Creating Straps with Cover Stitch
Before I get into the technique, a few words about BabyLock. Did you know that BabyLock was the first manufacturer to create a serger for home use? BabyLock holds 14 patents on their sergers and many of those are features we’ve come to love (revolutionaire threading, automatic thread delivery system to name the top 2). Another thing they have done is provide us with a plethora of feet and attachments to make the things we do easier. We’ll be using a few of them for this project.
First the Double Fold Bias Binders, we have 5 of them! The top two are for woven. As the name implies, you will be most successful if you cut your fabric strips on the bias. I have had success with straight grain fabrics, I’ve also had some failures.
Figuring out what size you want can be challenging, everything is metric and the sizing is different for the 2 woven fabric binders than the other 3. The sizes I’m going to give you are approximate and based on the closest match when converting from metric to imperial.
Woven Fabric Binders:
28mm – refers to the width the fabric strips should be cut. In this case 1 1/8”. This binder will give you a ¼” finished binding.
36mm – refers to the width of the fabric strips. In this case, 1 3/8”. This binder will give you a ½” finished binding.
15mm – refers to the finished width of the binding, approximately ½”.
10mm – refers to the finished width of the binding, approximately 3/8”.
8mm – refers to the finished width of the binding, approximately ¼”.
These binders do have the width of the fabric strips noted on them too – in metric. I’ll show you an easy way of figuring that out.
By measuring the part of the binder the fabric enters. I can see that I need fabric strips about 1 ½” wide
By doing this not all of my strips had the same angle at both ends notice that the top strip has opposing angles.
This is not a problem because there will be others like this we just have to match. I do this at the cutting table, not at the machine. I match the angles and pin the pieces together. I am less likely to end up with a mismatch and I can chain stitch the strips together faster.
All BabyLock serger feet have notches showing where the needles are going too. The 2 on the right are overlock, the 3 on the left are cover stitch. I have my machine set up with the left (O1) overlock needle and that notch on the foot made easy work of aligning my strips so that they matched at the seam. I marked the notches on the foot with a sharpie so they would show up in the picture, but I think I’m going to leave them, much easier to see on the clear foot.
All sewn, now to the ironing board to set and press the seams.
As with all sewing, setting the seam plants the thread into the fabric and makes a nicer finish on the right side. When using the binders, spray starch will help the fabric feed through the binder and fold where it should. Best Press will work too, but you may need to spray it a couple of times, you want the fabric to be semi stiff.
The final step in fabric prep is to cut a point on the end of the strip and remove the dog ears. The point makes it easier to get the fabric started through the binder. Try to keep the point centered on the strip, it will help you make sure that the fabric is feeding evenly. If the fabric goes into the binder crooked, you will not be able to keep the stitches on the fabric, it will just keep going its own way and you will fight it for the full length of the strip.
Now to the machine. The binding can be sewn with a chain stitch or cover stitch. Whichever you choose, be sure that you use needle C1 – left needle. While the instructions for the attachment say you can use any of the needles for chain stitch or any combination for cover stitch, my experience has been that not using the left needle puts the binding off the left-side feed dogs and it is a constant struggle to keep the binding feeding correctly. I have the chain/cover stitch foot on my machine. It is a bit shorter than the regular foot and not recommended in the attachment instructions, but It didn’t pose a problem when I sewed my straps. I centered the attachment with the notches on the foot and threaded my machine for a chain stitch, using needle C1.
Using the slot on the attachment, thread the fabric strip into the attachment with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. You can push the fabric through with a tweezer or other pointed tool. Once the fabric comes out the end, grab the point you cut with tweezers and pull it until it is under the machine foot and near the needles, making sure that the point you cut is in the center of the fold that the attachment creates, this insures that the fabric is folding evenly and straight.
We’re ready to sew. Start slow and make sure that the fabric is not only feeding from the front but also coming out the back. Occasionally I have had the fabric get stuck in the space between the front and back feed dogs. If this happens, lift the foot and use your tweezers to get it going. I have also found that placing the tweezers or a small skewer against the fabric as it comes out of the attachment encourages it to keep the fold as it is fed under the foot. As the seams enter the attachment, make sure that they lay in the direction you pressed them.
Now for the Belt Loop Binder
We have two to choose from. The size of the binders refer to the width of the cut fabric strips.
The ¾” binder will give you a scant ½” strap and the 1 ½” binder will give you a scant ¾” strap. For this project we’ll be using the ¾” binder. You can measure the width of the attachment to determine the width of the fabric strips.
Cutting and joining the fabric strips goes much the same as the double fold bias binders. I wanted the fabric to overlap a bit on the back so I cut my strips 1” wide, slightly wider than the attachment called for. Cutting these on grain rather than bias won’t cause any feeding problems, but would make the fabric more prone to fraying so I cut mine on the bias. Press the strips with starch or Best Press.
Thread your machine for a wide cover stitch using needles C1 and C3.
Center the attachment between the notches on the foot. Set the attachment as close to the foot as possible, but not over the feed dogs.
Again, you’ll want to cut a point to help feed the fabric through the attachment and make sure that the fabric is feeding evenly. Thread the fabric through the attachment with the right side facing up. Make sure that the fabric point is in the center of the strap. Pull the fabric until it is under the foot and near the needles.
Begin sewing slowly making sure that the fabric is feeding out the back. Encourge the fold to stay put by placing your tweezer or other pointed tool between the attachment and the foot. You may have to stop occasionally to adjust the strap and keep it feeding straight. If this happens, stop with the needles up, lift the presser foot, adjust then begin again.
That’s it. Couldn’t be easier.
The picture shows only the wrong side of the strap. Poor planning on my part.