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

Reversed Pintucks

I’m not sure what to call these. I’m using the bottom of the stitch, the part that is normally hidden from view, the reverse side; as my embellishment for Otto 2010/5 Style 10.  I didn’t want the pin tuck to pop as it had when I was making the Pin Tucked T.  I wanted the reverse pin tuck to be very visible, as wide as it could be. I opted for black wooly nylon in the looper (usual serger thread in the needles).  I think I could have gotten a similar look by using double threads in the looper or using a size 12 thread.  I made 6 different tests changing the needle and looper tensions, stitch length and differential setting before I was satisfied with Sample #6.

What would normally be the top (but will not since I’m using the reverse for my public side) is unremarkable upon first view.  The neat thing, which you probably can’t see, is that all the marking is done where and it doesn’t matter if it washes out or not just as long as it can’t be seen on the other side.

I used the clear foot with center guide. I aligned the center guide with my chalk line and stitched without worry.  My fabric is a light weight knit. I’m quite sure that a different fabric would react differently, so I consider my final settings for this fabric as a point to start at with the next fabric.   I numbered my tests as I went along, with 6 being last. Even though you see it at the far left and therefore first


Final settings

  • Needle tensions 2
  • Looper tension 0
  • Stitch Length 2
  • Differential 1


Whats In the CookBook

Posted in Embellishments | 3 Comments


I have an explicit picture of shirring in my mind. It is that of rows and rows of gathers on the public side of a garment created by the use of elastic thread on the inside.  I have been told this is not entirely correct. That shirring is multiple rows of gathers formed by either drawn threads, elastic or the shirring foot of a sewing machine. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to stick with my personal vision which limits shirring to elastic thread. Usually purchased on a spool like this:

The elastic thread can be used at the sewing machine by winding it on a bobbin. It can be used at the serger by threading through one of the loopers. This disadvantage of the serger is that you must work on an edge. With the sewing machine, you can stitch that elastic anywhere; even making circles, waves and other shapes. Until you run out of elastic thread on the bobbin.  I don’t care for using it at the SM, because I do run out of thread amazingly soon and winding is a chore.  I’ve yet to meet the machine that will satisfactorily wind elastic thread on the bobbin. Oh sure, I can thread it up and start the winding, but the thread is too tightly wound and often breaks (for me at least.)  Long ago I ditched shirring for gathering with clear elastic. I was contemplating my next project, Otto 2/2010 #14 which contains shirring details, and decided to give shirring a go at my Cover Stitch Machine.

I’m going to just flat tell you that shirring at the CS is remarkably easy.  I threaded the elastic through the looper. I like to start with my thread tails above the plate and to the rear of the foot. Too many times I’ve made messes (at all 3 machines SM, Serger and CS) because I didn’t control those threads to start with.  Trying to pull up the elastic thread through the plate was head scratching.  Normally I make one stitch in air and draw my stiletto under the foot from front to back which pulls up the looper thread. Not so with the elastic thread. It did not want to pop up.  I resorted to using a “spyder” which is small scrap of fabric most quilters are intimately familiar with. The spyder is used to take the first one or two stitches before starting the real work. At the end, the spyder is clipped off from the beginning and placed back under the needle for a final 2-3 stitches.  Eventually the spyder gathers so many hairs of cut threads it starts looking like a spider, the animal. I was pleased that the issue was so easy to solve. You may not even give the beginning threads any consideration. That’s OK. The elastic thread does grab and stitch immediately.

I left my tensions for the needles at 3 but changed the looper to Zero and the stitch length to 4.  My differential is mostly set at the dot between .5 and 1. That seems to work most of the time and did for shirring.

My sample is a scrap from the intended project. It is a light weight cotton voile. This is an old fabric and should be 100% cotton, however it resists wrinkling which has me questioning exactly how old it is and how much cotton it does contain. On my sample, I tried shirring with both needles and then  a single needle.

4 lines of stitching and I said “I like the double needle best.” I started my test for my project with a fresh scrap of fabric 10″ long  4″ wide.  But that begins another post.

I could have done more testing. For example, I set the looper tension at zero. I could have tested by leaving the elastic  thread out of the tension disc or threading through only 1 hole at the top. I used a stitch length of 4 because I believe the longer stitch gives the greatest gathering. But that’s a setting that could have been worked with.  I used regular serger thread in the needles.  What would have happened if I changed to wooly nylon?  The CPX models have a Thread Tensioning System which I left at off. If that was engaged, how would the gathers look?  While I love experimenting, I also am happy to reach desired results with little effort. I found what I wanted with 4 quick rows of stitching and declared testing done-for-today.

