Searching for a Twin Needle Source

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I have been wanting to use a twin needle on my sewing machine so that I can approximate a professional looking hem on knit garments.

For those of you who read my blog just because you like me and not because you sew... A twin needle is two needles side by side, stuck together onto one shaft that goes into the machine. Now take the t-shirt you are wearing (I know you are wearing one) and look at the stitching along the bottom edge. It's highly likely that there are two (or three) rows of stitches there. Now, flip the fabric over and look at the back of that row of stitching. It likely has threads looping and crossing over all over the place. This kind of stitch is made with either a serger or a coverstitch machine. You can use a regular sewing machine with a twin needle to make the top side look the same, but the bottom will just have one thread zig-zagging back and forth like this: VVVVVVV

I really want to get a twin needle to work so that I can lay aside my desire for a serger or coverstitch machine. I bought a twin needle (the only one offered at whatever fabric store I was in) and finally tried it on my machine. Of course, problems arose.

My sewing machine manual has no information about using a twin needle, so I did the best I could to thread the thing (you need two spools of thread on top and one bobbin below) and gave it a go on a scrap of fabric. Holy! You wouldn't believe the problems! Thread pulling all wonky everywhere, thread shredding, fabric getting stuck, thread from the top two spools gettting wound around the bobbin case, etc, etc.

So I swore a little bit and then hit my sewing websites. No help. Seriously. A few people over at Pattern Review tried to offer suggestions, but nothing helped (or was relevant). Everyone seemed mystified at my problem. I thought maybe there was something particular about my machine, so I read the reviews of my machine on Pattern Review and then checked out the website of the company who makes my machine. Less and less help. Seriously, if you ever decide to buy a sewing machine first check out the company's website to see what kind of support they offer.

Then I jumped through hoops to send direct messages to the people who had reviewed my machine on Pattern Review. I only received one response and that person had never tried using a twin needle.

So I called my less-than-helpful "local" (in Richmond - that's a half-hour drive in good traffic) dealer of Janome sewing machines. Of course, their sewing machine person was on holiday (who are all the other people there, I always wonder), but they gave me a toll free number to a sister company in Ontario. I called there, but their sewing machine person wasn't there either (surprise, surprise), but would be in the following two days.

I called back and the woman I spoke with had very little idea of what I was trying to do and why it wasn't working. She hunted around for another dealer in my general area to call, and ended up giving me the number to a warehouse in Abbottsford. I called there and was given yet another phone number of a sewing machine shop in Surrey. Called the Surrey shop and finally spoke to someone who sounded competent and pleasant. She invited me to come in anytime and they would try to solve my twin needling problems.

I went in. (It's a long drive and I got stuck in traffic because of a very bad traffic accident, but I did make it there well before closing.) The woman who helped me was very kind and seemed competant, but she did blanch a little when she found out that I was wanting to sew knits. She even asked me if I really wanted to sew on such stretchy material. I thought, "What? Such stretchy material? It's not swimsuit fabric or anything! Just a cotton-lycra blend, for crying out loud! It only stretches crosswise at that!" Of course, all I said was, "Yes, I am making knit tops."

Well, she puts my twin needle in. She threads it just like I had done. Then she runs a test on a woven fabric. My machine runs like a dream except that it isn't making a zig zag on the back. After a few more tests on woven fabric (and everything runs smoothly the whole time) we determine that in order to get a zig zag across the back I have to crank my top thread tension all the way up and that I probably should get a new bobbin case to use specifically for twin needling and loosen the tension on it.

Then she runs a test on my stretchy fabric. And we have problems again. I am momentarily crestfallen. Then the woman looks at my needle case and says, well, no wonder you are having trouble, this twin needle isn't ball point - it's not made to sew through knit fabric.

I about sank into the floor with embarassment. I know that I am supposed to use a ball point needle on knit fabrics. I learned that when I was just watching my mother sew decades ago. It didn't even occur to me to think about this when I purchased my twin needle. There was only one offered, so I bought that one.

So today I have been cruising around looking for ball point twin needles. I have found them online for about $4.50 plus shipping (and waiting), and locally for about $7 plus gas (and childcare). That's about a wash in my book.

