A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A stack of Strathconas and coverstitch love

So, I may have mentioned my new coverstitch machine once or twice.  In the seven months I've been using it, I've hemmed more than 50 knit garments.  And not one of those hems has broken.

Not one.

This is huge.

Having a coverstitch machine has been a game changer for me.  I have not purchased a single knit garment for anyone in my family since I started using it.

Before, I would sew the t-shirts and the leggings, but it was usually an exercise in frustration.  My sewing machine, I suspect, hates knits more than most sewing machines.  Despite my best efforts and all the tricks in the book (stretch stitch, walking foot, stretch needle, ballpoint needle, Microtex needle, universal needle, knit stay tape, regular stay tape, Wonder tape, tissue paper, Woolly Nylon, etc.- seriously, I have tried everything); no matter what, the machine would still skip stitches and chew up and/or build giant poopy birds' nests under my fabric. The tension would be uneven, and sometimes it would just stop sewing altogether.  And still, I would muddle through, get it done and make it work. But then a day/week/month later the hem would break and then the garment would molder in my mending pile forever.  And because I hate mending, often my kids would outgrow the clothes before I took care of them.  Wasted time, wasted fabric.  And this made me more apt to throw a few t-shirts into my cart at the thrift store.

But now? Between my serger (Brother 1034D) and my coverstitch (Brother 2340CV), I can sew all the knits. I can use hem bands if I want to, but if I don't want to, I am free to turn up and coverstitch any old hem I please. The coverstitch is not fiddly to thread like my serger, so changing threads really isn't a big deal.  And I use it all the time.

For me, the coverstitch made sense.  My kids and I live in knits, and for Natasha and myself especially, it's not easy to find tees and leggings that fit properly.  I love being able to sew them for us, and now I love not having to mend them. If you sew a lot of knits and have trouble with popping hems, I'm here to tell you that the coverstitch is a worthwhile investment and that you really won't regret getting one.

Recently I used the coverstitch to finish three Thread Theory Strathcona tees that I made my husband earlier this month.  Like any smart fabricaholic, I used J's lack of enthusiasm vis a vis the fabric I chose for his first Strathcona, to buy more fabric.  I made sure there was an orange knit in the bunch for my neutral-hating husband.

I sewed the shirts in a size medium again.  I shortened all the sleeves by 3" and hemmed them up 1/2".  The length on the orange tee is per the pattern; the other two are shortened by 1".

His first comment upon trying them on was, "Wow, these are stretchy." I guess he doesn't have much experience wearing Lycra, but as he has to use his right arm to stuff his left through the sleeve, the stretch actually makes it easier for him to put these on.  Score one for wife-made shirts.

The knits are all from The Fabric Fairy, except for the mustard neckband on the light blue shirt, which is Art Gallery knit in Sahara Sun.  The light blue and the charcoal are both beefy 10 oz knits with excellent recovery.  They are fabulous - a rare cotton/lycra knit that is truly thick and stretchy enough to make durable kid leggings - and I plan to order more of the charcoal for just that purpose. I have no affiliation with The Fabric Fairy - I just think these are really high-quality fabrics.

Since I made these, J has been wearing them whenever he's home.  That makes me happy, and I'll make him a few long-sleeved ones in the fall.


  1. Love the t-shirts! The color combinations on the orange and light blue shirt look great! When (if) I start sewing again, I want to invest in a coverstitch machine. My seams and topstitching are fine but the hems done with a double needle never seem to last. They look nice but after a while the stitching comes undone.

  2. Love the tees! Sounds like extra stretch is a really good thing at the moment! I still have so much to learn and try when it comes to sewing knits! Not sure I am ready to invest into a coverstitch machine yet though hehe

  3. ...coverstitch is next on the list. i really wasn't a huge fan of the brother 1034D serger and ended up finding a used Bernina (for a steal!). my experience it that makes me hesitant to buy another brother machine. your hems are gorgeous though!! lots to think about :)

    1. So, I do like my Brother serger but if I were to buy a coverstitch again, I would go for the Janome. The Brother feels a bit rickety and the free arm that it lacks (and which the Janome has) would be very useful.

  4. This makes me want a coverstitch machine!
    Great tees!

  5. YOU MAY HAVE JUST CONVINCED ME TO GET A COVERSTITCH. I am absolutely swooning over those neckline perfections. Just beautiful!

  6. So cool, the coverstitch! I mostly use the twin needle and those seams always break within a week. I think I'll have to start saving money to buy myself a coverstitch machine.

  7. those finishes look perfect! so beautifully neat and tidy :)


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