Lapped Seams

Lapped seams are discussed in nearly every sewing manual and are often mentioned in blog posts.  A search will provide many good examples and instructions. Essentially instead of sewing right sides together or wrong sides together, the seam allowances are over lapped a pre-determined amount and then top stitched.  The top stitching is placed just before the edge of the seam allowances and then repeated so that the unseen edge is also secured.  You end up with two lines of  top stitching and one visible edge.  I suppose, one line of stitching would be sufficient, but I’ve never seen lapped seams with only one line of stitching.  An alternative to making two separate lines of top stitching, is the twin needle or if 3 lines were desired a drilling needle.  Any time a twin needle is an option, the cover stitch is an option.

I’m still working on the sweater knit shown in the Faux Ribbing post. I wanted to give this typical T-shirt shape in a plain knit (albeit the slightly heavier sweater knit)  a little something extra.  I opted to cut apart the front, back and sleeves into horizontally.  I’m using the purl side of the fabric as the public side for the upper portions and the knit side public for the  lower portions.  It is color blocking at its simplest. No color-coordinating fabrics needed.  The stitch structure and available light create the color blocked effect.  A similar result can be obtained with corduroy, velvet and most napped fabrics.  I opted for Lapped Seams to joint the upper and lower portions. Firstly, just to do something different but also I wanted the seams to be as flat as possible.  I anticipated these seams might chafe because of their location.  A flat seam rubs less than a lumpy one.

First step for a lapped seam is marking where the seam should be.  My sweater knit wouldn’t hold chalk and ignored disappearing ink.  I was grasping at straws when I spied the masking tape.  I keep several widths because masking tape is handy in different widths at different times.  For this seam treatment I’m using 1/4″ masking tape.  I placed my clear quilter’s ruler over and 1/2″ down from what would be the top of the lower bodice.  I aligned my masking tape along the edge of my quilting ruler.  I was a little late taking pics, so here you see the seam already under the needle, but with upper SA lifted out-of-the-way so that the masking tape and under SA are clearly visible.

I arranged the upper layer to just meet the masking tape and then pinned profusely. Not kidding, the pins were about 1/2″ apart and doubled dipped (two pin bites instead of the usual single) when I sat down at the CS. Pins are not the only option for securing the two layers. Use your favorite method.  I used normal settings i.e. serger thread in both needles and the looper, stitch length 3 mm, Differential in neutral; and stitched away:


I removed pins as the foot approached them but didn’t remove the tape until the seam was complete.  I liked using the tape as a guide for my foot during the stitching.

The public stitching is practically invisible. I’m hoping that with time, the fabric edge will curl adding a little more emphasis to the seam. Side note, the masking tape was stickier than anticipated and required careful removal.

The back side is a little more obvious

My garment received lots of handling. Much more than I expected and the edges were stretch and loopy.  I made a second pass of the CS trying to really nail the seam into place. I’m hoping that the garment will last a few years. Regardless, the double stitched seam does look slightly different.  Private side:

and the front has an interesting welt/ribbing effect:

I think either single or double stitched are neat and could be even more interesting with contrasting thread.


Using a twin needle at the SM would give greater flexibility in the width of the top stitching. Twin needles are available (I think) between .8 and 5mm wide. I most often use the 4mm so the CS which is easiest to thread and adjust, would most often be my choice.  My second most often used twin needle is the 2.0 and maybe 2.5.  I have the others, but seldom use them. Whereas my 4mm and 2.0 have had to be replaced due to wear and I’ve purchased both ball point and sharp twin needles.  In retrospect, the 3-needle CS might have been a better choice for me. But I would use 3 needles or even the 2.0 spacing so seldom that I don’t get excited and have no plans to trade my 900CPX.


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^What’s in the CookBook:


Posted in Lapped Seams | 1 Comment

Faux Ribbing

I’m adapting this technique from an old Threads article. A quick search shows that the Sewing Divas also made a blog post. In the original Threads article, the author uses various twin needles to create the look of ribbing by using multiple rows of pin-tucks. Why would you go to all this trouble?  Ribbings have a purpose beyond simple appearance. Historically sweater knits have been protection from the elements particularly bitter cold and wind. People looked for ways to cinch the knitting close to wrists, necks and waists to keep the wind and cold from sneaking in through those openings. Ribbing, simple knit 1 purl 1 stitch, is a classic way to cinch those openings.  Many different ribbing patterns have been developed ranging from simple stitch combinations  to complex cable patterns.  Today, I mostly appreciate the fact that ribbing snugs knit fabrics close to my body creating a more visually balanced and attractive silhouette.

