Thursday, February 14, 2013

Loving the Bernina Dual Feed for Pattern Matching!

Eleria fabric by Robert Allen, Graphite colorway, 24" repeat
I have a very full schedule today, but I had to share this.  When I set my heart on the Bernina 750QE sewing machine, I was aware that the 7 Series machines had a Dual Feed feature, but I thought it was just a silly gimmick, to be honest.  It wasn't a major selling point for me.  However, Bernina recommends engaging this little dual feed footsie for precise matching of plaids and stripes, or for "taming hard-to-manage fabrics." 

Yesterday I had to seam several widths of a Robert Allen drapery weight linen fabric with a weave just open enough to make it shifty and cantankerous and a large scale, high contrast pattern that would be very obvious and unattractive if it did not match carefully at the seams.  I decided this was a good opportunity to test drive the Dual Feed footsie.

Bernina introduced the Dual Feed feature on the 8 Series line and incorporated it into the new 7 Series machines as well.  It's an extra little "footsie" that comes down just behind your presser foot, like a little baby upper feed dog that tugs the top layer of fabric along each time the bottom feed dogs tug at the bottom layer of fabric, to help the layers feed evenly and to prevent shifting and misalignment of seams.  The Dual Feed only works with special "D" feet that have a groove cut out at the back to accommodate the Dual Feed footsie. 

Now, I should say that, if the seam in this fabric was destined to be in a visible location on the finished window treatment, like if it was a seam on the front of a flat cornice or a flat Roman shade, I would have carefully matched the pattern EXACTLY from the right side and hand-basted this seam before machine stitching it to ensure that it was as close to perfect as is humanly possible.  However, this seam has been plannned to fall inside of a box pleat, so it won't be directly visible -- it just needs to be a close enough match so that the pattern looks balanced from a distance when your eye sweeps from one width of fabric to the next.

So I used the eye of the brown birdie as a reference point, measured from the selvage on both sides of the fabric, and discovered that the pattern match occured 1 1/2" in on this particular fabric.  If this had been a solid fabric, I would have trimmed the selvages prior to stitching the seam, but again -- this linen weave was open and shifty enough that I wanted to keep that edge stable, and I woud be stitching far enough from the selvages that I wasn't concerned about puckering.  After sewing and opening out the seam to verify accuracy of the pattern match, I trimmed the selvages away with my pinking shears.

"Blind" Pattern Match with Dual Feed Function Engaged
I call this a "blind" pattern match, since I just matched up the pattern and pinned carefully at the cutting table, and then sewed the seam without basting it first from the right side.  I attached the metal seam guide bar to my presser foot at exactly 1 1/2" from the needle, put on my 1D presser foot, pulled down the Dual Feed footsie, and sewed this seam fairly quickly, only slowing down when I came to pins so I could remove them.  I am DELIGHTED with how well the pattern matches on this seam.  This is good enough for a drapery panel, in my opinion, let alone for a seam that is going to be hiding away in a valance box pleat where no one can appreciate it.  I almost want to put the seam smack dab in the MIDDLE of the window treatment and decorate it with beads or something, to make sure everyone notices how beautifully the pattern was matched!  ;-) 

Seriously, this is going to eliminate hand-basting in many of my projects where pattern matching is crucial.  I also felt that the dual feed gave my machine a little more muscle to pull the large, heavy fabric pieces through as they stitched.  Compared to my old sewing machine, I felt like the 750QE was doing a lot more of the work of handling the weight of that fabric bulk and I was just guiding it through the machine.  It also seemed to me that the dual feed was helping me get a straighter straight stitch on this 9 mm machine, more like that of a 5 mm or smaller sewing machine.

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE my new sewing machine?
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!


Jenny K. Lyon said...

It's your fault if I end up buying a new machine...

Ivory Spring said...

I have heard great things on the Series 7! Thanks for the affirmation.