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Pin Tucks

Ocrafty1 | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

I loved the effect of the ‘pin tucks’ on the blouse in the recent issue of Threads, but I’m confused. When I make ‘pin tucks’ I’ve done it the old fashioned way…painstaking measuring, pulling threads, sewing a very tiny seam along the fold, then repeating the process, etc. The ‘pin tucks’ shown in the magazine were very different.  I have an old Kenmore that doesn’t have a pin tuck foot…only the 4 feet that came with it: zipper (works for invisible as well as regular), zigzag, straight, and applique.  I’ve used a double needle for hemming knits, etc. but this looks very different and I certainly didn’t get the effect that was shown in the magazine.  Can anyone clarify?




  1. starzoe | | #1

    The double needle makes a beautiful pintuck, the solution is in knowing which width to use. There are many ways to use the different widths.

    Edited 11/25/2008 12:16 am ET by starzoe

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #3

      OK, I'm dense.  I don't understand how it works.  When I sew with a double needle, it just makes 2 rows of stitches with a connected stitch on the back.  It doesn't resemble pin tucks at all; nothing is raised or textured.  What am I doing wrong? 

      1. meg | | #4

        I think you need to fiddle with the tension so that the bobbin thread is tighter. The bobbin thread will need to draw together a bit, which forms the tuck. Maybe you start with loosening the top thread a bit; do lots of samples to get the effect you want! And have fun, too!

      2. starzoe | | #8

        Maryincolorado in her message has answered your question. This will open up a whole new sewing area for you, have fun with it.

  2. Betakin | | #2

    I haven't seen the recent issue but maybe a serger was used to do the pintucks. Sergers can do them very quickly and easily. Just remove the left needle and use the right needle and if your serger has a blindhem foot you can use it as a guide and disengage the upper blade. I like to use a very narrow stitch. Fold the fabric where you want the tucks to be with the wrong sides together..and serge.

    Edited 11/25/2008 3:21 am ET by Betakin

    1. MaryinColorado | | #5

      I use a rolled hem setting on the serger for tiny narrow pintucks for an heirloom look.

      For the folded over pintucks, I prefer the old fashioned method of measuring, marking, and folding, pressing, and single stitching the fabric before cutting out a pattern.

      For twin needle pintucks, I just draw the lines, use wichever pintuck foot has the size tucks I want, adjust the tension (tighter needle tension smaller number), adjust the stitch length (longer/higher number usually).  With very delicate fabric, I use heirloom sewing paper from a sewing machine store.  (It looks like a cross between adding machine tape and tissue paper but tears away easier.) 

      I like to use mercerized cotton thread for an heirloom look, or 40 wt. embroidery thread for a shinier look depending on the fabric and pattern.  The thread must work well with the fabric or it will pucker.  (polyester for polyester fabric, etc.)  Same thread in bobbin and needles (loopers and needle if serging).  Smallest appropriate for fabric needle is important too!

      If you want narrow pintucks to stand up more, use cording under the stitches.  I have a special foot with a groove underneath for the cord to glide through.  For a fancy look, you can put ribbon under the wider tucks for a splash of subtle color. 

      There is a "search box" at the top right of this page, type in "pintucks" there are several techniques and instructipns.  Hope this helps.   Mary

      Edited 11/25/2008 10:27 am by MaryinColorado

      1. damascusannie | | #6

        And I like the old tucking attachement for my sewing machines. You can set it for width of the tuck and distance between them and it marks the fold line of the next tuck as you sew the current one. Pretty nifty tool and I hear they are making them again.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #7

          Wow, that sounds like a super great attatchment to have.  It would certainly make pintucking go smoothly and quickly.  I haven't seen it for my machine yet, but will keep an eye out for it.  Thanks for sharing, you always have such great information.

          I learned a great deal about sewing by learning Heirloom techniques.  I don't do much of that style anymore, but still find so many of the techniques helpful in day to day sewing.  There are so many ways to expand on them to create texture or embellishments too and in quilting. 

          1. damascusannie | | #9

            The old machines came with a plethora of attachments: rufflers, tuckers, hemmers and binders were standard issue. When you consider the details on antique dresses, you can see that such things were a necessity.

          2. MaryinColorado | | #10

             Now I feel driven to go see if they have a pintuck foot like you described.  I could live without it, if it's too expensive.  I am intrigued though. 

            I have boxes of attatchments and feet that work on either of my sewing machines. For my serger, I have two boxes of feet.  Instead of having a fabric addiction, I have a foot fetish and thread addiction.  It all started with Sew Beautiful magazine and Martha Pullen's tv show on PBS, then I bought things from her website, like Heirloom Serging for Babies by Cathy McMakin.  I had so much fun with it. 

            Then I read about Kayla Kennington and fell in love with her techniques of fiber collage and artisitc wearables and bought most of her patterns.  They are great fun.