As has happened all too often this year, I have a light weight knit fabric but no ribbing.  My fabric is an emerald marl of acrylic fiber.  It’s a plain knit ie. knit on one side purl on the reverse. It is one of the few sweater knits I purchased this year that is not sheer but is light enough to wear inside or under other garments. There are options other than eibbing for finishing the edges. Some will even snug the garment to my body. But I really want and have decided to create my own ribbing using the information from the Threads article and my cover stitch machine, the CPX900.

I’ve shared pin tucking and reverse pin tucks with the cover stitch machine before. So this is not new information, but information used in a new way and using our cover stitch machines in an unusual way: Faux Ribbing for sweater knits. Faux Ribbing can be used and will produce a similar effect on any knit fabric from sheer knits to bulky knits.  If you have a 3-needle  machine, you have the option of 2 different pin tuck widths. However, for sweater knits, I really recommend the widest width(i.e. take out the middle needle).  I opted immediately for the longest stitch length. I can’t imagine using less than 3mm except with the thinnest of knits. I did not engage my differential. The CPX900 works really well for the fabrics I use. It was a machine designed for the things I sew.   In fact, I mostly adjust stitch length and as I’m doing today, and changing threads.

For the first round of testing I used serger thread in the needles and wooly nylon in the looper.  I’m calling it wooly nylon ’cause that’s the term I learned eons ago.  My cone is polyester not nylon; named “Stretch”; and  manufactured by  Maxi Lock.  I’m slowly acquiring one cone of each color Wawak sells. (I especially like this thread for rolled hems.)

I stitched 5 rows,  one foot-width apart. Wooly nylon type thread makes low but distinguishable ribbing. I didn’t have a color-matching “Stretch” and opted to use black which shows up pretty clearly there on the right side of the pic.  My sample didn’t seem to lose any stretch but the spaces between the pin tucks do the stretching and can become transparent when stretched far enough.  I have loose threads because I didn’t make a concerted effort to clean it up. OTOH the threads pretty much stayed like they should and didn’t make much of a mess to clean up.   I would prefer that the pin tucks were closer together for this particular sweater knit and stitch configuration. I actually like the reverse side better than the typical front side.

The sample with the lettering “Wooly Nylon” was done on a cotton woven for the purpose of testing the stitch i.e. did I get thread in all the guides that were supposed to have thread.

My 2nd test has the same settings including serger thread in the needles but uses elastic thread in the looper.  As far as I know, elastic thread comes in black or white. Period. Black was fine.

Again, the sample with lettering was just a test to see if I had correctly threaded the machine and in particular the looper.  On the front, the pin-tucks stand up nicely and draw in the fabric so that it looks more like a ‘real’ ribbing. The elastic thread practically disappears on the back side. Additionally, while the wooly nylon sample tended to stay flat, the elastic thread is gathering ever so slightly.  I’m planning pin tucks at least 13″ long  and can see the gathering could be a problem on work longer than my 3″ long samples. The back side is more messy. The elastic thread was a bit wild and seemed to ummm retain an opinion of its own.  In order to assure the elastic did not ‘snap back’  both unraveling from the fabric and unthreading the machine, at the end of each row I opened the front cover and pulled 6-8″ of elastic thread down into the that area:


This is annoying.  It has to be done at the end of every row. But I would do it if it produced the desired end result.

One important note, neither of these samples have been pressed,,,  YET.

I preferred working with the wooly nylon and performed a 3rd sample.  I kicked up the looper tension to 8.  this produced a satisfactory ‘ribbing’ for this project



^^^^^^^^^^^Whats in the Cook book?

3 Pages with all samples.  I consider none ‘wrong’ rather each would be useful for different projects.


Additionally, be sure to consider using both sides, matching thread and pin tucking the purl side for use as the right side.



Posted in Embellishments, Faux Ribbing | 1 Comment

CS Project: Lined Drapes

I’ve decided to start adding and linking Projects to this blog because most people don’t understand how useful a cover stitch machine can be.  It rather reminds me of when sergers where new.  People put their new in-the-box serger under a bed because they didn’t know when to use it after it was out of the box. My dealer tells me the #1 question they get about sergers is “What do I do with it?”.  I know this is also true of cover stitch machines because even as sparse as my posts have been, I continually receive thanks and something to the effect  someone is getting their box out and using their cover stitch  because of this blog. Onto this post’s topic:



I’m not going to teach you drapery. The basics are still

  • Determine the type drapery desired
  • Measure width and depth of the window
  • Calculate yardage and accessories needed
  • Buy it all
  • Cut
  • Sew Long Seams.

