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What Can Happen When You Use a Topstitch Needle to Construct Yoga Pants

Hey Everyone…   I have a number of exciting projects going on and I wanted to sew some yoga pants for Anna to take back to school with her.  So I switched from working on some Fashion Serger Techniques to plain old knit construction.  It was then that I had a “do what I say…not what I do” moment.  Instead of changing my needles to something more appropriate for knit fabric, I decided to leave the needles I was using in my serger.  Everything seemed to be fine.  I made the yoga pants and gave them to Anna to try on.   Everything still seemed fine, she loved them and flopped down on the couch to watch some TV.  A little while later she came back up to show me that I must have “left a hole” in the back.  The waistband had separated from the pants across the entire back!   I thought I must have not caught the fabric completely when I stitched the waistband to the pants…. so I switched the serger on and went around again, carefully trimming off an 1/8″ as I went.  This time when Anna pulled the pants on, her fingers went right through the seam on both sides!

Looking more carefully at the damage, I realized that the fabric was sheering away from the base of the stitching.  Then I checked my needles and discovered that I had been working with a topstitch needle in my previous project.  Even worse, it was a size 16 needle… way to huge for knit fabric.   I know that it’s important to use the  appropriate needle for the job, but I didn’t realize that the consequences could be so dramatic!

Needles are super important… I almost feel silly sharing this experience with you.  I use Schemtz Brand Needles because they are the best, and they have a wide variety of specialty needles so you can sew happy, no matter what you’re working on!   Here is link to the Schmetz Needles website… Check out today’s quick tip video for all the gory details.

5 thoughts on “What Can Happen When You Use a Topstitch Needle to Construct Yoga Pants

  1. Ohhh, ok. Thanks for clearing this up.

  2. Hi Jennifer.
    Bought my Ovation a little over a year ago and did not have any needle difficulties until last week.
    Was doing a cover stitch on an ITY knit and it was terrible. Bunched up and formed a “ridge”.
    ….Then I tried it on various scraps..worked beautifully on fleece a heavy cotton but continued to form ridges on the ITY and a silk jersey scrap. Ridges on the front (good side of fabric) and a loose ladder like row of stitching on the back.
    Aha! Eureka!
    New needles. Just put in two new ballpoints and the problem disappeared.
    I DO NOT always follow the recommended needle and thread suggestions and have not experienced any other difficulties other than “my own errors such as threading, etc…..always easy to find the error of my ways by using the trouble shooting section of machine manual”
    I find the Ovation to be a very forgiving machine in terms of thread and needles.
    My 30 some year old serger, a Viking work horse, had become temperamental and had to be retired. Poor thing; it served me well!
    So….in essence: In my one year experience with the Ovation I have found that it can “take” almost any thread without any difficulties and the same for needles.
    Thank you for the tutorials and in sharing your sewing experiences. Even after many, many years of sewing, I am still on a learning curve….So many new tips and tricks out there which I love to see.
    Good work, Jennifer! 🙂

    1. Hi JoAnnie, I’m glad you were able to trouble shoot your ITY topstitching problem. Stitching on a variety of knits to see what happens is a great idea. I agree that the Ovation is a very forgiving machine, Thank you for sharing your solution to bunched up ITY fabric. Keep me posted if you ever need help with anything. Jen

  3. I always find needles confusing. I didn’t know that a universal needle would work on a knit. Also, what is the difference between a jersey and stretch needle, and is a ballpoint needle ever appropriate for knits? Finally, how do you decide which size to use? Thanks.

    1. Hi Kathy, That’s a great question… and maybe a good subject for a future video 🙂 Meanwhile, Jersey and Ball Point are the same needle. They are the “Classic” knit fabric needle designed with a ball point that does not damage fibers. Use on knits and some woven fabrics. A stretch needle has the same ball point but also has a deeper groove along the scarf (the portion of the needle directly above the eye of the needle). The thread can nestle into the groove to help prevent skipped stitches. This needle is designed for the more “Modern” knits with a higher percentage of elasticity and for synthetic suede. …Of course, you could use a stretch needle with most knit fabrics and it will work fine. The universal needle may damage knits with less durable fibers. That’s why I test a scrap to see what I can get away with 🙂

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