Sewing Kit Fabrics on a Sewing Machine: Tips and Tricks for Making Your Own Clothes

Making Your Own Clothes
In the past year or so, we have noticed a huge uptick in people interested in making their own clothes. We love the enthusiasm and the ambition, especially since several of our employees make a lot of their own garments and appreciate the craft. However, as many of you well know, making your own clothes is easier said than done. One facet of garment-making that trips people up is sewing on knits. The intention of this email is shed light on this tricky, yet manageable aspect of making your own clothes.

Knits & Differential Feed

People who make their own clothes sew a lot of knits: sweatshirts, t-shirts, sweaters, etc. Sewing on knits is not the easiest thing in the world. For example, it requires one to pay more attention to the type of needle and thread they are using (e.g. ballpoint needles and polyester thread). However, even when you get the needle and thread right, an additional problem we run into is that knit fabric stretches as it is fed through the machine. Because the knit fabric stretches as it is fed, stitches are made as the fabric is stretched out. This is a problem, as seen in the picture below:
As you can see, because the stitch is made as the fabric is stretched out, the fabric becomes wavy once it relaxes back to its normal form. We definitely do not want this effect on our knits. It is not conducive for a good looking garment. Fortunately for us, innovative sewing machine companies have invented technology to compensate for this problem. One technology in particular that I want to focus on is differential feed. Look at the picture below, where the same piece of knit fabric was sewn on the same serger, but utilized the serger’s differential feed:

A perfect stitch on knit, no wave or distortion, all thanks to differential feed.

So what is differential feed?

In order for a machine to have differential feed, it must have two sets of feed dogs. All home sewing machines only have one set of feed dogs; therefore, home sewing machines cannot offer differential feed. All the sergers we choose to carry have two sets of feed dogs, and do offer differential feed.

Like the name implies, differential feed allows you to differentiate how fast each set of feed dogs feeds the fabric. By having one set of feed dogs feed the fabric faster than the other set, you are able to feed the fabric in such a way that prevents the knit from being stretched as it is fed through the machine. Consequently, you prevent the machine from making a stitch as the knit fabric is stretched out, and avoid the wave/distortion problem.

In our opinion, the best way to sew knits is on a serger equipped with differential feed. We highly recommend Baby Lock sergers, which are Japanese designed and manufactured. In the picture above you can see the differential feed control on a Baby Lock serger.

Baby Lock is a highly innovative company when it comes to sergers. In addition to differential feed, their sergers are also equipped with AirJet threading, which thread the loopers with air instead of threading by hand. They also invented Automatic Thread Delivery, an incredible serger technology that replaces the traditional tension system and creates a consistently perfect stitch, no matter the thread you choose to use.
Remember earlier I said that home sewing machines only have one set of feed dogs and cannot offer differential feed? Well there is one exception to that rule. Janome invented a revolutionary type of walking foot, dubbed AcuFlex Dual Feed. With Acuflex Dual Feed, there is a second set of feed dogs attached to the walking foot that feed in conjunction the traditional feed dogs. Therefore, Janome models that are compatible with Acuflex Dual Feed Technology do have two sets of feed dogs, which allow the user to sew knits with differential feed.
We hope this email helps you better understand your machine and the benefits of utilizing differential feed when sewing on knits. If you have any questions about different techniques or machines, please feel free to give us a call so we can help you out.
Call us at (925)937-7575 for more information.
Our hours are 9AM-5PM Tuesday-Saturday
And don’t forget to tell your friends!
Sewing Machine Shop
1661 Botelho Drive, Suite 180
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
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