September 08, 2005
How do I get myself into these messes?
Hemming jeans. It didn't start out so good:
All that to loosen the needle clamp screw*!
I swear it was tightened like the Jaws of Life! I tried to loosen it with a screwdriver, but eventually had to put a piece of fabric over it and go at it with pliers. It was SO frustrating. But finally I changed out the regular needle and put in the Schmetz Jeans needle.
Then I took an old pair of jeans destined for the trash and practiced on them with this new needle. Here are the results:
I'm quite happy with the way the hem looks across the side seams and in the middle.
Let me tell you a bit about how I got here, and ask for more advice.
Continue with the extended entry to read more.
I folded down the new hem and basted it into place. Then I ironed the hem, and bashed it with a hammer to flatten the areas where the side seams are incorporated into the hem. I sewed with the right side facing me, and placed a piece of tape on the needle plate* to indicate the proper distance from the edge. Still, I had some close calls, and some calls which weren't close at all:
Either (1) I failed follow the taped guideline, or (2) my basting was a bit off in those sections, or (3) I sewed too close to the fold generally speaking, so it was bound to happen. Or a combination of the three.
I had to increase the upper thread tension* from the factory setting of "4" to the max, "9", in order to keep the top thread from making big loops on the bottom of the fabric. I feel that even "9" is not enough. Any comments/suggestions?
As for the side seams, the bottom line is that there was no way for my machine to sew through three folds of such thick fabric. Although I tried, I tried hard.
For starters, it wouldn't really fit under the presser foot* - I could squeeze it in there after a good bashing with the hammer, but it was too high of a stack to move (remind you of anything? I should've tried a hammer on that piece of shit, hehe.). Even if I could force it to move and/or released the presser foot, I had to turn the handwheel* with all my might, which caused a nasty blister on the inside of my right thumb (ouch!). A blister wouldn't have stopped me if I was getting good results, but I wasn't - the fabric wasn't moving, it was getting stuck, the thread was tangling, and I was frustrated to no extent.
I definitely dig the concept of a hump jumper, and I used my own version (just some denim folded up) to prop up the back of the presser foot when approaching the hump. But once I was there, I had bigger fish to fry, like the whole thing getting stuck and not moving.
So, what was my solution? To fold the fabric only once and sew through only two layers of the seam:
This went very smoothly, no problems at all. But I don't know if this is good enough. Is this construction, with some of the fabric fully folded under and other fabric folded only once, asking for trouble? Will it come apart? Will it fray? Should I do a zigzag just on that part of the edge before hemming it down? Should I try other things to sew through three layers, like releasing the presser foot? I don't know about that last one since nothing would move even with the presser foot fully released.
I really want some jeans in time for the start of the school year!
*You betcha I wrote this entire entry with the sewing machine manual firmly placed in my lap, just as I would hold a dictionary were I writing in Spanish or French... 'cause you know I'm clueless when it comes to the bits and pieces.