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How did people make clothing on straight stitch only machines?

How did people make clothing on straight stitch only machines?

Old 04-10-2023, 03:16 PM
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Default How did people make clothing on straight stitch only machines?

Excuse my ignorance but decades ago how did people make clothing on these antique (singer 99 as an example) machines? Can you actually sew clothing with just a straight stitch since it wouldn't have much give? Thank you for any information!
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Old 04-10-2023, 03:39 PM
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I made clothes for years on a straight stitch only machine. The clothes were fine!
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Old 04-10-2023, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ElaineCovid View Post
I made clothes for years on a straight stitch only machine. The clothes were fine!
Really? That's great!! Why do you think some people always say you need a serger or zigzag stitch?
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Old 04-10-2023, 03:44 PM
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I'm not sure what the stitch has to do with ease in clothing items... Thread is thread and will not stretch unless you use specialty threads that are designed to stretch. It doesn't matter if you use a straight stitch, a zigzag, or a cover stitch.

The give in clothing comes from "ease". This is achieved mostly with curved piecing, but can also come from stretchy fabrics. If you have one piece of fabric that is supposed to be sewn to another piece of fabric, but it's bigger, you have to "ease in" the excess fabric. This creates give in the finished garment.

I've made many, many items of clothing on my Brother 1500, which is not an antique.
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Old 04-10-2023, 03:44 PM
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Seam allowances on woven fabrics will ravel if there's not some special finish on them: zig-zag, overcasting by hand, covered fabric edges as in welt seams, etc. It was a lot more work and time. A serger gives a wonderful finish, quick, easy and durable.
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Old 04-10-2023, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by melissam707 View Post
Really? That's great!! Why do you think some people always say you need a serger or zigzag stitch?
Serging and zigzag stitching help with raw, fraying edges of fabric. You end up with a more finished-looking product. However, you can accomplish the same thing with a straight stitch machine by using a French seam. First, you sew the seam with wrong sides together, so the seam is on the outside of the garment as you're wearing it. Then, you put the fabric right sides together and stitch the seam again, so the raw edges are enclosed and on the inside of the garment.
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Old 04-10-2023, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by melissam707 View Post
Excuse my ignorance but decades ago how did people make clothing on these antique (singer 99 as an example) machines? Can you actually sew clothing with just a straight stitch since it wouldn't have much give? Thank you for any information!
Having many years of experience of making my family's clothes as well as clothes for me. As long as you are using cotton or denim or a regular woven fabric, a straight stitch machine is wonderful. And you really don't want any "give" in the seam the give is designed into the pattern of the item sewn. It's only when using the newer stretchy or knits fabrics that you need any fancy type of stitch, that would allow the seam to stretch with the fabric without the thread breaking or a over-lock to prevent fraying.

I love all my straight stitch machines, I have 8 but I do have 2 that can do any type of patterns or zigzag and only use them when I need a patterned stitch.
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Old 04-10-2023, 04:29 PM
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When I was growing up, with 3 siblings, my mother made all our clothes. I remember a few things in particular. I have a skirt, but can't find it, that she made. I do have some doll clothes that she made that I can find. It almost looks like she may have pinked the seam allowance on one dress. I know she would not have taken the time to actually finished the seam in any way. It was all done on straight stitch machine. She also made my sister's wedding gown and some of the attendants as well. I also made some clothes for my kids, but doubt I finished many seam A few I may have. I have also made t-shirts with just a straight stitch. For most patterns that I have made, they have a 5/8" seam allowance, so if it does fray a bit, it is no big deal. For Barbie doll clothes, one definitely needs a straight stitch only machine.

Back when these machines were made there was not a lot of stretchy fabrics like there are now. While a serger or extremely narrow zigzag helps with some knits, there are lots that can be and are done with a straight stitch.

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Old 04-10-2023, 04:31 PM
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Because that was the only type of sewing machine there was, once upon a time!
In Home Ec where I learned to make clothing, that was the only type of machine we had. The straight stitch black Singers.

Last edited by quiltsfor; 04-10-2023 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 04-10-2023, 05:58 PM
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My mother sewed all my clothes on a 301a. For years. Like until I graduated from high school. It's not really that hard. You just do things differently. My mother used to overcast the seam allowances by hand to keep them from fraying. People were creative about getting things done then.
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