Constructing drapes and curtains is essentially sewing many long seams. So many that boredom sets in. I choose to use the cover stitching because

  • It sews really fast, much faster than my SM
  • Like the SM, the CS isn’t restricted to the edge which a serger is
  • The differential is built-in. i.e. no need to worry about creeping seams — a real hazard when stitching long seams.
  • There are accessories to help with turning and stitching hems. (Yes there are some for the SM too but I never mastered them.)

I made lined drapes at my DS request for light blocking drapes. He measured the windows. We determined that they wanted a plain drapery. No pleats, no rings. Just the standard 2 row header. I bought fabric and a good quality light blocking lining but no accessories. I could have added tapes to the sides, hems and header but didn’t. They are living in a rental and I’m not sure how long they plan to be there.  They need something in the living room to block the evening sun while they watch TV.  Naturally as a young couple, money is short and mom loves to help.

I didn’t cut so much as measure, snip and rip sections of fabric and lining to a predetermined  length. (That’s all in those calculations you’ll have to learn on a different blog).

I pressed 1″ side hems into place and then measured the width.  Theoretically, I could have taken the width of the fabric and subtracted  2″. For some unknown reason that never quite  works for me. I’m always off.  Once I knew the finished width of the individual drape, I ripped the lining into lengths and a width 1/4″ less than the width of the finished drape. I’m fortunate to have a large cutting table.  I placed the drape wrong side up on my table, then smoothed and arranged my lining wrong sides together on the drape.  I folded and pinned the side hems into place.

The CPX900 hemming guide

has the capability to fold the hem down and under but it hasn’t been totally reliable for me. I tend to use it  as a simple guide and press my hems into place. I used it on all 6 side-hems making the typical  two needle hem which secured the side hems and the lining in place.

The header and bottom hem needed a slightly different tactic. The guide would not switch to 2″ or 3″ width. Not to be defeated, I used *Glo-Line Tape.  I measured from the left needle to 2 and then 3 inches. Made a mark with a pen and then affixed my Glo-Line Tape.

I like the hemming guide a little better because it helps keep the fabric flowing smoothing in a straight line. I just kind of push the fabric towards the guide until I feel resistance. With the tape I had to man-handle the fabric and over-see the delicate operation of feeding straight into the machine at the same time.  For just a little extra help, instead of pinning the hem and header into place, I pressed up the desired depth and then fused with *Steam A Seam before again using the standard 2 needle stitch to secure these two into place.

I wanted a single line of stitching 1″ from the top of the header (drape).  I removed one needle and cone of thread for that stitching.

Finished Drape

Above I’ve shown the finished drape.  There is one unexplained line of stitching on the “inside”.  Just below what will be the top edge of the drape and stitched before the header was turned and secured.  That line of hemming secures the lining to the drape while they (DS and girlfriend)  try to insert the rod. It may not have been needed but at the CS it takes only a minute so why not?

Because I used the cover stitch machine, I  finished all 3 panels in about 6 hours. That includes at least a full hour of weaving in the ends, Frey-Check-ing them and pressing the panels.  I’ve made drapes at the sewing machine. I can assure you it takes a lot longer at the sewing machine.


Nothing added to the CookBook.  This project makes use of techniques previously posted.

*I’m in the US.  I find the named products either on or

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Gathering with Wooly Nylon

Another option for gathering is using Wooly Nylon or other soft stretchy thread/yarn in the lower looper.


Thread the soft yarn through the guides as usual.  I did find that a drop of Frey Check on the thread-end helped stiffen the end and make it pass through holes much easier.

Initially, I tried regular serger thread in both needles. I used a 4 stitch length, 2.5 differential setting and moved the STS lever to the right. That produced a rather nice tunnel (as in heirloom stitching) but not much gathering.  I removed the left needle and tried again.

My fabric is a light weight cotton.  I’ve roll-hemmed the left side and finished the right with a 3-needle over lock both done on the serger before rolling over to the cover stitch. (My sewing chair has wheels. I literally roll from machine to machine and back again.)

