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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Refashion Tips: Shortening stretch or tee shirt fabric

Recently we unveiled Castaway to Couture an an exciting, national refashioning competition, open to the public, ASG members & Red Cross people too! Castaway to Couture is brought to you by the Australian Sewing Guild Inc. in collaboration with Red Cross Shops. Entries are open and we have our resident refashioning genie, Judith Turner here, with the sixth in a series of tips. Take it away Judith.........

So you have been rummaging through the Red Cross Stores and came across a really great

dress, but it is too long. AND on top of that it is a stretch fabric. How do you shorten a

stretch fabric dress without it puckering or damaging the fabric?

Well you create what I call an imitation cover stitch hem using your trusty old domestic

sewing machine. Yes it is true. All you need is a few tips on how to do this successfully.

1. Always use a Stretch 75/11 Schmetz needle. I have tried others and I am sorry to say

for them, that I always came back to the Schmetz and I always use a 75/11 Stretch for

all my stretch sewing.

2. If you have a single plastic button hole foot use that. The Janome have a clear plastic

one which is what I use. This is a small foot, not the one that you put the button in. If

your machine does not have one, try a Teflon foot. The metal foot will tend to DRAG

the fabric.

3. If at all possible, overlock the edge. DO NOT FOLD. This creates too much DRAG

on the machine. I would honestly suggest cutting it to the length you want, allow for

the hem allowance 2.5 cm (1 in) is sufficient, and take it to a clothing alteration shop

and ask them to overlock it for you. It might cost you $5 or $10 but will be worth it.


them to move the only needle left into the left hand side position. And to only use


Why? An overlocker can do four or more threads. But the fourth thread is a safety

stitch for when you are sewing Lycra or stretch fabric, as in making a garment. For

example if I was making a tee shirt, I would put four threads on the overlocker, and

hardly use my sewing machine as all. The fourth thread will stop the fabric from

stretching which means no give.

4. Use a quality thread – Guttermann or Rasant are the best.


Turn the t-shirt inside out and iron up the hem allowance, measuring at intervals, so that you

have the exact 2.5 – 3cm (1 – 11/4in) all the way around and make sure you have the side

seams matching. DO NOT PIN – just iron.

It is possible to stitch the hem to give the same professional finish as the cover stitch without

using a cover stitch machine.

Some people use a twin-needle but it will pucker the fabric in between the stitches, and

creates a zig zag on the opposite side.

Make sure you have a Schmetz 75/11 stretch needle. Thread the machine with a matching

colour to the garment fabric and of a good quality; cheaper threads can cause tension

problems and thread or needle breakage. Set the machine to a stitch length of 3 or a medium

range stitch length.

Now we sew Topside (top right pic). To sew TOPSIDE, turn the garment right side out and place under the machine. By sewing ‘topside’ the overlocking has stabilised the stretch fabric and will stop the feed dogs dragging the fabric, causing it to twist.

Position the hem so the first row of stitching is through the MIDDLE of the overlocking on the opposite side.

Measure the width of the other twin stitching on the garment. There are usually two widths – narrow and medium. Narrow will mean positioning the foot on the edge of the first row of stitching. Medium will mean positioning the left hand side of the foot over the top of the stitching so it runs through the middle of the left arm of the foot (bottom right pic). TIP: Practice a few times on scraps of fabric to ensure the positioning of the first row of stitching is catching the overlocking.

Happy altering
Judith aka genie

Keep an eye on this blog for more hints, tips and ideas! We want to keep you buzzing with ideas, so not only will you hear from Judith, we will have some inspirational blogs to check out. This week, we suggest checking out Refashionista, So, Zo and The Pineneedle Collective. Have a great week, we can't wait to see your entries!

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