The Sewing Place

Altering stretchy garments

JudyN

Altering stretchy garments
« on: December 10, 2019, 19:28:11 PM »
As mentioned in my intro, I really struggle with tight waistbands - and by tight, I mean 'won't fall down on their own'.

As an example, I have some XL thick tights, pre-stretched by wetting and then drying stretched over a chair - they're comfortable when I'm out and about, but when I'm at home relaxing or working, they feel really uncomfortable. And I'm 5' 0", size 10, and weigh 7.5 stone!

I have a few pairs of leggings, jeggings & tights I'd like to alter. The leggings & jeggings I'm thinking of removing the waistband and creating a new channel (if that's the right term), and threading new elastic through which has ends that can be tied like a drawstring. The tights, I'm wondering if I can simply lower the waistband (as they're so large and I'm short it comes up very high) by taking a horizontal fold of the fabric below the waistband, stitching round, cutting off the excess, and binding the raw edges. If that doesn't work, I can do similar to the leggings.

The problem is, I have a 60-year-old Singer 201K that only does straight stitch, and don't have a zig-zag foot, so not much use for stretchy fabric or finishing edges. I'm wondering whether to try to find a zig-zag foot for it, or whether it's time to treat myself to a new sewing machine. I love my Singer, it used to be my mum's till she 'upgraded', but it does such a beautiful stitch... but it is limiting.

I wonder if I could have your thoughts, please? Would a new machine with zig-zag, something to finish raw edges nicely, and other bells & whistles make my life easier? I don't tend to do a lot of sewing because of shoulder problems, but it would be nice to have the option to do more....

BrendaP

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2019, 22:15:26 PM »

The problem is, I have a 60-year-old Singer 201K that only does straight stitch, and don't have a zig-zag foot, so not much use for stretchy fabric or finishing edges. I'm wondering whether to try to find a zig-zag foot for it, or whether it's time to treat myself to a new sewing machine. I love my Singer, it used to be my mum's till she 'upgraded', but it does such a beautiful stitch... but it is limiting.

I wonder if I could have your thoughts, please? Would a new machine with zig-zag, something to finish raw edges nicely, and other bells & whistles make my life easier? I don't tend to do a lot of sewing because of shoulder problems, but it would be nice to have the option to do more....

You can't just fit a zig-zag foot to a straight stitch machine, a wide foot won't make the needle move sideways.  The zig-zag attachments clamp down hard and move the fabric from side to side.  The same with the buttonholers.

As for lowering waistbands and making horizontal seams in leggings etc - you are dealing with modern fabrics which need modern(ish) machines.  Depending on the thickness and stretchiness of the fabric a machine with overcast stitches might be OK though and overlocker is likely to make a better job.

If you are serious about getting into sewing more you do need to get a new machine - though a pre-loved one may well be a better option than buying new, especially if on a tight budget.  A cheap new machine will feel horribly plasticy compared to your 201, and it almost certainly won't last as long.
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

Catllar

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2019, 22:46:25 PM »
Can I just say that I often have to release the waist band on dance fishnets, so I chop into the elastic at the top.

You can cut and make a new channel or you can attach waistband elastic directly to the top - it has a sort of gathered edge on one side and you sew that to the legging.  As for finishing edges , a knit shouldn't ravel, so you don't need to  finish the edge.

Also for stretchy fabrics on a straight stitch machine  you can  do without a zigzag provided you have the correct stretch needle and you hold the fabric under gentle tension as you sew with a medium length stitch. If the fabric has good recovery it'll ping back whilst still being able to stretch . If you don't plan to do much then I wouldn't be bothered with a new machine.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 22:48:28 PM by Catllar »
If life gives you lemons, add to gin and tonic !

JudyN

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2020, 13:43:07 PM »
So I now have my new sewing machine and would like to have a go at altering my thick cotton tights. They are too long in the leg and the body. For the legs, I'm thinking of cutting them off at the top of the leg, pulling them up through the 'pantie' leg hole to the right length, stitching round, and trimming off the excess. I'm wondering if this technique might work better for the reducing the length in the body as well - cut round a few inches below the waistband, overlap the two sections, and stitch round.

Three questions:

1) Is this likely to work?
2) Best stitch selection - zig-zag, or could there be something better?
3) Assuming this is doable... How do I control the stretchy material as I feed it through the machine? Do I stretch it out to what it's likely to be when I'm wearing the tights?

Oh, and 4) bog-standard thread, or are there better alternatives for stretchy fabrics?

Ohsewsimple

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2020, 16:36:26 PM »
I’d be inclined to fold back the tights so you have a fold at the top, right sides together. 
Make sure of the amount you want to lose and don’t forget it’s on a fold so the depth will be half the total.   :).  Make sure it’s even all round.  Pin at the base of the waistband.  I would use a zig zag stitch as it has some give.  The best one is a triple zig zag as it has lots of give.  Don’t cut the excess off till you’ve tried them and made sure they’re right. 

JudyN

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2020, 16:47:41 PM »
Thank you Ohsewsimple :D I was thinking of overlapping rather than folding so I'd end up with a flatter seam. But maybe if it's right up by the waistband that wouldn't be an issue.

Off to check if my machine does triple zig zag now....

Helen M

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2020, 23:12:12 PM »
To shorten the length in the legs have you thought about shortening them from the foot? I have done that successfully albeit using an overlocker. I did do a straight seam first so perhaps the triple zig zag would do? I also did the same alteration with some thick kneehighs/popsocks that for some reason stretched over my knee.  ><
Stash Busting 2020
Goal: 35 metres
So far: 3 metres

JudyN

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2020, 10:54:40 AM »
To shorten the length in the legs have you thought about shortening them from the foot?

From memory, I had thought the heels were shaped which might have ruled that out, but looking this morning, I think the shaping is just where I hadn't washed them since wearing them last :| So that could be the way to do it. I'm wondering if there's a way to get the seam to lie just on top of the toes rather at the end as seams can annoy me (DS2 is the same - he wears his socks inside out!).

All these sewing adventures I have planned! It's a shame about my shoulders - my job for today might just be winding a new bobbin and rethreading with a different thread as it's bright red at the moment. I've only would one bobbin and threaded it once so with my memory, that'll probably take me about half an hour!

JudyN

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2020, 20:38:17 PM »
 I'm back again, after playing with a jegging waistband and not achieving very much over the past week or so (can only do a few mins sewing a day, which is just long enough to realise it isn't going to work and unpicking it again). I'm now eyeing up a pair of cotton jersey leggings - I've lopped the too-tight/too-high waistband off and just want to sew a small casing I can thread elastic through in its place.

Question: Do I need to get a ballpoint needle to sew them - or would it at least improve my chances of success (I need all the help I can get...)? If so, what size needle? And do I have to buy a particular brand? I can't see any Juki needles for sale online - any (UK) recommendations, please?

As I don't find tights comfy but I don't have a problem with knickers (which is just as well, really... :|) I had the bright idea of lopping off the legs of my tights and attaching them to the legs of a pair of knickers. What could possibly go wrong? 0_0 Apart from the whole lot descending to my ankles at an awkward moment, of course.... :o

BrendaP

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2020, 23:19:38 PM »
Schmetz needles are generally reckoned to be the best.  Organ and Superior are good brands too.

A ball-point or jersey needle *might* stitch better than a regular one.  You plan to sew relatively fine fabric so go for a size 80, and use a good quality thread such as Gütermann SewAll (which is polyester) or a size 50 cotton; nothing thicker.

Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

JudyN

Re: Altering stretchy garments
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2020, 07:42:27 AM »
Thank you Brenda :)