other low shank machines, and another independent unbranded one… The Husqvarna one was the most expensive, the independent the cheapest, but the Singer brand proved to be the worst of the bunch! It has a little spring in it that is forever dropping off! If you can run to it, look at some of the better makes and expect to pay about £40+. Otherwise, the Brother feet are good value for money and fit any low shank machine. My three fit all my low shank feet, except for one combination that doesn’t work: the Singer one doesn’t fit the Singer Featherweight! It works best with the Husqvarna one because of the shape and clearances, as the Featherweight is tiny!

    Oh, and 1970’s isn’t old for a Singer! While I have one newer than that, most of my Singers are pre-1960, and some considerably older than that! 1923, for example. :) And yes, I have successfully sewn knits on that 1923 hand cranked straight stitch only machine.

  • Patti_12-28-2011_large

    Nov 28, 2011, 03.58 PMby patti-r

    Kate gave you excellent advice..

    Singers have different types of shanks (many low, some are slant) you need the model number & type of shank if purchasing the walking foot. Types of shanks (has a chart by Nancy Zieman) :


    Test on scraps for stitches, some knits require 2 rows of regular stitching each row sewn separately.

    A thread stand may work for for twin needle stitching, do not recommend using twin needles for side seams but for hems with wooly nylon in bobbin works great, also test on scraps, the tension needs to be loosened.


  • Burda_023_large

    Nov 28, 2011, 04.41 PMby runningwithscissors1

    Thanks so much! This is definately what I need. I think I need to start looking out for a walking foot that will meet the need. Oh, and I know, early 70’s isn’t “old”, I just know that it is just a little more limiting with the lack of different stitches and the size of the swing of the needle. And I very much love my machine (most of the time ;) ).

    Thanks again!

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