One issue that should be addressed is the tendency of the elastic thread to snap back and into the looper area when the elastic thread is cut at the end of the row of stitching

Sometimes even pulling the thread out 10 inches didn’t help. I’d cut the thread and it would snap and hide.   I avoided the snap-and-hide routine, by pulling excess the thread into the looper area

and then cutting the threads. It was an extra step I wish I didn’t need to do, but much better to take the time, open the door and pull the thread down into the looper area instead of rethreading and for me, using the spyder to pull up the elastic thread.

My completed shirring project will be posted tomorrow.


Whats In the CookBook



Posted in GathersNRuffles | 5 Comments

Janome Adjustable Seam Guide

I’m introducing this tool now because it was essential for my next project.

The Adjustable Seam guide is similar to the quilting guide used on most sewing machines.  It consists of two pieces, the foot and the bar.

Assemble these two pieces by inserting the bar in the hole on the side of the guide

Tighten the top knob slightly,


then insert the bar into the hole on the back of the CPX’s foot

I believe you can mount the guide either through the right or left. Here I have inserted it on the right because I prefer to work with the bulk of my project hanging off on the left instead of jammed up inside the harp.

The lower knob by the fabric guide

adjusts the position of the fabric guide forward and back. So it can stick-out way-in-front or snuggle up right next to the base of the device.

Once the attachment is on the machine, loosen the upper knob to change the fabric guide’s position left or right.

I wish I had this tool at the time I made the Kitchen Curtains. I needed hems 4″ wide. The JHG would only allow for hems up to 1-3/4″.  For my curtains, I was back to using blue tape. Which works, but I like the seam guide better.  The Adjustable Seam Guide has that little lever in front.  I bump my fabric up next to it and maintain a perfect width.  With blue tape, I have another thing to watch that of the fabric not crossing the edge of the blue tape.

I purchased this from Kens Sewing Center for a mere $19.99. (I think I ran the order through Amazon where I qualify for free shipping and don’t have to hunt up my credit card info.)  A pleasant and unexpected benefit of the Janome machine has been accessories that are more reasonably priced if compared with Babylock, Viking or Bernina; and more readily available.  I have to hunt long and hard for accessories for my Viking Designer Ruby and sometimes have to special order.  Same thing goes with the S21 serger and usually the price is 2 or 3 times greater than the cost of the Janome equivalent.


Whats In the CookBook


Posted in Accessories | 2 Comments

Gathers and Ruffles

Because they are so on trend, I’ve been thinking about buying a ruffling foot for my SM.  It is a beast of a foot with an accompanying price; about $80.  The price caused me to hesitate.  I purchased a ruffling foot about 20 years ago for my previous machine the Bernina 1630.  In all the years I owned that foot and machine, I made ruffles but once.  Did I really want to invest again in an expensive foot which I might not use?  I was searching for perhaps a cheaper source when I crossed the idea that a serger, without a special foot, could be used for gathering.  I like that idea, except that a serger gathers only at the edge. Many of the trendy gathers are down the center of a strip. How could I get gathers down the center of a strip?

I moved to the Cover Stitch machine and started playing with settings.   I found that ruffles and gathers can be created on the CS and placed wherever wanted: one-side, center or both sides. Here’s how

  • Using  a strip of woven rayon fabric 2″ wide and 18″ long.
  • Standard thread in needles and looper
  • Set stitch length to 4
  • Set differential to +2.5
  • Tensions 3/3/2 (left needle, right needle looper)

The result was fabulous. I can’t remember when I wanted more gathering than this. I never want to make and then control thousands of little pleats. I admire such work but don’t want to do it myself.  So when I pulled this out of the CS, I was sold. No need for a bulky, expensive foot.  No need for special thread or setup, just crank up the differential and let ‘er rip gather.

Then I sat down to do my first real project which would involve gathers.  For that project I’m using a jersey knit with 25% stretch. It’s not the lightest of jersey knits but certainly not a sweater knit. I also wanted narrow strips but not sure how narrow.  I cut 1″, 1.25″ and 1.5″ strips.  Because this was sample for an actual garment, I finished the edges using a serger rolled hem. Then over to the CS.

