Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Sew a Flatlock Stitch with Your Serger

After last week's post about my yoga pants, I had a lot of questions about how I did the flatlock stitching that you saw. (See that post here.)  Today I am going to share with you how I did it.If you have a serger, you can do it. You don't need any other special equipment.

Flatlocking was one of the things that was on my list of things I have been wanting to learn, but I was a little intimidated by it. And when I turned to the internet for tips, as I often do, I didn't find much. So I am excited to share with you my technique. I would love to hear how this works for you and see what you make with it.
You can see the flatlock stitching here on these yoga pants.

What is Flatlock Stitching?
Okay, so first, what is flatlock stitching, or flatlocking? A flatlock stitch is so named because it makes a stitch that is flat. The fabrics at the seam will either be butted up against each other or will overlap each other inside the seam so that there is no seam allowance on the inside. This is a nice feature when you have garments that are tight-fitting and/or when they will be seeing a lot of movement close to the body. This way, there is no seam on the inside to cause chafing or discomfort. So, this stitch is most often seen on activewear and swimsuits.

3-Thread Flatlock Stitch with your Serger
For this tutorial, I am going to talk specifically about using your serger to do a 3-thread flatlock stitch at a seam. Some machines are capable of doing a 2-thread flatlock stitch. There are also ways to use the flatlock stitch on a fabric fold for a decorative effect outside of a seam. I'm not going to get into those stitches today. Also, know that many clothing manufacturers use a specialty flatlocking machine to get those perfect stitches you see on store-bought garments. So, our stitch will be a good imitation of that, but it's not exactly the same.

The stitch we are going to make with this tutorial will look like loops on one side and ladders, or parallel lines, on the other side. You can use either one you like for the right side. I like the sporty look of the loops on the outside. Inside this stitch, the seam allowances will overlap and lay flat on top of each other.

*Edit - Note that this tutorial shows a lapped flatlock seam as opposed to a butted seam. This means that the seam allowances overlap each other instead of butting against each other. Thus, the stitch is not entirely flat, but it is much stronger than a butted flatlock stitch and shouldn't allow skin or underlayers to show through the seam when stretched. 

Sewing the Flatlock Stitch

1) Set up your machine: You will want your machine set up so that you are using only one needle, usually in the far left position. Now, you will want to adjust your tensions so that the needle tension is very low, the upper looper tension is normal, and the lower looper tension is high. On my Brother 1034D, the tensions look like this (4 is standard):
Left Needle: 1
Right Needle: -
Upper Looper: 4
Lower Looper: 7

Of course, you will want to practice this on scraps until the tension seems right to you. It will be a little different for each machine and for each fabric.

2) Sew your seam together.  Use your regular presser foot and keep your knife engaged. You will want to make sure you are cutting off some of the fabric at the edge. Of course, at this point, your tensions will not look normal and you may have loops hanging off the edge of your fabric. That's okay.

3) After you pull your fabric out from under your machine, you can grab each side and gently pull your fabric apart until the seam is flat. 

Important Tips to Remember

  • Before you sew, you will need to decide whether you prefer to have the loops or ladders on the outside of your garment. If you sew the garment as usual, with right sides together, you will get the ladders on the right side and your needle thread will show. If you sew with wrong sides together, you will see the decorative loops on the right side of the fabric and the upper looper thread will be visible.
  • Seam Allowance - You may need to adjust the seam allowance from your pattern. Since we are going to pull that seam allowance apart and overlap it, you will gain back some room in your seam. I could try to go into the math here, but just trust me when I say you will want to add about 1/8" to your seam allowance.
  • Leave long thread tails - Make sure to leave long thread tails at the beginning and end of your seam. The tension used for this stitch will cause the stitches to want to bunch up a bit and they will stretch out later. Make sure you stretch them out gently before you go over them with another stitch. And make sure you leave enough thread tails so that your stitch won't come undone at the ends when you do this. The longer your seam, the longer your thread tails will need to be. 
  • Reinforce - It is a good idea to reinforce any high stress areas like the crotch and armpit area with another stitch, like a zigzag stitch for extra strength. Also, check any areas where your flatlock stitch crosses another seam. These areas can be tricky, so reinforce these places if necessary.
  • Get the fit right - It is really hard to adjust your seam after you have sewn it with a flatlock stitch. You don't want to have to unpick it if you can help it! So, it may be a good idea to sew up a practice garment first, so that you won't have to adjust the fit later.
  • Fabric Choice - This stitch may be hard to do with very lightweight fabrics. You may want to choose a heavier weight fabric. Fabrics that do not have a lot of curl will also be easier to handle.
  • Practice! It's always a good idea to practice on lots of scraps first. This is a good way to get your technique down, and also to make sure your tensions are right. 

I would love to hear what you think. If you try this out, leave me a comment and let me know what you've made. Links to things you have made with this technique would be great, too. Thanks!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yoga Mom Pants

Today I get the chance to tell you about another new pattern being released today - the Yoga Mom* pants from Peekaboo Patterns*. Get yours for 15% off today only. No code needed. You can also check out the new Cascade Jacket being released today for 15% off.

