Working with flimsy fabric and the Seam/Overcast Stitch

You can sew with the embroidery unit attached to the sewing machine.

So? Are you impressed yet? I just love the fact that yesterday’s project came from the working with the news-feed on the Husqvarna Viking Designer Brilliance 80. The WiFi connectivity has so many possibilities. I’m loving it!!

Today, I’m using non-quilting cotton to make gift bags, something we’ll need in a couple of weeks…

Let’s get started.

Husqvarna Viking Designer Brilliance 80 with optional extension table

A while back, I lost my mind and asked people to donate scraps so I could stuff some cat beds with the scraps. I received many bags of scraps and lots of other things as well. Don’t worry – I soon stopped that inflow to my house. I’ve had this green garbage bag sitting in the studio for months waiting for me to go through it and deal with all the textile stuff inside.

I finally did and I found a couple of treasures. One of which I’ll share with you today.

I’m not sure what the fabric was originally intended for. It does resemble a tablecloth or it could have been curtains? As a quilter, I don’t normally deal with anything that isn’t 100% cotton so I’m guessing at what it is and oh look – it moves a LOT.

And there’s a definite right and wrong side. Oh – let’s just experiment and see how the Designer Brilliance 80 handles this challenging fabric.

A non-quilting fabric to experiment with – notice the right and wrong side

At first, I had no clue what to do with this piece of fabric. After some thought, I realized that I could cut it in four equal pieces and make some gift bags. I might even experiment with embroidering on this crazy fabric.

So I cut the piece into four equal parts. Each one was about 12″ x 31″.

As you can see, each side is quite different and I didn’t think that adding an embroidery design to the “right” side was going to work. I thought about adding color with some thread painting or yarn couching, but I had my heart set on embroidery.

The original piece was cut into four sections each measuring approximately 12″ x 31″

The bags will have a ribbon or cord at the top to secure the bag. I dug through my big tub of cord/ribbon supplies and found something that I thought would work.

I often just make stuff up as I go along. No plans – but that’s the fun part. When you have a sewing/embroidery machine that’ll do just about anything – well, the sky is the limit. This way is more creative as well and I’m all for being creative.

Cording/ribbon for the top of the gift bag

My big tub of odds and ends. Someday, I’ll find a use for the neon orange fringe!

A well-stocked tub of embellishing supplies

I decided to use the Edging Foot J in conjunction with the Seam/Overcast stitch that’s found in the A Menu of Utility stitches. The Edging Foot J is one of the presser feet included with the Designer Brilliance 80.

But first, I got an error message about the Stitch Width Safety. Once the Straight Stitch Plate had been swapped for the General purpose stitch plate and the Stitch Width Safety was turned off, I was able to get open up the Seam/Overcast stitch.

I love this pop-up safety message. You know how it is – we’re in a hurry, we don’t think and I would have started to stitch without changing that stitch plate. And I would have broken the needle! There are NO broken needles as you’re reminded all the time if you try to do something you shouldn’t!

Pop up message regarding the Stitch Width Safety

Here’s a picture of the Seam/Overcast stitch as it appears on the multi-touch screen.

Now I have a confession to make. I’m a quilter. I’m not in the habit of sewing flimsy fabric and I don’t often (read never!) have to finish the edge of quilting cotton.

However, this flimsy fabric frays a bit and I wanted to keep the edges nice and neat.

For years, I thought that the Seam/Overcast stitch in the Utility Stitch menu was a form of blanket stitch for applique. Remember that I’m a quilter and I tend to see things as a quilter would see them. A while back, I did learn that this stitch is, in fact, a seam/overcast stitch, NOT an applique stitch. Guess how I learned? I read the manual!

Well, I had something else to learn about this stitch. When quilters do applique, we always have that long straight part of the stitch on the outside edge of our work – right? Can you see where this is going?

The Seam/Overcast stitch as it appears on the multi-touch screen

By using the Mirror Side to Side button, it was easy to mirror the stitch from side to side, thus allowing me to have the straight edge along the outer part of my work. I did question at the time why I should have to mirror the stitch, but I moved along with the knowledge I had.