Each of the samples are trimmed slightly when the edge is finished at the serger. That was the easiest way to get a clean edge. Trimming both sides reduced the width maybe 1/8″.  I used the same settings as for the rayon and was totally shocked at how little the knit ruffled:

I also disliked the width of the ruffle, for the current project.  Let me correct any wrong impressions.  The first sample of the knit is not the look I wanted, but it could be useful at another time for another project. Since I didn’t care for the width, I didn’t change the CS settings but  switched to using the strip which was cut at 1″ probably finishing at 7/8″.

I liked the width of this ruffle, for my current project, but was disappointed with how little it ruffled. Also, the two needles seemed to take up 1/3 of the width. While not bad, maybe useful for another project, it was not the look I wanted today.

I removed one needle and stopped to do a little research. “Gathering on the CS” produced no search results on Google. “Serger gathering” produced a few which all recommend increasing needle tension. <light bulb>

  • Fabric strip:  jersey knit 1″ and 18″ long.
  • Standard thread in left needle
  • Right needle removed
  • Standard thread in looper
  • Stitch length  4
  • Differential to +2.5
  • Tensions 6/-/2

I’m tickled with this little devil.  He wants to curl up even beneath the scanner lid.  But I do wonder about the effect of using the chain side up.  See, chain side allows for additional embelishments. A lovely thread or yarn on top could be a good thing.  So I ran another strip through the CS, but with the knit side down (laying on the feed dogs) thus allowing the chain to form on the public side of my strip.


The chain is indeed more prominent visually but somehow this flattens the ruffle slightly.  This sample does not want to gather as much as the sample with the thread side up.  I did not make more samples.  Sample #3, the curly guy, is what I want for the current project.  I can easily see testing with more tension on the needles and also changing the looper thread to wooly nylon.  Also the Janome “X” models have a Stitch Tightening System. I used recommended settings of right for 2 needles and left for single needle.  Changing the STS is another option when sampling. For now, this is more than good enough, it is perfect!

Finished project will be shared tomorrow.


Whats In the CookBook

Because of the number of samples, and the differences each setting and fabric produced, I have 5 pages to add to my Cookbook. Each page contains a sample and its settings.

Posted in GathersNRuffles | 2 Comments

Cover Stitching Corners

^^^I first published this information On July 24, 2013,  in  KS2599 & Taking Corners with the Cover Stitch. I feel this is important information as it documents how to use a Cover Stitch machine to navigate corners. I’m repeating this information today so that I can have all my CS techniques in a single place that I can easily access for future projects.   ^^^

I’m enamored with the  top stitching capabilities of my cover stitch machine.  Just a few weeks ago and with a reference provided a blog comment, I spent time testing CS top stitching that would also negotiate 90 degree corners in a professional and beautiful manner.  The sample I’m sharing today was used on a back vent of a maxi- dress.  To execute a really neat finish both inside and out, the seam allowances were pressed flat and open then held in place with Steam A Seam.    By trial and error, I found options which produced very different end results.

For instance, if  the left needle is down and the fabric turned, a thread would drag producing…

a weird divot at one corner and odd stitching line on the other. It was also difficult to turn the fabric with the needle in place.

I decided to try an alternate stitching procedure

    • stitch up to the turning point
    • lift both needles completely from the fabric
    • lift the presser foot
    •  turn the fabric and align the needles along the inner stitching

This gave me  a consistent and even turn line.  It’s not the repeat that I wanted on my dress vent, but might be a possibility for something else.

Third time’s the charm. I

    • stitch up to the turning point
    • lift both needles completely
    • lift the presser foot
    •  turn the fabric and align the needles along the outer stitching line

This produced a beautiful, exciting diagonal which is mirrored on the other side of the vent.



Whats In the CookBook

BLCS Instructions:

The Samples:

Housekeeping: At this point I also renumbered my pages to reflect topic rather than page number. It’s a numbering convention seen in many technical manuals. Each topic is numbered. So the JHG topic is now topic  6. There were several pages so the first page is number 6a, the second 6b and so on.  Readers of the blog won’t care but it helps me keep the multiple pages together. I also eliminated “Page” from the “What’s In the Cookbook” section at the bottom of each post.

