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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Elasticator!

I have to admit that I get a bit of a thrill when I can make good use of some little tool or tip that is like a new discovery to me. This time it is the Elasticator! As close to a super hero as it gets up in my sewing room!

Does this sound familiar to any of you? You see a good idea for something you would like to make but it involves not only buying a new foot for your machine but also finding out if you can really make it work like the 'experts' make it work. We all know those feet don't come on the cheap, and some see destined to have no good purpose other than part of your oh-so-impressive display of unused sewing machine accessories? When you are considering the purchase, you are waffling back and forth in your head about whether this is really worth spending money on, just how important is this little hunk of metal, how much time do I really think I have to learn another sewing machine trick, etc., etc. I really had it kind of lucky with this particular foot, because it came with my Bernina 1100DA serger when I bought it about 10 years (or so) ago. That machine is no longer manufactured, but is pretty similar to this current model. I'm sure it was explained to me when I had my new owner's class but something about the elasticator didn't stick. Not too long ago, I thought I might try to figure out how to use it, but that led to a problem because I broke something on the machine when I tried to remove the standard foot and put on the elasticator. So after that got repaired, I was hesitant to ever try to change the foot again! But I was motivated by becoming a first-time grandma, and I am putting all of my sewing skills on the line to feather the nest for this little grandson. That brings me to making fitted crib sheets to match the nursery, of course! Making a casing and threading elastic all the way around the sheet(s) was something I was not real keen on, and this was the way I found to get around that.

I started out looking at a few patterns/directions/tutorials and gleaning the basics for my own ideal crib sheet using my serger and elasticator. One good resource is here. I bought 2 yards of fabric for each sheet and 3.25 yds of 1/4" elastic.

I have added my own ideas and here goes--

I used the standard mattress size to guide me (27" x 52" x 5 1/2") and adjusted the size of my starting rectangle of fabric according to the width of the fabric after it was washed and selvedge trimmed. For example, one piece was only 40 1/2" wide and the other was 42" wide. That measurement has to be the maximum size of the width of the sheet.

I am not allowing any fabric for the folded elastic casing nor french seams, so my numbers are a little different than the usual pattern directions. So if I add 27 + 5.5 + 5.5=38 and subtract that from 42, I know that there is going to be only 2" on each tuckunder side. Then to figure out the long measurement for the rectangle, I added 52 + 5.5 + 5.5 + 2 + 2 = 67". My rectangle is 42" x 67". I need to cut squares out of each corner, and in this case the square needs to be the height of the mattress (5.5") + the tuckunder allowance (2") minus 1/4" for seam allowance = 7.25".
Clear as mud?










This demonstrates that the square will be cut from each of the 4 corners of the rectangle of fabric. You can fold the rectangle in half twice, aligning the corners, and cut all 4 at once.

Next, place the right sides of the fabric together with the corner edges aligned to make a 'box corner'.










Serge a seam down 3 (not all 4) of the corners.
Then change to the elasticator foot, following the appropriate directions. Before you do anything on your sheet, do some practice runs with scraps. You will have to waste some elastic to do this, but that can't be helped. Play around with the adjustment screw to make the stretch more or less, according to what you like. I found that my best setting was kind of middle of the road, about halfway between all the way tight and all the way loose.

Start at the "open" corner, the one you did not sew shut in the previous step.












I found that if I ran the fabric edge even with the right side of the foot, it was positioned to trim just a bit as the elastic was attached and the edge was cut and serged.

Keep going all the way around the 4 edges, right across those corner seams when you come to them.
When you get back to the unsewn corner cut the elastic and threads and change back to the regular serger foot.


Lay the right sides together and serge up that last corner seam.

This is what the elasticized serged edge looks like on the right side--










I use this handy double-eyed needle to thread the long thread tails back through some of the stitches to secure it

and add a dab of Fray Check to hopefully prevent any loose thread ends.


Just a little dab 'l do ya'. Does that phrase ring a bell with you? If so, I know you just as mature as I am!
Voila! Fitted crib sheet!

Now all I need is that grandbaby!

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