Sweater quilt: sewing

Q:  What kind of needle works best for making a sweater quilt?

A:  Choose a size 80/12

ball point needle.

ball point needles

Q:  What kind of thread should I use?

A:  I used 50-weight, 3-ply,

100 percent cotton thread in matching colors.

Load a bobbin with every color if you are matching.

Load a bobbin with every color if you are matching.

Q:  What presser foot is suitable for stitching sweater patches?

A:  Use the foot recommended

for the type of stretch stitch you’ve selected. For the stretch overlock stitch I chose, the manual indicated the reverse pattern foot, which is the standard, all-purpose foot that came with the machine.

This presser foot was both good and bad. Good because it covered most of the seam allowance, keeping it flat and relatively under control, but it offered poor visibility.

This presser foot was both good and bad. Good because it covered most of the seam allowance, keeping it flat and relatively under control, but it offered poor visibility.

Q:  Did you make adjustments to the default settings on the stretch stitch you chose?

A:  Yes.

I reduced the width a bit and increased the length. Decide your preference by sewing on scraps, not your patches. Mining for stitches in sweater knits is not fun.

stitch settings

Q:  What tension adjustments are necessary for sewing on sweater knits?

A:  I had to make adjustments

in both top and bobbin tension.

Because tension settings differ from one machine to the next, load different colors in the top and bobbin and run tests on sweater scraps. Make notes as you go. Record your tension settings in a safe place; if you switch to another project before you finish sewing your sweaters, you will not have to repeat the test.

Q:  Anything else?

A: Yes!

The other machine adjustment noted in the manual that I missed until about halfway through sewing was to reduce the presser foot pressure. This helps prevent the fabric from stretching as it feeds. On my machine the adjustment is made with a dial located on the left side.

pressure dial

Also, remember to install your standard throat plate—the one designated for zigzag and decorative stitches.

zigzag throat plate

Q: What’s the procedure for sewing the patches together?

A:  Draw a chalk line ½”

from the raw edge of the patch that will be overlapped.

mark

Align the raw edge of the unmarked patch with the drawn line

overlap

and pin:

pin

Stitch slowly and carefully. For this example, I used brown thread on top and blue in the bobbin.

stitch

Here is the finished seam:

finished

When you’ve completed the stretch stitch, it’s time to secure the seam allowance on the reverse side of your patchwork unit. Install your straight stitch throat plate

straight stitch throat plate

and walking foot. Switch your thread colors; what was in the bobbin now goes on top and vice versa. Increase the stitch length to about 3.5 mm. Flip the unit over and stitch as closely as possible to the raw edge of the patch.

walking foot

Q: Why did you use a straight stitch to secure the seam allowance on the wrong side of the patchwork unit?

A:  I said before that a straight

stitch does not work well on stretchy fabrics but I decided to use it opposite the stretch overlock stitch for a couple of reasons, the first one being aesthetic. I just didn’t care for the way dual stretch overlock seams looked (see photo below), nor did I like how two of them positioned so closely together bulked up the seam.

stretch overlock both sides

Also, the straight stitching was within ¼” to ⅜” of the stretch stitch. With the two being that close together, I felt the stretch stitch was already performing the bulk of the heavy lifting in supporting the seam, so the straight stitching would be safe to use opposite it.

stretch and straight stitch

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