How have I sewed this long and never used a walking foot? It is my new favorite thing. It is genius:
So what exactly is a walking foot? It’s a foot attachment for your sewing machine that has a set of grippy feed dogs on it, so that it grips the fabric under the needle from the top (just like the feed dogs below the needle grip from underneath.)
Yesterday I was hacking up a T-shirt for a work colleague and struggling with the slippery seams. The new machine has speed control and it wasn’t eating the thin fabric like my old Singer would enjoy (delicious thin fabrics!) but the seam was rippling and stretching.
Part of sewing is experimentation, and I decided to try out the walking foot. I turned to the page in the user’s manual on how to install it, but it was pretty easy. You remove the current foot from the shank entirely (meaning you do not just snap this attachment on, it screws to the metal shank) and voila. There’s a little bar that sits above the needle bar and the whole thing then moves along on its own, keeping the fabric in place as you sew.
After the first three stitches I was a convert — suddenly slippery knit fabrics that seemed to grow longer and longer as I sewed were stable and seamed up perfectly.
I still use my “vintage” Singer sewing machine, and now I really want a walking foot for that machine, too. I decided to dig through the accessories that came with Joe’s mom’s terrible machine but there was no walking foot attachment in the box. I’m thinking I might buy this very reasonably priced walking foot on Amazon to keep on my Singer for heavier knits. Now that I have stumbled upon this awesome thing I can’t imagine not using it for knits.
But Don’t You Need A Fancy Serger For Knits?
No. You do not need a serger to sew knit fabrics. I do not own a serger (yet! let’s keep hope alive!) and up until my recent Janome machine addition, I sewed everything on a mechanical, old school Singer machine with two stitches — straight and zigzag.
For seams, I use a zigzag stitch and for hems I do a straight stitch twice around to mimic the look of a coverstitch or serger machine. A lot of folks use a twin needle to achieve the coverstitch/serger hem look but I have not been brave enough yet to try one one. Who know, maybe that will be my next experiment.
Sunday Sewing Day Is Pretty Much My Dream Right Now
The walking foot got quite a work out yesterday! I finished up a dress, hemmed/hacked four T-shirts and mended a skirt. The first T-shirt hack was my favorite project (I posted a ton of pics on instagram). We’ve been working with a design shop for a new Apple TV thing at work, and they gave us some branded T-shirts last week. Beth gave me hers to customize and I turned it into a cropped hoodie 🙂
I cut the bottom 13″ off the shirt and used my hoodie template to cut a hood out of the discarded bottom portion. After removing the shirt’s neckband, I re-attached the hood to the shirt at the neckline. I also made the neckline into more of a V-neck, so it’s a little roomier at the neck.
If I had a serger this project probably would have taken half the time, since I wouldn’t have had to finish the seams. But on a thin material like this one, you have to take care with the seams or they all curl in, so I did a wide but tight zigzag (Stitch width 5, stitch length 1.5) along the edge of every seam. It came out awesome!
I turned this T-shirt into a little cropped top hoodie today for @allynbeth and it came out extra cute! This was a freebie tee from you.i, a Canadian design company we’re working with on a current project. I cut off the bottom, made it into a hoodie, and attached it to the top. #sewing #mojo #craftyAF
Beth had brought me a whole bag of sewing projects, so I customized a few other T-shirts for her this weekend. Mostly I evened up armhole cutouts and necklines with my rotary cutter, but on the one below, I cut the sleeves off to make it into a tank. Then I cut the shirt apart at the shoulders, twisted the fabric over and re-sewed the shoulders. I think it adds a cute touch that looks more polished than your average T-shirt hack.
And I finally finished my print dress. A project for myself, this dress has been sitting on my to-do pile for ages. I made up most of the dress a few months ago, but ran out of time to finish it. The back seam had rippled (this was pre-walking-foot!) and I knew I needed to fix the seams and the side shaping but I needed time.
A Sunday sewing day was just what this dress needed. And a walking foot for that back hem!
This dress was an experiment. I used my homemade tunic pattern that I copied from a favorite top in my closet and tried to lengthen it into a dress. The shape of the skirt isn’t quite what I intended but it’s still wearable. My closet is a sea of black, so I have decided to add pattern and color to my wardrobe this year and yep, this dress certainly has both. It’s a cotton interlock fabric from Joanne’s — the Doodles line of fabrics. I have fallen in love with all things Doodles, just be sure to wash and dry it before you sew. It shrinks like crazy that first wash.
Knits are my jam. I love them.
Some Other Tips for Working with Knits:
Wonder Tape. Before The Magical Walking Foot Discovery of yesterday afternoon, I used wash-away Wonder Tape to keep knits in place for seaming (especially on the hem.) It is the most useful thing in my sewing toolbox! I never put in a zipper without it. It’s a sticky, double-sided tape that washes away in water and won’t gum up your machine needle. This is the brand I use.
Tissue Paper. Super old school, but it works. You know the paper that comes in a gift box? Put a single sheet of that tissue paper underneath your seam as you sew. You do have to tear it away after but it works like a charm. You’ll also have to change your needle more frequently. This tip is good for sewing with chiffons, too, and any thin or slippery fabric. I have to use the tissue paper trick for anything less than a heavyweight fabric on my Singer or it eats the fabric. (Now I have the Walking Foot, though. Seriously! Never going back.)
Stabilizers. You can also buy a tear-away or water soluble stabilizer instead of tissue paper but it’s a lot more expensive.
Newspaper. This is a trick for cutting your fabric without it slipping on you. Lay out single layer sheets of old newspaper and then place your fabric on top. Trace your pattern pieces onto the fabric with chalk or a fabric marker. Then cut out your pattern pieces together with the newspaper. This one is a good/bad trick because using sewing scissors to cut paper dulls them. I have a few pairs of sharp Fiskars that use for this method and I re-sharpen them with a scissor-sharpening tool I got on amazon.
In Conclusion! Finally!
Sewing Sunday was the best Sunday I have had in ages. I love project days. Next weekend I plan to do another sewingfest, and this time I want to make a few new tops for an upcoming trip. I’ve been looking at the Casmerette Concord (sized for bigger boobies!) and the Patterns For Pirates Slim-Fit Raglan, which is the one I am probably going to make because I am digging the sleeve contrast opportunities.
Sew much possibility! (Ugh, sorry. I couldn’t resist. It was sew tempting.)