Friday, December 14, 2012

Topstitch/Edgestitch Exploration

I have had the need to topstitch (edgestitch) several sewing pieces lately, and this led me on a mini-exploration: do I have any product already on hand that I can use as a stabilizer?

The fault probably lies with my sewing machine.  I tried sewing around the edge of these cloud shapes with my needle in the right (rather than centered) position, meaning I couldn't use the single-hole needle plate.  I did this because my feed dogs have a hard time gripping edges of projects.  But the result was that the fabric got pulled down into the feed plate area--ugh.  So, I ended up trying the walking foot attachment.  I don't recommend this method: the ability to stitch corners and curves is reduced, and the visibility of the actual edge of the item is almost nonexistent.  (Still, this item is stitched as part of a child's toy, so any non-major stitching flaws can be mostly ignored.)

After this unsuccessful foray into edgestitching, I went to the Internet to look at solutions.  Aha!  Stabilizer is the recommended fix for this problem.  Never having used it myself, I was curious.  (Also, living out in the hinterlands, and being a generally frugal person, I was not running out to a store for a commercial stabilizer.)
Inspiration: 28 tiny triangles to topstitch

Internet search for "thrifty stabilizer" led me to several ideas.  Being the nerdy perfectionist that I am, I tried a bunch of them out.  Here are my thoughts/reviews...

1.  Dryer Sheets (used): this was from a posting about the many re-uses of dryer sheets.  Not recommended because the webbing actually got stuck in my feed dogs, making stitching more difficult.  I didn't even take a picture, the mess was so bad.

2.  Paper Towel: again, I didn't like the way this stitched.  Although, if you don't have a big, bumpy corner to stitch around, you might not have the difficulty that I did.  (The clouds, for example, only had gentle curves.)

3.  Tissue Paper:  cheap and plentiful, but alas did not stitch well on my machine.

4.  Parchment Paper: recommended by a friend, who was concerned that all my other trial materials were not really "tear away" stabilizers, parchment paper definitely tears well.  I felt like it didn't stitch as well as I would have hoped, and the fabric had a tendency to slip against the paper, especially on the bias edge.

5.  (not sure what to call this) Memory Foam Packing Material: my favorite, from a stitching perspective.  This non-directional fiber was "grippy" in all the right ways.  The fabric stayed put on top of it, even the pesky bias edge.  I could tug on it a little when going around the bumpy sharp corner.  Definitely my favorite stitching.  But--as with most of my trial stabilizers--this will not tear away.  So I will be stuck snipping my stabilizer free from 28 tiny triangles.  (Fortunately, there's football on this weekend: good background for snipping activity.)

What is this stuff, you ask?  And how is it thrifty?
I did a blog post about it last winter, after we had purchased two queen-size memory foam mattress pads.  I have vast quantities of this fiber product.  As with my other trial items, it was something I already had on hand.  Unlike all the other products, however, this one has no other use or purpose at this time.  It's just sitting in a decorative trunk, waiting for me to figure out what I can do with it.

My first product review: alternatives to commercial stabilizer.  I'll write later how the non-tear-away portion of the stabilizing goes.

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