Jersey · Singer · Transverse shuttle

Sewing the finest jersey with Singer 48K

My Singer 48K is set up for sewing fine jersey – from single knit light weight to the finest lightest jersey available to buy these days. I already described in detail why this machine is so wonderful, but it has never been easy to find just the right combination of various parameters for that perfect stitch. Well, I think I figured out how to do it! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Just to clarify: this method works on Singer 48K which is a cylinder transverse shuttle machine with spring-driven feed. It should also work on regular TS machines if their shuttles are good enough, but I haven’t tested it. Spring-driven feed is a must, so this method won’t work on a Singer VS for example because it’s a completely different machine with its own rules. It also won’t work on modern machines – doh! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Before you begin, make sure your machine is well oiled and the bobbin is not running out and is not too full – all of that will mess up your tensions. If you are using a large spool of upper thread like those 1,000m or more spools you get these days, use a spool stand. Such spools are too heavy and will make your upper tension uneven.

Example of a spool stand

To make a flexible stitch with 60%-70% stretch on fine jersey use the following settings:

  • Reasonably thin thread, although nothing special is required. Exercise your common sense. ๐Ÿ˜‹
  • A jersey needle size 60 or 70. You can also use a more specialised “stretch” or “microtex” needle for microfiber materials.
  • A short stitch length of 0.5-0.7mm. On my machine this is stitch length 2 1/4 (don’t ask! I know it’s weird but it works).
  • Fairly high foot pressure. On my machine it’s over 3/4 of the pressure range.
  • Fairly light bobbin thread tension but not too low or you get wobbly stitches.
  • Fairly light upper thread tension. Probably about 3 on the scale of 0 to 10.

Now try sewing and see how your fabric takes it. You are after this:

Very fine stitches that disappear into the fabric and stretch with the fabric. If your stitches don’t quite look like that, try the following adjustments.

First of all get the stitch length right. It has to be in relation to the knitted stitches of your jersey. You can go as short as one knitted stitch!

Next balance the tensions. Increase foot pressure to reduce bobbin thread tension – weird, I know, but it works! Also adjust the bobbin tension itself until the bottom stitches look neat. It’s a balancing act. Now adjust the upper tension to get a balanced stitch.

Check that the stitch is actually sufficiently flexible! Stretch the seam and observe both sides of the stitch. This is also a good way to check whether the thread tensions are balanced: both sides should look the same. If one side is taut but the other is not, then you know which tension needs reducing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope this works for you!

If you can’t get a good flexible stitch whatever you do, try lowering the feed dogs a little. It should add stretch to your stitching.

21 thoughts on “Sewing the finest jersey with Singer 48K

  1. I tend to sew 100% cotton or linen or rayon for my boring sewing and really never venture in to things like jersey or stretchy fabrics, but I love to read how you conquer the old and new together, such as in this article. Always a good read. Thanks for such informative posts.

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    1. Yes, I found to my surprise that the really old machines with “outdated” mechanisms give by far the best results on our modern stretchy fabrics – and such materials did not exist when the machines were modern themselves! The old and the new, as you say, it comes full circle! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. That’s wonderful. I have to admit I have lusted after the Ottoman Roses pattern for years . . . not to be found and worth the price. I also have too many machines! But what is it about some things that just excite you and make your day? I just finished up oiling my treadle (a The Free #5) and my Kenmore 158-90 so I can make a dress. The treadle for the straight stitching, but the Kenmore if I decide to zigzag the edges – I have a very ravely fabric. Or, French seams!

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      2. Does your Kenmore take cams? If yes, do you have a strange cam that makes a sort of random width zig-zag? That’s the best thing against fraying. I found often enough that all that happens with regular overedging is that a whole strip comes off. Randomised zig-zag helps to avoid it because it catches the fabric in several places, not just along one grain.

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      3. My Kenmore has built in zig zan and has cams, too. I have never considered a randomized zig zag – need to look into that one. Perhaps one of the cams will work that way. You got me thinkin”!

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    1. You live in the right country forgetting one! It was only ever made in two countries: the UK and Imperial Russia. Good luck getting one from there. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      Since you like quilting, I think you might like the 48K, although of course this is not a long arm by any stretch of imagination. But I found it very maneuverable when I was quilting the panels for my overlocker bag here: https://vintagesewingmachinesblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/those-gears-need-work/

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  2. Hah! I didn’t even notice the typo! I shall be keeping my eye open for one. Not in the near future as not so much room to add more, but it doesn’t hurt to look! ๐Ÿ˜€

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      1. Still waiting on planning permission – just had the ecopeeps in to check for bats! They actually found evidence of mice (yes we knew the little blighters were eating our squash and spuds in storage) but recent rat activity – dang! They ate what the mice left! But no bats. The sooner that leaking, creaking shack is brought down the better – for me, several machines, fabric, books, and all the gadgets – and a longarm and then playtime commences! LOL! But I think it will be some time before that happens. Having trouble just trying to get a barn built! Separate planning for that and oh dear me, even the council give out contrary advice to the surveyor! They haven’t even got as far as the kitchen extension yet, but I guess that will be dragging on for months too! Meh! Hey ho it’s raining (again) – better feed the birds! Am a tad relieved I sorted out the duck pools this morning! xxxx

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      2. Working on that – years ago the children were having a rough and tumble with my husband upstairs and I heard “MUM MUM! We’ve got dad tied down quick go to the pet shop and get a cat!” Well, that didn’t happen but we did get a rabbit soon after that! LOL!

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      3. Hahaha – thankfully not. That was our last house – no rat problem there. It was a dwarf lop – she did indeed get very spiteful until I decided to lay her on her back on my lap and just stroke her tummy – she went to sleep! Then when my Canadian cousin (well 2nd or once removed – cuz is good enough) came the following year she couldn’t believe it was the same animal. She later became a house bunny and that was such fun. She was the equivalent to a labrador – ate lots of food and became a fat rabbit – even with an outdoor run on the grass! But she had the run of the house which kept her more trim – boy did she race around then flop over in front of the fire! Sort of a mini catdograbbit!

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