Switching Sewing Settings To Stretch Stitch

For years my Janome's settings have been for sewing on COTTON fabrics. That's what quilters sew on pretty much exclusively, and that's what I've been sewing since the early 1990's.

I've been taking a long break from piecing and quilting, but I won't go so far as to say I'm over it.  After so many years of owning a quilt shop and all that goes with it, giving it up is not easy.  So I hang on to all my quilting stuff except the Longarm Machine.  It's gone, but I know where I can find it if need be.

For awhile now, I've been on a Bag Binge.  Putting together a bag is not too different from making quilts in that the machine setup stays the same with switching out a couple of feet and the walking foot.  My 'Cotton Stash' gets used as well as a collection of denims, ducks, upholstery and drapery fabrics, and bags are easy, quick and fun to make as well as good sellers in my Booth at the First Saturday Chicken Farm Art Center.

Lately, the urge to make clothes has captured my interest again.  I say again since clothes sewing was where it all began.

 I talked about my sewing life back in the 1960's and how it has played such an important role throughout my life. 

You can read some of those post in the Re-Run of AtoZ Challenge 2015...HERE.  One post in particular kind of brings me full circle....Patterns, Predictions and Perspectives.

In that post, I quoted my Mother as having said, "Sue, you can't play basketball forever, but you can sew for the rest of your life."  Aren't Mother's smart?

I gave up Basketball so long ago I now can't remember when I last dribbled, but I do know that basketball's court, rules, and uniforms have changed drastically from the days when girls played half court.   Okay, that'll do...I don't want to put off the next and the next generations of my 'Sewing Readers' who hopefully, see me as a '21st Century Tech Savy Sewist' rather than a 'Dark Ages Dribbler'.

Which brings me to 'Switch Sewing Settings To Stretch Stitch'...finally you say!  Yes, finally, and what a transition it is when switching from woven cotton's to stretch fabrics like, lycra, jersey, knits and many polyester blends.  By the way, I am not talking about the 1970's and 1980's Polyester Double Knits...I won't go there with that stashed and stored collection.

As shown in the above photo there are a few key settings to make on your sewing machine...

~#1...refer to your machine's instruction book.  I know...if all else fails, read the instructions...believe me I know about that little wise crack first hand.
~#2...set your STITCH choice to the Stretch Stitch.  Mine is in Mode 1, Stitch #6.
~#3...change your NEEDLE to a Ball Point.  Keep in mind the bigger the number the bigger the eye and the less likely the thread will shred and break.  The stretch stitch makes lots of tiny stitches and the faster you stitch increases the chances for shredding and breaking. 
~#4...set your speed regulator to medium or adjust your speed with the foot pedal.
~#5...adjust your stitch length and width.  My MC6600 is so smart...it auto sets and will only allow so much adjusting.  It says 3.0 and 2.5 are the maximum.
~#6...adjust the FOOT PRESSURE setting.  This allows for slippery fabrics to feed smoothly and efficiently through the feed dogs...you know the two rows of teeth that bite gently and push the fabric forward as each stitch is made.  Remember....Do NOT pull on stretch fabric as it stitches....you will end up with a pucker stretch stitched seam...let the machine do it's thing.

Tips and Techniques
~Use Clover's Wonder Clips instead of Pins...slippery fabrics slide apart when seaming together.  Pins like non-ball point needles, pierce stretch fabrics with a tendency to snag and leave a hole.
~Sew with the 'Stretch Stitch'...through all seams where garment will need to stretch.  example:  Tops...sleeves, under arm side seam down past bust line, neck;  Pants...WAIST band, front and back seams from top to crotch,  inseam from inner thighs to below knee, side seams from waist to below knee. 
~I often Switch to a Straight Stitch setting of 3.0 to 3.5 for sewing seams that are not going to need to stretch...example:  Pants...inner and outer side seams from the knee to the hem, hems.  Tops...loose fitting with flare from bust line down to the hem and the hem itself.
Wow...I really Stretched this post out, huh?  I've been sitting here so long I have puckers in my setting sitting seams....never mind...I'll just go stretch and sew.  How about you...are you ready to Switch Sewing Settings to Stretch Stitching?


  1. My head just exploded from a junior high flashback to sewing class. Coordinate the pedal and the material while a sharp object is piercing up and down. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Oh Sue I'm a loyal reader, but this post hurt. I'll be okay....

  2. I didn't not find you during the A to Z Challenge but today I am on the A to Z Road Trip and I took a rest stop on your Blog. What a brilliant theme. I am bookmarking you and coming back to read all the posts. I, too, grew up In the 50's and 60's!

  3. You almost have me feeling brave enough to try sewing stretchy fabrics. The last time I was on the old sewing machine around Christmas), I finally experimented with the zig-zag control. I could always experiment with making headbands.


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