Thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post! I promise not to post only baby-related things from now on, but I’m sure there will be a burst of very cute tiny clothes soon!
My new machine should help me out with that too, especially since I’ll be using a lot of very soft knit fabrics. It’s a Bernina L220 cover stitch, and it’s a real beauty. A cover stitch machine that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out? Yes, thank you, I’ll take 3 dozen, please.
I’ve had this machine for a few months now. I am so happy with it! I have used many cover stitch machines over the years, and this is by far my favorite one I’ve come across. Like most cover stitch machines, there aren’t lots of bells and whistles to go along with it. It has a few simple functions which it does well each time I use it, and that makes me a happy camper.
This machine features 3 different needle positions, and can make a 4-thread cover stitch (uses all 3 needles), a wide 3-thread cover stitch, a narrow 3-thread cover stitch and a 2-thread chainstitch. It has easy-to-adjust tension knobs, a differential feed feature and is easy to thread.
With the threading, there is a unique sequence with the lower looper. I was overly confident when I brought the machine home and went ahead and pulled all of the loose threads out of it. It turns out that one section of the lower looper thread really stumped me! The manual illustrations and the diagram on the machine itself had a very odd way of telling you to thread a certain section, so I thought I’d help with that here.
When you reach this arm on the lower looper thread guides, the first thing you must do is pull your thread thru the small hook guide. Then, you will bring the thread back over this guide, and wrap it under the long finger on the machine.
You can then pull your thread under the finger and head for the next hook guide. The illustrations show a dotted line for this part, which wasn’t helpful.
I eventually got it though, and if you’d like to see a video of this, Bernina has a guide for threading this machine on Youtube.
Many cover stitch machines thread their loopers from the right side of the machine. The L220 threads from the left side. There is an easy looper auto-threader that pulls down so that you can thread the entire looper without struggling.
The biggest test for a coverstitch machine is to test it out in different weights and thickness of fabrics to see if it skips stitches. So far, I haven’t found a combination that causes trouble for this machine.
On my last cover stitch, the Brother 2340CV, this was a constant problem. While I was in the middle of stitching, the tension dials would slowly loosen and most of the time I wouldn’t catch it until I turned my work over and saw many places where the looper thread didn’t connect with the needles. It was really frustrating! Using all different types of thread, adjusting the tensions and foot pressure and trying different gauges and types of needles didn’t help either. There were many fists shaken and words spat at that machine!
I pushed this machine really hard around Christmas time. I made my dad a cardigan (out of the same pattern I use for myself) out of an extremely thick knit fleece. It was the kind of fabric that North Face would use on a heavier sweatshirt, and in a few places, this machine had to stitch over SIX layers of that fabric. I was reeeeeaaally nervous. The last thing I wanted to do was make my new machine angry! But nope, she handled it like the pro she is, and barely flinched. I was relieved, because my Brother could never make it over those areas when I sewed my own cardigans.
One awesome feature the helps with this is the presser foot. This foot is made out of three different spring-loaded sections, so it can ride up over bulky seams and not lose foot pressure. I really like to serge down my seam allowances using a cover stitch, so this foot helps ensure a beautiful stitch every time.
Plus, the fabric in that photo? That’s this machine only sewing on three layers. It can really handle a lot!
So, back to the skipped stitch test. Most coverstitch machines have a very hard time creating a flat, non-skipped stitch on a tissue weight knit. My last machine just couldn’t do it. I loosened the tensions a bit, sprayed some starch on the knit, and fed it into the machine. Would you look at that?
It’s the tiniest bit wavy because I didn’t have the edge pressed or pinned and I didn’t hold it flat very well. But I’m still pleased with it!
Here is the stitching on two layers of heavy cotton sweater knit:
And again on three layers of heavy cotton sweater knit:
The last example is where I folded the fabric over on itself and used the foot’s spring-loaded feature to sit half-on, half-off the fabric edge. Still a beautiful stitch! Sorry I didn’t use white thread. I should have switched it out for you!
I don’t have a photo of the chainstitching, but it does a really nice job of that (if you couldn’t have guessed). I most often use the chainstitch for basting together muslins. It’s much quicker to take apart than a basting stitch on a sewing machine.
This machine also has an interesting way of releasing the threads, which I may save for another post. Are any of you curious about the best way to end your cover stitching?
Do you have any questions about this machine?