Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Topstitching help please

I mentioned on the post about my Peggy skirt that I had some issues with the topstitching.

It looks ok from the right side (bar a few skipped stitches on the sections where there are a lot of layers):

But pretty awful from the wrong side as you can see below:

Believe it or not, this is a distinct improvement on how it looked originally. 

Based on advice from Twitter and Instagram, I switched from a denim needle to a topstitching one and used normal thread in the bobbin with topstitching thread on top only. I fiddled with the tension on the top thread.

These lessened the problem considerably but it's still not great.  My machine didn't seem to have any issues with sewing the layers with normal thread, just with topstitching thread.

The only thing I could find online was that Gutermann topstitching thread (which I used) is apparently much thicker than other brands.

Can anyone shed any light on my problem? Any great topstitching tips to share? Have you found that the brand of thread made a difference? All suggestions gratefully received as I want to make jeans at some point and that's a lot of topstitching!  

26 comments:

  1. First, try using a bigger needle. Gutermann's website recs 100-120 for their topstitching thread which is American 16-19. . However...my machine HATES topstitching thread in the needle, no matter what needle I use, no matter how I set the tension. When I really want to use topstitching thread I have to use it only on the bobbin, and stitch from the wrong side.

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    1. i did use a topstitching needle but i will check the size! thanks! interesting you have the threads the other way around to what i was advised. will try that!

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  2. Yes, big needle, and experiment with topstitching thread. Some threads produce better results than others. To avoid skipped stitches at thick junctions, whack them with a hammer a few times to make them thinner.

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    1. thanks lena. i will see if i can get a bigger needle! great advice on avoiding skipped stitches too!

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  3. If the 120 needles doesn't work, keep in mind that most newer machines hate topstitching thread. A vintage mechanical is an option but until that happens .. :-) .... use two regular threads through the same needle or if your machine has it, the triple straight stitch which goes forward-back-forward for 3 stitches in the same holes to produce a thicker looking stitch. Practice it on scraps to get used to the rhythm. Another option is buttonhole thread instead of topstitching thread. A little thinner, but still thicker than regular thread.

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    1. a vintage mechanical would be lovely but i don't think it's in my near future! that's great advice - i will try the triple stitch - thank you!

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  4. I have never had great luck with top stitching thread on denim, but I have done it.
    Pressing with a lot of steam and using a hammer on the seam to be top stitched will flatten the area.
    Another trick is to thread the needle with two threads by stacking a wound bobbin on top of your spool. Lastly, if you have not done so, lengthen the stitch to at least 3mm.
    All of the suggestions given by the other commenters are good ones too

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    1. i was using a 3mm stitch length so at least i got that bit right! i'll try the double threading trick - thanks!

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  5. I had that exact same problem. That is a top thread problem per my dealer and he said to put up my tension (which I know you've already done). But have you tried cranking it up really high? That's what needed to happen on my Bernina and the problem went away. I have no idea why I needed to be at an 8, but I was also using the Guterman top stitching thread.

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    1. i don't think i cranked it up all the way - i will try that. thank you! interesting that your dealer said it's a machine issue - i was assuming totally user error!

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  6. Gutterman is definitely thicker. Try coats thread instead as it's much softer (fabricland). The only other thing I can think is to have the thicker thread in the bobbin and normal thread on top and stitch reverse side up! I think I do this sometimes!

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    1. i will try coats - thanks marilla! i'm def going to try stitching it the other way up!

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  7. I like to have the same thread in the bobbin and on the top otherwise one pulls against another even if that means changing my tension for top stitching thread all round. I have two bobbins wound ready for a project so that I can switch them easily. Also I would cut a v out on the wrong side where there are double seam joins. Hope that helps and you have made me think now because I want to make my own jeans and have been making a muslin here: http://joeveryday19.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/prototype.html#comments

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    1. thanks jo - your propotype jeans look great! such a fab fit! i am definitely going to have to make jeans to practise all these fab topstitching tips!

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    2. I sometimes end up with topstitching that is all wonky like yours and often find it's because the fabric isn't feeding evenly, especially over multiple thicknesses. I've had some success using a walking foot but mostly I just wind by hand over the tricky areas. :-)

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    3. thanks louise. i tried using the built in IDT (my machine's version of a walking foot) but it didn't make a difference. i think winding my hand might have been the answer!

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  8. I find my machine hates topstitching thread too. As someone else has already said, try swapping the bobbin and the top thread around, and stitching from the wrong side?

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    1. i'll have a g the next time hannah - thanks!

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  9. I do the opposite of what people are recommending. I turn DOWN the tension at the top, and use ordinary thread in the bottom and top stitching thread on the top. And I would lengthen the stitch as well. It looks too short. And you need a "hump jumper" for the thicker parts.

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    1. thanks! i will try that too! i do have a hump jumper type tool that came with my machine but it doesn't really work if the thicker bit is in the middle of a seam. i will need to get something else.

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  10. Watching your comments intently! Topstitching layers of denim is what is totally putting me off making a pair of jeans. How frustrating for you to have got so far. I'm sure it will be an hallelujah moment for you real soon though Jo and I will help with the hoorays!!! xxx

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    1. we'll both get there in the end janene!

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  11. I had similar issues at first. I increased the tension to 9, increased stitch length to 3.5, used regular thread in the lower bobbin and a topstitching needle.

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  12. That has happened to me when a) I need to change the needle (which you've already done, so not applicable LOL) or b) somehow my thread has jumped out of one of the guides, or c) I'm trying to sew through way too many layers for my machine and it's rebelling LOL. I'm guessing it might have to do with the thickness of your fabric, and the uneven bits that necessarily come with those sorts of things. Hope you get it sorted - my guess is you just have to fiddle with your machine to figure out how to woo it into submission! LOL

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  13. I used to get the same results with my topstitching. All I can suggest is try Gutermann Upholstery thread on top, normal thread in bobbin, normal tension. Alternatively try double normal thread on top, single in bobbin, normal tension. Use a topstitching or jeans needle. Both those methods work for me. I prefer the upholstery thread but that depends on the limited colours available.

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