Welcome to the Swimsuit Sewalong! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, be sure to go back and read the Announcement Post and get ready & excited to make your own swimsuit!
As I thought about the order in which to present the various topics to be covered in this swimsuit sew-along, I wrestled with what to cover first. I finally settled on our sewing machines as I felt that if yours needed to be dusted off, or you needed to borrow from someone, this might take the longest to get situated. So here we go!
Though it is really nice to have an overlock machine, it is not necessary for making your swimsuit. If you have one, by all means, plan to use it! But all you really need is a machine with stitch #1 or #2 below.
#1 is a simple zigzag stitch, #2 is a three-step zig-zag and either one work beautifully. So stop right now and check your machine. It’s a very standard stitch and I know if you have a sewing machine, you most likely have a zig zag stitch.
Whether it’s been a while since you used your machine, or you use it a lot, take some time to baby it. Pull out your instruction manual and read up on how to clean & oil your machine. If the instruction manual is misplaced, simply check your manufacturer’s website or google “how to clean and oil _(make & model)_ machine” and be sure you trust the source. If you’ve been wanting to have your machine serviced, take it in now. Sometimes it takes a week or two so get it in sooner rather than later.
Next, you will need to get the right needle for the job. One of the cheapest & easiest steps to prepare for project success is to make sure you get the correct needle for the fabric you will be sewing. I have worked with machines I thought were pretty gutless, but when I put a jeans needle in, it went right through that hem. For sewing knits and stretchy fabrics, you will need a stretch or ball point needle. The reason being that if a knit strand of thread is cut with a sharp needle, it produces a hole that will enlarge when the loose fibers pull back from the cut. To prevent this, the ball point needle is designed to push aside the individual strands of the knit (Source) Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what to look for.
Different machines take different brand needles, so be sure to check your instruction manual to ensure you purchase the correct brand. If you would like a truly professional finish, you may also get a stretch twin needle to produce two parallel rows of stitching on the top of your project and an overlock-style stitch on the bottom. This is the stitch your t-shirts are generally hemmed with.
For those of you using an overlock machine (serger), check your manual to see if there are Ballpoint needles available to use with your machine. Sewing machine oil & needles should be available at any fabric store or, if you have trouble finding the right supplies for your machine, check online. Please let me know if you have trouble with collecting these – I’d be happy to help!
So let’s get our machines ready and in the next post we’ll discuss patterns. I cannot wait to show you the variety of patterns available! See you then!