Posted in Embellishments, Top Stitching | 2 Comments


Yes, using the Cover Stitch machine for pin tucks.   I used pin tucks extensively at my Bernina 1630. They were always a problem.  The threads would insist upon twisting, despite my careful threading and using both sides of the take up lever (the recommended solution). I used them anyway, because I simply love the effect.  I primarily used the 2 and  4mm pin tucks.  I have the entire range of twin needles but rarely use other than the 2.0 or 4.0. I either want something with a little texture or a lot. The 1mm didn’t seem worth the effort; 2.5 or 3 didn’t seem to be much different. So I used the 2mm and if i wanted a lot of texture, I pulled out my 4mm twin needle.  Why is this important?  Well I wanted to try pintucks with the cover stitch.  It seemed like a perfect setup.  The CS provides 2 completely separate thread paths which should eliminate the thread crossing issue I always struggled with. But I wasn’t sure that the 5mm pin tuck, the only width available on my 900CPX would be satisfactory. It’s definitely more texture than any of the twin needles I’ve previously used.

I chose to use the  Otto’s Basic Tank pattern. I’m still tweaking the fit and it seems like a no-brainer to me that adding a little embellishment would make the project more interesting.

For fabric I chose to use a cotton jersey with 50% stretch.  This is a light weight jersey which made it into my stash by virtue of it’s beautiful rich blue color. Seriously, this fabric was a pain. The combination of light weight and single knit, produces a fabric which curls madly or should that be madenly. It was enough to pull hair.

I wanted pin tucks, but didn’t want a single row or even straight rows of pin tucks.   I decided upon a curved design I’d first seen (long long ago) in the “Sewing Update” Newletter dated Nov/Dec 1996. The Newletter is defunct but the ideas presented and this design in particular are timeless.


The original design was formed using serger spaghetti –long runs of 4-thread serger stitching made off the fabric.  I did not copy this design exactly. But rather allowed myself to be inspired by it.

I was limited on fabric and chose to test on a weight of jersey similar to my chosen fabric.  I cut a rectangle 10×12″ and sat down at the CS to experiment. In the needles, I’m decided upon using Polyester Embroidery Thread (Marathon color 2045) because I wanted a rich, shiny color that color matched some glass bead in my stash.  I tested with single strands or thread but wanted more impact.  I loaded 2 bobbins and put them in the BobNSerge. I threaded 2 threads through each needle to get the desired look.  I changed the looper thread to a  wooly nylon.  It stretches while stitching and then draws together when the stitch is complete. This makes a  tight pin tuck which stands up nicely.

During my samples I was mostly anxious about how the CS would handle the curves and how much the pin tucking would affect the size of fabric.  I started all stitching on the upper right hand side. This caused that edge to pull downward. Otherwise, the sample’s shape wasn’t greatly affected.  I was still concerned, though. I chose to chalk the outline of the front pattern piece upon a largish rectangle of fabric and then add 1 inch to the height of the right shoulder.

I chalked curved lines within the tank top’s chalked outline until I was satisfied with the design.

At the CS, I stitched following the chalked design lines starting not at what would be the garments shoulder but at the mark  1″ higher. I do mean I followed the lines.  I put the center guide onto the clear foot and steered it right down the chalked line.

Repeat until all done, spray starch and lightly press from the wrong side.

Still concerned about the pin tucks affecting shape, I placed my pattern tissue back on top of the fabric and outlined the full tank top again before trimming with my rotary cutter.

After that it was mostly standard construction.  I did use my 1-1/4″ binder to finish the neckline and armscyes. This jersey was a pain, twisting and curling despite it’s 3 coats of spray starch. I also hemmed  using the CS.Since this jersey wanted to curl badly, I pre-pressed the hem and used Steam A Seam to secure the hem in place. I used the JHG,  putting the folded hem edge underneath the front guide and just up against the same.

When I started, I envisioned hand sewing little beads onto the design and left the beading until the last. At which point I asked, “Who am I kidding?”.  Truth is when I secure beads and stuff to fabric which my hand stitching, they all come loose.  These are glass beads which I truly wished not to lose.  So when I was all done, instead of some hand stitching, I put sheets of paper between front and back and used E6000 to glue the little suckers into place.   I have pictures on me, this tank is fitting me really good, but I wanted to show off those beads and the pin tucking, so I’m sharing pictures on Mimie.

I think it is gorgeouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuus.

My Thoughts:  I wish I had purchased the 1000CPX just for  pin tucking. Pin tucks on the CS are wonderfully easy. No problems with twisting threads or anything.   Having a 2.5 and a 5mm wide pin tuck would have been good enough for me 99% of the time.  I did not test tightly curled/curved pin tucks (I have future post about making right angle turns with the CS). I rarely use a tightly curled design element.  I do love how easy it is to choose either a wide flat ending or form a point by pull the threads to the back side and knotting  all tightly together.


Whats In the CookBook

The Sample plus pics and setting of finished project.

Posted in Embellishments, Project | 9 Comments