            Then it was Bonnie McCaffery and her DiggiBobbe and freemotion bobbinwork so I bought another bobbin case that I adjust for heavy threads.

            This year I've been learning about quilting full sized quilts and have made three and one is in the works.  I hope to make one for each member of my immediate family.  We'll see how far I get...

            I would love to be able to make quilts like EllenAnneEddy.  I bought her book a few years ago but haven't done much in that direction yet.  I figured I should learn the basics first.  I went to a quilt museum and saw her work this year.  She inspires me because I love fantasy. 

            I like making faery dolls too and would like to make a dimensional quilted wall hanging with castles, dragons, faeries, etc.

            I love learning new techniques and becoming totally absorbed in it. 

            I also have to learn my new software so I can digitize my own designs some day.  Then there's fitting this 50 something body some alien left in place of the one I used to have, ha ha.  That's really a big challenge because it's more left brained and that side is stubborn and lazy and self defeating.  Even though I know it will increase my creativity, it feels too much like work and self discipline.  I just want to "play".  Especially when there's immediate gratification.  Mary


          3. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #11

            Oh Maryincolorado, there is a pattern or two for castles and dragons on blockcentral.com.  I've printed those patterns years ago.  I'll go and ... I just tried to go on that site, and they are under "scheduled maintenance" and you can't access it now, but I'm sure it will probably be up tomorrow.  If not, I will look for my copies and scan them into my computer.  I need to learn how to do that anyway.  I'm getting so computer savvy here at home.  giggle.

          4. MaryinColorado | | #12

            Oh thank you, that would be great!  I am not sure how to go about it so they look like a dream scene rather than just some appliques and embroderies stuck on fabric.  I've always liked the landscape quilts at shows.  

            I have some fabric pieces that I've been collecting with the idea of a forest glen with a few faeries, bunnies, dragonflies, and such too.  So there are two quilts that have been floating around in my imagination for years.  It would be fun to start one of them after the 1st of the year.

          5. damascusannie | | #13

            It's not really foot--it's a fairly large attachment. Here's a picture and some instructions about how they are used: http://thesewbox.com/f/Tuckmarker.pdf

          6. MaryinColorado | | #14

            Thanks, it's very clearly written.  What an interesting invention/attatchment. 

  3. Josefly | | #15

    Along with the suggestions MaryinColorado gave about sewing with a twin needle to create "pin tucks", I think it's important to remember that not all fabrics give the same results. This type of pin tuck shows up better on lightweight fabrics. They aren't really tucks at all, but give the effect of one. The bobbin thread zig-zags between the two lines of stitches, and if your tension is adjusted properly, the bobbin thread will pull the two lines together, giving a raised effect. Try loosening your upper tension. I think the article suggests that lightweight linen - almost handkerchief weight - is the best fabric for this technique. I've done tucks on batiste with success. I've achieved the best pin tuck results using two single needles side by side in my sewing machine, an old Singer zig-zag which allows two needles to be inserted like that. So these needles are closer than the twin needles I've seen. The reason the pin tuck presser foot is important is that it allows the tuck to travel under the back of the presser foot without pressing it flat, so it keeps its raised look. You can sometimes use a satin-stitch foot, which has a hollow space on the bottom of the foot, which allows the satin-stitched fabric to move freely under the foot, and therefore, doesn't press down the pin tuck so much, either. Different pin tuck feet have different numbers of grooves on the bottom, so you can sew the pin tucks quite close together, and still avoid pressing out the "tuck".It's fun to use a sheer or semi-sheer fabric and a darker-colored thread in the bobbin to get a "shadow" effect. Mary's suggestion of using the perle cotton or thin cord under your fabric, between the twin needles, is a good one, and that thread can also be of a different color from your fabric, to give a different effect. It's fun to play around with this. The cord helps even more to raise the fabric between the twin stitching, and for fabrics that you're likely to press a lot, the cord will hold the shape of the tuck better.Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. MaryinColorado | | #16

      Very well said, you are very good at explaining this.  The fabric stores tend to sell only the basic needle sizes.  I often have to get my specialty needles at shops that sell sewing machines.  I just looked in my box, the double needles I have are from 2.0 to 8.0 space between the needles.  I've never used the 8.0, can't even remember why I bought it now. 

      One of the features I like on my machine is that I can set a "safety" for double needles so I don't hit the plate. 

      1. Josefly | | #17

        Thank you for your kind words - I think you do an excellent job describing techniques, and you are way more knowledgeable than I. That safety feature is one I would love to have. My old machine can't take the wider-set twin needles, not can it do the wide zig-zag that modern machines can, more reasons I keep considering a new machine. I'm presently away from home, so I can't check the distance between my double-needle stitching, but 2.0 sounds like the same distance, if that refers to 2 mm.Stitch on! Are you doing any sewing today? I'm still recovering from yesterday, cooking in my mil's unfamiliar kitchen (she's completely unable to do any cooking). I hate to admit it, but I'm tired!

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