In the pic above, you can already see the fabric strip gathering. After several short tests, I cranked up the looper tension to 8 and produced nice ruffles.  However, tests are not the same as the real thing.  For my project, I needed 1.5″ wide but 45″ long.  Over that long distance the gathering wasn’t apparent.  I’m assuming that the drag of the fabric both in front and behind the needle prevented the CS from achieving the same gathering it did on a 12″ length.  My quick solution was Nancy Zieman’s old “Ease+” technique. I would drop my thumb behind the foot for a sec. Lift and repeat all 45″; all 4 strips.

This resulted in a pretty decent ruffle in very short time.  In fact, I think I spent more time experimenting than I did making the “real” ruffle!

Ruffle FACE



Posted in GathersNRuffles | 3 Comments

Uncommon Abbreviations

I use some of the same terms over and over but they aren’t common to the general public and may not be readily understood by every sewist.  I’ve been following common courtesy by spelling out the first instance accompanied with abbreviation and then using the abbreviation when needed subsequently i.e. Water Soluble Thread (WST) the first time then just WST.  Frankly, I know I’m lazy. I also tire of writing out these terms over and over. Yet I know that very people have read my every post and few of them are likely to understand all my abbreviations. But I’m still lazy.  I’ve opted for what I hope is an acceptable substitute. I’ve created a page on my base blog  titled “uncommon abbreviations” and I will link my abbreviations to that page. Granted the reader will have to scroll down that list to find my definition which could be a bit inconvenient for them. I apologize for that and the fact I am slightly lazy. But I’ve learned I can’t please everyone. So it’s most important that I’m satisfied with myself.

Uncommon Abbreviations

Posted in Uncommon Abbreviations. | 1 Comment

Belt Loop Folder

1/2 Inch Belt Loop Folder

Finished 1/2″ Belt Loop

.I decided it was past time to be learning how to use this folder.  I must explain. I avoid using these attachments because of previous poor experience.  I’ve never been able to get a narrow hemming foot to work. What I produce is so bad, I’d rather hand roll. (Instead I make baby hems folding the hem twice, 1/8″.)  The foot which cleverly folds bias while stitching to an edge, and thereby neatly finishing the edge, always ends up being a half-a$$ed affair.  My few attempts with that foot have ended with a smaller sized finished product. How’d that happen?  Well, I couldn’t rip the stitches without damaging the item. So I’d trim the “bias” with scissors or rotary cutter. Then the item needed to be evened and so the whole blamed thing ended up slightly smaller than planned. Anyway, my efforts with folders in use with the standard sewing machine have not been satisfactory.  With that in mind, I’ve delayed using my folder for nearly a year. Frankly, I’d rather do it once correctly than make a mess 3 times. But I decided it was time to either learn to use the Belt Loop folder or toss it in the trash.

It’s been many months since I purchased the above folder. It came without instructions. Looking at it now, I decided Sharp Sewing must have decided it was so easy to use you didn’t need instructions (encouraging) or so difficult only experts who-knew-what-they-were-doing should be purchasing it (discouraging).  I already had the thing, I may as well give it a go.  I started by removing the hemming plate that’s nearly always attached to the CPX and installing the adapter plate. I’m really comfortable with this procedure and had the plate secured in seconds.

Install Adapter Plate

Next was installing the Folder. Very similar to installing the binders I actually had it in a place on the machine in seconds.  I did find that I needed two screws. It would rotate on one screw and change places on me.

Folder attached with 2 screws

I knew I would want to document this process. I make belt loops probably once a month. With my senior memory, that’s long enough to forget what I need to do. So I threaded the machine with regular serger thread – nothing fancy or expensive- but I used red in the needles and black in the looper.  In retro spec, I wish I had used a 3rd color in the 2nd needle. But it is what it is.

Since I didn’t have instructions, I wasn’t sure how to cut the strips.  I cut all the strips cross grain and sliced off one end to form a point for feeding into the folder.  The folder is etched with “1/2″ which at the moment meant nothing to me. (It’s that senior memory thing.) I cut my first strip 3/4” wide.

First strip, 3/4″ wide

And begin trying to “thread” the strip into the folder.  Being 3/4″ wide it slopped around a bit and I had to use my stilletto  (inserted into the vertical slot on the top of the folder) to encourage the strip to pass through the folder and under the foot.

I did notice some  folding going on as I pulled the strip completely under and to the rear of the foot. I used my stilletto for that purpose too.  My senior fingers don’t fit beneath the foot or in the tiny space between the end of the folder and the foot.

I ran the machine at a moderate speed and produced a strip of crap.