I got a chance to test this pattern last week, too. Yes, I was busy last week. I'm not sure what happened. I put my name in to test patterns all the time and never get picked. And for some reason I got picked for these two pattern tests at the same time.

The pattern is for stretchy pants with a yoga waistband. It has options for shorts, capris, or pants and comes in sizes XXS- XXXL (00-24). The pants have a slight bootcut. And there are directions for adding a pocket in the waistband - choose from a small key pocket or a pocket sized to fit a phone.

Check it out! I have never had yoga pants that fit my phone before! Take that name brand activewear!

These pants are easy and quick to sew up with only a few seams. And even the pocket was easy to sew up. I didn't really know anything about sewing these type of pockets, but the directions are very straightforward and easy to follow.

Did you notice I flatlocked those seams? It's actually not as hard as you would think and you can do it on almost any regular serger. Another post, perhaps?

And let me tell you what - these pants are so comfortable. Makes me want to do some yoga.

I'm not usually into wild patterns, but I found this great fabric in black and blue stripes and I actually really like it. What do you think?

Update: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I may recieve a small commission, but it does not change the cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Love Notions Willow Wrap Dress and Top

Love Notions is releasing two new pattern today - the Willow Wrap Top and and Willow Wrap Dress. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the link and discount code.

I was lucky enough to be on the testing team for this pattern and I sewed up this amazing new dress.

This dress has several options. The pattern has a crossover bodice and comes with directions for making a dress with cute pleats on the side or a more streamlined look without the pleats. There is even an option for a lower neckline and modesty panel that is perfect for nursing mothers. And there are options for three different sleeve lengths - short, 3/4, or long sleeves. So this pattern can take you through every season of the year.

There is also a pattern for a wrap style top. The top can be a basic wrap top or one with an asymmetrical drape in the front. So many options!

Love Notions patterns come with a layer feature so that you can print only your size. The pattern is easy to print and put together. And the tutorial is designed for easy viewing on a tablet, complete with hyperlinks to each part of the tutorial, so that you can save printing out the directions.

It was a fun experience getting to test this pattern. So interesting to see part of the designer's process in getting the pattern ready for release. I know that she has been working hard to ensure that this dress is a perfect fit for everyone.

Get your patterns here: Love Notions Sewing Patterns. (affiliate link). Use coupon code 'willow' for 15% off. You can also buy both the dress and top pattern bundled for 25% off. Limited time only.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Baby Clothes! - Onesie Dresses + Cardigans + Leggings

I wanted to share with you another project that I spent much of December working on - baby clothes. These were for my two nieces for Christmas. They are about 3 months and 6 months right now, so I made these a little bigger so that they could grow into them. Problem was, I couldn't decide what size to make. And when I finally decided (I made a 12 month, and an 18 month), it's hard to figure out when they will grow into it and I don't know what season it will be. Surely, I'm not the only one who is so indecisive, right? So, in the end I got carried away and decided to make short sleeve dresses, but I decided they had to have leggings and cardigans to go with it. I don't get that many chances to make baby clothes, so I had fun making all of it. Baby are just so cute, and so are their clothes!

I started out with the idea that I wanted to make these onesie dresses. I loved these when my daughter was a baby. They are comfy and cute, but most importantly, they stay in place and don't ride up when your little one is wiggly.

Once I had these done, the leggings and cardigans went together super fast and easy.

The pieces all coordinate, so they can be mixed and matched.

I love how they turned out and I can't wait for these little babies to grow into them so I can see them wear their outfits!

    Onesie pattern: Lullaby Lap Tee and Bodysuit from Peekaboo Patterns*, modified to add skirt
    Cardigan: V Neck Cardigan from Peekaboo Patterns*
    Leggings: Lollipop Leggings from Peekaboo Patterns*

Update: This post contains affiliate links, which are marked with an asterisk. If you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission, but it does not change the cost to you. Thank you for supporting this blog. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas Sewing - Hats

Well, it's been quiet on the blog for a few weeks. That's because it wasn't quiet around here. It was crazy. I sewed a ton leading up to Christmas, but didn't get time to photograph or blog it all. But over the next few days, I'm going to give you a peek at some of what I was up to.

One of the things I sewed a lot of this year was hats. They are so quick and easy they make a great go-to gift.

I made six of these Snow Day Hats* from Peek-a-boo Patterns. Made from anti-pill fleece that was on sale at Joanns for $3/yd. Makes an awesome gift.

Also made one Lullaby Line Hat*, also from Peek-a-boo for my friend's 7 month old baby.

And, unfortunately I didn't get a picture, since I literally sewed it the night before I had to wrap it, but I also made my sister-in-law a twisted beanie from Filles a Maman. It turned out really cute and I might make one for myself next. The twist in the beanie makes it a little more interesting and special, but it was still really quick to make.

(Affliate links are marked with an asterisk. I may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. It does not affect the price to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!)