Do any of you know where I could order ball point twin needles for less than $4.50 a piece?

RTW Top Copied!

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I have been wanting to do this for a long time. On Monday I had thought about it enough, I guess. Inspiration hit. I dug through my fabric stash for a remnant that would be suitable for a muslin and away I went!

Here is the old top on me. It is one of my favourites. I bought about four years ago it at a local shop called Paranada. The fabric is a factory pin-tucked cotton and the garment is cut on the bias. It looks like a halter, but the back has a T shape. You can probably can see it is a bit too small around and a bit too short.

But I love wearing it. I love that it is comfortable and that the fabric skims over my belly without clinging. I feel more "dressed" when I wear this top because the fabric is woven, not knit. There fore, this seemed like a good candidate for my first RTW copy attempt.

Because this top is so simple, I just laid it out (folded) on pieces of tissue and traced around it. I did have to move the top around a bit as I was tracing it to get the fabric to lie flat, but this worked just fine.

Essentially this top has four elements: the front (cut on the fold), the back (with a center back seam), bias tape (to finish the neck and arms), and thread (to hold it all together!). I added 1/4" to the side seams on both the front and back, since I knew it needed to be a bit larger.

My muslin fabric is a remnant of unknown fabric content. I had previously used the fabric for a curtain (which didn't turn out well, because this fabric is too drapey). I barely had enough to make the top. In fact, I had to sew a scrap to the last bit of the fabric just to have enough room to cut out one of the back pieces. You can see that in one of the pictures below.

The initial stitching together turned out pretty well. I wanted the neckline lower, so I carved a bit more out there. I also wanted to try the bias tape finishing, just to work out any kinks there, so I went ahead and finished the garment.

The bias tape is leftover home made from a batiked quilting cotton. I didn't have quite enough to finish it the way the RTW top was finished (at the back of the neck), but it doesn't show, and I know what to do for the next time.

Here is the finished top on. I like it a lot! I even think the colour is okay on me. I may wear it tomorrow!

Now, I probably could add another 1/4" to the side seams at the bust to give a bit more room. When I make this top again, I will remember to staystitch the edges to keep them from stretching.

On the whole I'd call this first attempt at copying RTW a success!

No Sewing Wednesday

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Wednesday is usually my sewing day. David stays home with the kids and I get things done that I can't or don't like to get done with them about.

I have two or three more garments that I intend to make, but we are preparing to move in seven weeks, two of the three items are jackets/coats (which I have never done before), I am waiting for the four Jalie patterns I ordered to arrive, and we are going away this weekend and camping in a couple of weeks and we need sleeping gear. So my plan for today didn't involve sewing from the start.

I planned to run around town buying sleeping bags and foam/mats for the kids and us. And maybe getting together with my friend who has recently adopted a 10 month old.

Then around 7 this morning I got sick. And continued to stay sick all day, despite taking medicine and eating a banana and a few crackers. Fortunately, David is already home today - he is not technically missing work , so I don't have to feel bad about him getting even farther behind.

I have spent the day lying in bed with my computer. What a blessing it is to be able to read! I have cruised the internet to my heart's delight. Here are some new things I have found.

First off I have been looking for a simple knit shorts pattern to use for summer PJs and maybe jogging. The trouble is that I really don't want to purchase another pattern. (And I hadn't found anything that I really like.) Enter Threadbanger

OK, so I am NOT in my teens or twenties. I am not punk or anything similar. But I am totally caught by the simplicity and the recycling of it. I wonder if they would work. It wouldn't hurt to try.

And speaking of not being in my teens or twenties anymore (and thus, not being able to wear just anything anymore) I stumbled upon MyShape, a website that has you put in your measurements (fairly detailed measurements) and then diagnoses your body shape and makes suggestions for clothing that will suit your body. You also are asked for your style preferences and fiber preferences. I have sent Lucy downstairs to find my measuring tape so that I can find out if the suggestions seem reasonable.

More later, hopefully.

Later--- Clara started vomiting this afternoon and has continued to do so about every 10-20 minutes since.
I did manage to take most of the myriad of measurements requested by myshape, and the result is (drumroll) my shape is an H. No surprise there. I do like many of the items they have suggested for an H, so it proves its worth as a tool to help select patterns to sew.

