Well that’s what I think. I’m a loyal patron of Heirloom Creations in Sioux Falls SD. One of the reasons they deserve my loyalty is their blog which this month posted instruction for using the Bernina and Viking flat felling feet. I was fascinated and had to watch both videos. Rather than trying to describe the process just let me link the two videos from Heirloom Creations Blog but pay special attention to the bonus instructions for ties:
With the Bernina foot:
With the Viking Foot:
Now as soon as I saw the Sarah stitching the ties I said “Belt Loops”. Yep right here in front of the computer all by my lonesome I said it out loud. Couldn’t wait to get to the monthly Sewtopia meeting and look for the Viking foot. And the first thing I did when I got home was to start working with the foot. OK, the first time I worked with the foot it wasn’t quite as easy as Sarah’s demonstration. But I turned out a decent flat felled seam from two rectangular scraps on the first try and decided to move along to the real subject of my interest the tie. Let me show my results first:
I’m using a woven stretch fabric for testing. I did that because it’s my favorite fabric to use for pants and I was anxious that the process work with stretch woven fabrics.
The narrowest tie (on the left) was created from a 1.25″ strip cut along the grain. In fact all strips were cut on grain, not cross grain or bias. I made the flat felled seam (not shown) and then immediately made the narrow tie. It took one pass through the foot. It was a little stretched out, so I pressed it immediately and that’s the final tie. It finished about 1/4″ wide.
The middle strip is made from a 1.75″ wide stripe and proves that you can stitch in the wrong place. I don’t know why but I realized that I was pulling the the fabric over to the left too far as it fed into the foot. I’m thinking too much control. Because after that I just watched the bottom fold and made sure it was lining up with the visible groove on the foot. 1.75″ is what I usually cut for belt loops which then finish to about 1/2″. My current process is to cut the 1.75″ strip, serge the raw edges together, turn the strip using my brass tube turners and give it a good pressing while trying to get the seam (now inside the tube) to lay on one side and not twist. Usually this is the biggest problem for me and I make twice the amount of tubing that I need so I can cut around the goofs. The last step is to stitch twice more; once on each edge of the tube. This produces a nice crisp edge but take a long time. Using the felling foot, the 1.75″ strips finishes about 3/8″ in a quarter of the time.
Now I’m nearly a plus sized woman. I’m better visually-balanced if I make things like belt loops a little wider. So for strip #3, the widest strip (on the right in the pic), I cut a 2″ strip on-grain. It is passed through the machine twice. Once to fold and stitch the left edge and then a second time to top stitch the other edge. I could have changed to the edge-stitching foot for the final stitching, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I also had better results of the last row of stitching by placing the strip under the foot and not through the guides. Of course, YMMV.
Finally, I did try to fold and stitch both sides of a 2″ strip using an 8.0 twin needle. If successful, it would have been 1 pass through the machine with the downside of a clearly distinguishable public and private side. I wasn’t successful. In fact that was the most frustrating and I spent more time trying to use the twin needle than all the time previously spent! I noticed my mounting frustration and said , heck I can make beautiful belt loops with two quick, easy passes through the machine. Why go to this bother? I may attempt it in the future. The 6.0 twin needle was not wide enough for the 2″ strip. The edge stitches would have been about 3/16 in from each side. I wanted edge stitching which the 8.0 would have given me. So I could try switching to the 1.75″ strip and a 6.0 twin needle. I also used a sharp needle with a stretch woven because I didn’t have a ball-point or universal 8.0 needle. So two more variables would be using non-stretch material or purchasing a different pointed needle.
Point is, right now I have found a new, quick and very easy way to stitch perfect belt loops. I’m happy with that.