The Seam/Overcast stitch is mirrored from the original setting

I should mention that I do NOT have to remove the embroidery unit in order to sew. I wouldn’t sew something big as I wouldn’t want to damage the embroidery arm, but small things like my gift bags – no problem.

You can sew with the embroidery unit attached to the sewing machine.

Now back to my saga.

I folded the long fabric strip in half with the fold forming the bottom of the bag. Then I used the Edging Foot J to Seam/Overcast the side seams. Except that I did it backward! Oh so help me – there are days!

I realized after I had stitched the sides and looked at the right side that the seam wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I wasn’t supposed to MIRROR the stitch. The pointy edges are supposed to point to the outer edge of the fabric.

In my defense, I’d like to say that I learned something today.  I had a good chuckle over the situation and I’m sharing it with you because we need to know how to position the stitches correctly. The stitch would have worked the other way, it was just that the finished look of the seam on the outside of the bag wasn’t a nice solid line of stitching.

I do have to say that the Edging Foot J is very cleverly designed with a small pin that prevents that wide overcast stitch from pulling in at the edge. I see a wee bit more experimentation in my future for this stitch.

Using the Edging Foot J to seam and overcast the seam at the same time

And here’s my nice BACKWARD seam/overcast stitch! The Designer Brilliance 80 did a beautiful stitch although you can barely see it on the piece below.

A backward seam/overcast stitch

Even using the seam/overcast stitch on a single layer of fabric around the top of the bag worked very well. Yes – I was still using the stitch backward at this point.

The Seam/Overcast stitch around the outer edge of the bag

I did go back and run a straight stitch down the inside of the side seams to give a nice clean seam finish on the right side.

I tell you this story because we’re all learning and the only way to learn is to make mistakes. It’s OK to make mistakes. We just have to laugh, learn and move on and hopefully never make the same mistake again.

It just shows how we get “set” in our ways and we can’t see/think outside the box! I’m so used to having that long edge run along the outer edge when I do applique!

The bottom line – if something doesn’t look right the first time, it’s OK to experiment.

I originally wanted to have a drawstring around the top of the gift bag, but that fabric is loosely woven and it presented a bit of a challenge when I went to insert the ribbon into the channel I had created around the top.

Hm – let’s revamp the plan. I decided that the original gold colored ribbon wasn’t going to do anything against the gold fabric so I attached a bright and cheery red ribbon (to one side seam of the bag. It’s easy to gather up the top of the bag and tie the ribbon. Making the tie this way is a LOT easier and much faster than doing the drawstring!

But now I have two very elegant gift bags that’ll look nice under the tree this year. I recycled some flimsy fabric that was going to be thrown out and I learned something new. That means it was a good day!

Two elegant gift bags tied with bright red ribbon

I still want to do some embroidery, but I ran out of time for this post. Be sure to come back tomorrow when I do some more embroidery with the Husqvarna Viking Designer Brilliance 80. I’m planning to make something else out of the remaining two pieces of that gold fabric.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: How to make an embroidered mug rug using mySewnet news-feed

Related posts

How to personalize Christmas stockings using machine embroidery

What to know about couching work on the Designer Brilliance 80

Designer Brilliance 80 Word Sculpt: getting really creative now is easy!


Laura S December 1, 2018 - 10:18 am
That neon orange fringe reminds me of some neon green fringe that I used on a child's Halloween costume one year. (She was a "My Little Pony") I love that you started out with no real plan and just let the materials take you along for the ride!
Debra Campbell November 30, 2018 - 12:15 pm
Great tips even if you don't have this sewing machine.
DanaLou Paxton November 29, 2018 - 7:09 pm
I don’t have an embroidery machine, but I do have an overcast foot/setting on my new machine. I have never used it, do thanks for sharing your experiences. I approach impromptu pieces the same way you do.
Carolyn Montgomery November 29, 2018 - 11:57 am
how can you not love a machine that keeps you from making the wrong choice when changing stitches?
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