Still later--- Clara appears to have stopped vomiting for a while. I need to actually sleep, but I might see if I can convince David to warm up some rice for me first. In between rounds of vomiting I stumbled upon another great sewing blog! It's called jules' stitchin'. Check it out!

A Kid Post - Photos and a Rap

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Yesterday, Lucy and I went to the Car-Free Vancouver Day Festival in our neighbourhood. We came back with a $5 silk skirt to make into a halter dress (for her) and a pink straw cowboy hat.

Here you also see the belt Lucy fashioned a few days ago
using my measuring tape and a purple butterfly hairclip.

Then Peter decided that he wanted to go too just to get his face painted.

I took photos of both, then Clara wanted me to take a picture of her, too.

I was checking my email and my brother sent me a link that I want to share with you all (because I am such a proud Aunt). My nephew wrote a rap on the eleven systems of the human body. My brother helped him polish it and played the music for it. They recorded it and stuck it on a web page. My nephew's school posted it on their website as well! Really, truly cool for a 7th grader. Here's the rap on it's own page. And here it is on the school's web page (about mid-way down on the right).

BWOF 05-2007-124

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Hooray! My spaghetti strap dress is finished and I am wearing it currently!

(Note the lapped zipper (my first)!
I fussed and fussed with an invisible zipper which I finally got inserted,
only to have it break when I was trying to zip it past the piping.)

It's great and I love it! It's comfortable (which I hadn't expected). I guess that's the difference when you can make something to fit yourself. (It also helps that I have a comfortable strapless bra - there's something to be said for undergarments that fit well, too.)

I need to thank Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic for sending me my very first copy of BWOF (Burda now has this pattern in their envelope collection, too). I do enjoy winning a giveaway!

The pink/coral eyelet is an Anne Klein fabric that I bought at Josephine's Dry Goods in Portland Oregon. The linig fabric is a cotton batiste from Mill End in Portland. Hooray for the PR Weekend! The piping is a Michael Miller quilting cotton purchased here at Dressew. (By the way I have PILES of bias tape made from this quilting cotton because I overestimated how much fabric I would need. If anyone is interested in it, I'll measure it.)

Instant Gratification!

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Due to technical difficulties, I haven't been able to post (or review) the top that I made last Wednesday. Here it is... Jalie 2682

I tried cutting it a bit smaller this time, but it appears to be hugging my belly chub in a way that I don't like, so I think next time I'll move up a size. I will also add a bit to the bottom edge of the center front of the bodice to get the seam to look more like an empire waist (although my fabric choice may be playing a part here, too - it doesn't have the vertical stretch called for).

But overall, it is comfortable and QUICK! It is perfect for Vancouver where it usually isn't crazy hot so the double layer on the top is welcome. One of my friends said, "I like it. It's sleeveless, but it doesn't look like you are wearing your underwear out in public."


I finished my next garment today and I plan to wear it tomorrow. Here's a sneak peek!

BWOF 05-2009-114

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Done and wearing it currently!

This dress was totally slapdash as I forgot to get a few basic things like MATCHING THREAD. Silly.

Anyway, here are the photos. They aren't great (but really, none of my photos are great), because it's hard to see the details. I'll go post a review over at Pattern Review shortly.

Looking at the photos I realize that the neckline isn't quite doing what I imagine it is doing. Maybe this is because the elastic in the sleeve hems is too tight and is creeping up my bicep. I also realize that I need some dress-appropriate sandals.

Blue Dress is Nearly Finished!


I just have to hem the blessed thing. I think I'll wear it tomorrow - it's been so blasted hot, it will be nice to have a breezy cotton dress to wear. Photos forthcoming.

Most of the time it is decidedly not this hot here in Vancouver, so I will probably want some capri length leggings to wear with the dress (and with my spaghetti strap dress that I will make as well). So tomorrow I will spend a bit of time looking for a pair. I may also stop by the little organic fibre shop that is shutting down to see if they have any fabric I like. Probably not, but everything is getting significantly marked down, so you never know!

I also need to tidy my sewing area and I would like to make a Jalie sleeveless top.