Koala-ty work- by Lisa Ha

I love to sew for my two young kids and two years ago I bought a serger to help me take the plunge into learning to sew with knit fabrics. I started off by sewing patterns that have cuff sleeves and ankles.  These easy projects are quick to sew from start to finish. There are so many cute patterns out there that require hemming and topstitching but I was nervous to try them because I had read that hemming knits with a sewing machine can be a bit difficult to get right.

Walking Foot!

Determined to learn a new skill, I did some research and discovered a few tricks for hemming knit fabrics.  I purchased a walking foot, some hem tape and a double needle and I selected a t-shirt dress pattern as my experiment. This adorable koala fabric from l’oiseau was perfect for this project. I selected some solid fabrics to accentuate the nose and cheeks on the koalas and bring some contrast to the dress.


My first step was to get my pattern pieces ready and the fabric all cut. I decided to modify the t-shirt dress pattern a bit to add side panels and pockets because what 2 year old doesn’t like pockets? I just cut the pattern and added seam allowance to both pieces. Now I can get creative with some colour blocking!


With all my pieces cut I’m ready to start sewing the binding to the pockets. I used my serger to attach the binding to the top, stretching slightly to ensure it lays flat. I wanted to top stitch the pocket binding so I needed to hop over to my sewing machine and install my walking foot. The instructions were very clear and once it was on, I was gliding over the knit fabric with ease…no waviness or bunching. A beautiful single needle top stitch!


I basted the pockets onto the side panels so they wouldn’t shift while serging the sides together. The walking foot helped me get the placement just right.


Next up…sleeves! I wanted to hem the sleeves before attaching them to the dress so I needed to get my double needle on my sewing machine and figure out which settings would work best. I used a Schmetz universal twin 2.0 and found after a lot of trial and error on scrap fabric the best results came with my tension settings at 9 and my stitch length at 3, Maxilock Stretch thread in the bobbin. I fiddled with the settings for maybe 20 minutes before I was happy with the results. I was so happy to see the double stitch on the sleeves and a nice zig zag on the back. Lots of stretch in the hem too!


After I serged the side seams up I tackled the bottom hem with the same great results. Hemming with a double needle is a great way to finish off garments.  I use my walking foot all the time and I love it!


Happy sewing!