Clothes · Feet · Jersey · Nanotex · Sewing technique · Stoewer · Vibrating shuttle

Sewing nanotex jersey, or the vibrating shuttle supremacy

It’s the latest thing in textiles – the nanotex, or fabrics made of extremely fine fibres, finer than microfibre, hence the “nano” bit. The fabrics themselves can have a substantial body to them, the theory being that using multi-stranded extra fine fibres is closer to nature since this is what fine wool and silk are made up of. And closer to nature should be better since we haven’t yet invented a man-made fibre that would be as nice to wear as the natural ones.

The dress

And so I figured I’d make a nanotex dress and test the new wonder cloth in action. I had two pieces of blue nanotex jersey, different fabrics, and neither piece quite large enough for anything, but together they would make a nice six panel skirt with long godets, and that combined with another smallish piece of ice blue loose knit eye lash jersey should result in a dress.

But first I’ve got to overcome the usual obstacles in fabric cutting.

No, it’s not Tom’s blankie.

Piping on jersey, flexibly sewn

The top of the dress is made of that loose knit eye lash jersey. I am finishing the neck line with satin piping. It is cut on the bias and has a knitted flexible cord, so it can and should remain flexible with the jersey, provided that the stitching is flexible too. Chain stitch to the rescue!

I am using this nifty cording/piping foot with chain stitch on Freya (Frister+Rossmann 804).

It has a sizable groove on the underside that glides over the cord in the piping and stitches exactly next to it.

With the edge overlocked, I fold it in and chain stitch it in place with Mathilde (Essex). I could have done it with Freya as well, but it was quicker to swap machines than to change the foot and thread on Freya (white on Freya, ice blue on Mathilde, used to sew the seams).

The seam blends into the eye lashes and is completely invisible. The piped edging can be pulled up by the cord ensuring that it lies flat.

Sewing up the blues

The skirt panels are made of blue #1 which is a non-stretch(!) jersey, the godets are of blue #2 which is textured stretch jersey. I put the two fabrics together and try stitching.

Mathilde makes a decent chain stitch without skipping, but the combined bulk is a bit too much for her, so the seam is pulling up.

Freya refuses to stitch this altogether, lockstitch or chain stitch, sharp, ball point or stretch needle, even the very best thread doesn’t help. She skips more stitches than she manages to form. 😦 Clearly, the nanofibres confuse her, although she has no problems at all with fine silks or wool that this nanotex is attempting to imitate.

The vibrating shuttle supremacy

Faced with such resistance, I wind a long bobbin for Greta – a 1905 Stoewer VS3.

To avoid slipping and sliding of the smooth jersey on the textured one, I use a small walking foot, also referred to as a jersey foot or even a darning foot.

There you see the teeth being raised allowing the foot to slide over the fabric.

Greta makes a perfect stitch at her first attempt. The vibrating shuttle mechanism creates a low tension stitch that has enough length of thread in it to weave in and out of the bulk of material without squeezing the life out of it.

Difficult fabrics? Bring it on! We’re 112 years old, and your latest nanotex will be tamed by our Vibrating Shuttle.

The dress – finished

I ended up sewing the rest of the dress with Greta. I’m sure some of the other machines would have been able to do it too, but having wasted half an hour trying to get Freya to work, I was really not in the mood for further try-outs. Greta works every time. The vibrating shuttle performs its magic on any fabric, with any thread – I have so far not found a material it would not be able to sew beautifully, and from the first attempt.

The dress is finished, and here is the result.

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