1/2″ folder, 3/4″ strip

Back to the cutting table to produce a 1″ strip which almost filled the folder but it did slop just a bit.

It also produced almost a decent loop but not good enough.  It’s got to be as good as I can produce using the SM or I’m not working at the CS.

Front of 1″ strip, 1/2″ folder

Back of above


Back to cutting board for 1.25″ strip which over filled the folder…

but produced a relatively nice strip.

1.25″ strip, 1/2″ folder


Actually my biggest complaint is that the stitching is not exactly centered on the strip.  Having learned my lesson, I cut 8 an 24″ strips 1 and a scant 1/4″ wide. I mean we’re talking the difference of 1/16 or less. When I lined up my ruler, I lined the fabric in front of the quarter inch marking. I’m not even sure that line is 1/16″, it could be 1/32″. Either way that was perfect.  I rethreaded my CPX with grey thread in both needles and looper; nudged the folder to the left just a hair and ran through the 8″ strip. Perfect!

Strip is pressed and folded so you can see front and back at the same time.


BTW, my stitch length was 3.5 standard needle, looper tensions and pressor foot unchanged. Did not need to engage the differential either.  I already had size 12 needles in the machine. So essentially I did not change the machine settings by much; just installed the adaptor plate and folder.

Once I’ve adjust a tool like the folder, I want to be able to install it in the future with little fuss.  I wanted to mark the folder to show how to align the folder with my foot. Wouldn’t you know it, the folder resisted any attempts.  Not to be defeated, I cut a small strip of Glow-Line Tape and place it at the front edge of the folder. I place a small arrow with the broad end exactly between the flanges of my clear foot.

Alignment Arrow

I was really excited with my results.  I think the whole process took maybe 30 minutes including cutting and testing. Faster than any previous belt-loop-making procedure I’ve used and no burnt fingers.  But I think the 1/2″ belt loop is slightly larger than what I would normally like to use. I immediately sat down at my computer to order a 3/8″ folder. Duh! Right on the Ebay listing it says “Cut 1″ to make 1/2″ belt loops”.  Actually the folder is so simple that instructions aren’t needed.  Although I do think testing is always in order.  I always test my machines to be sure the tensions are correct and the machines correctly threads. For belt loops, I’ll also need to be sure that the fabric cooperates and folds nicely. A 1″ strip of this fabric did not look as nice at the nearly 1.25″ strip.

PS ordered the 3/8″ belt looper


Whats In the CookBook

Instruction Page

Samples attached to back.

Posted in Accessories, BeltLoops | 2 Comments

Belt Loops

Well that’s not the best picture, but you get the idea, Belt Loops using the CPX900!

I have a folder to attached to my CPX900 but I was in a hurry; not wanting to march up the ol’ learning curve. So I started these belt loops using my normal proceedure. That is I cut a strip on grain 1.75″ wide and as long as I can get.  There’s usually a short section between the front and back pant leg, close to 18″ long that works well. Allowing for error, I cut two pieces that length.  Then I go to the ironing board. I have a cork board hanging next to the ironing board on which I hang tools frequently used with the iron.  The 1″ tape maker lives on that board.

If you haven’t seen these, Nancy’s Notions has a free instructional video.

Opened,folded Strip

I run my tape through, allowing it to form the folds while I’m pressing them.  Usually I go to the sewing machine and stitch both sides. My problem is stitching evenly along the edge. I’m sure to wobble along the line creating an amaturish looking strip.

This time the CPX was already set up for top stitching jeans. I wobbled at the sewing machine a couple of times — you can’t blame my Ruby.  Every machine has trouble with such uneven bulk . So I wobbled a couple of times and thought, “what about doing this at the CPX?”

I left the hemming guide in place (it’s usually on the CPX) but adjust it to help guide the strip under the foot.  Then I just stitched to the end. Inserted the next strip and stiched it too.

Amazing!  I was done in 2 minutes.


The back  (on top) doesn’t look too neat but it’s doesn’t get seen so why worry?  The front is acceptable, especially for a first attempt.  In the future I would want to cut my strips 1.25 or 1.5″ wide instead of the 1.75″. Other than that, this was an easy way to make belt loops. I definitely need to try out the folder.

Note: I make belt loops in strips and then cut to length. For this jean pattern, they are cut 3.5″ long.  Unused, or badly stitched pieces are discarded.


Whats In the CookBook

A One Page Description with sample strips:

Posted in BeltLoops | 7 Comments