Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mending with a Stippling Foot

This is my stippling foot. I just had to have it... and then not use it much. But it's one of those tools which, when you need it, there is no substitute. Its first major project was the Vinyl Flames Applique NYE dress. This time, it was mending a vertical tear in the leg of a pair of blue jeans.

The foot attaches to the machine in place of the ankle, with a spring-loaded lever that goes over-top of the needle-mounting screw. The picture at left shows the foot installed on my machine, with the needle off. With the feed dogs down (inactivated), the open-toed presser foot presses down on the fabric on the down-stroke, and is lifted off the fabric completely on the up-stroke. This allows you to move the fabric around freely. The stippling foot is also referred to as a free-motion or freehand embroidery foot, as it allows you to essentially draw any shape you like, in any direction. (Sewing nerdness complete.)

Recently, a coworker gave me a pair of jeans with a long tear down the front of the left upper thigh, which I'd apparently at some point agreed to mend. (I have no memory of this... but what the hell, I'm a giver.) She had a quadrupled piece of skull and crossbones quilters cotton pinned behind the long tear, showing how she wanted it. "Why don't you just hand-sew it?" I asked her. She laughed.

I finally had some time today, so I took a closer look at the pants. I hadn't given it much thought when she gave them to me, but when I looked at them, I realized they would have to be sewn sideways because of the position of the tear. Erm, that's not how sewing machines work... then I remembered the stippling foot. I decided what I would do was sew several rounds around the tear in a sort of scribbled stitch (good lord, that sounded like I was possessed by Seuss there for a moment).

First, I unpinned the layers and ironed everything. Then I replaced the four layers of cotton behind the tear and hand-based. I decided to sew a bit outside of the tear; there wasn't much denim actually missing from the tear, but it seemed like she wanted the skulls to show, so I left it open so she could either trim it out, or just leave it free to fray like crazy (up to the machine stitching).

Then I slid the leg onto the machine and traced around the basting, bunches of times, following the basic shape of the tear. I could have gone really crazy, using a more contrasting thread, and stitching a lot more, and scribblieringly, but at this point, she has no idea what I'm doing to mend them, so I didn't want to go overboard. Looking at the jeans now, if they were mine, I'd definitely have done more. We'll see how she reacts. (No, wait, why am I even saying that? I'll give them to her and never see them again.) After a few rounds of stitching, I trimmed the extra skull fabric from the inside.

These are clearly well-loved/-worn jeans, as there are a couple more (less scandalously-placed) holes and some threadbare spots. Since I was at it, I took a chunk from what had been trimmed off and made a small patch for the other side, scribble-stitching that from the top side. Trimmed the edges and pulled a few threads so it'll ravel nicely, too. Cute, right?

Oh dear. Why do I have a feeling a bunch more holey jeans are going to wind up dropped off at my desk?

Okay, I admit. After I made this post and looked at the pictures, I decided to do more, longer, looser scribbles to soften the whole shape. Why do something if I'm not going to do it all the way?

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