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  1. #1
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    Questions on working with ROBIC and other lightweight fabrics.

    So I just made my first hammock, out of ROBIC XL. It is comfy! And oh-so-light! However construction did not go as smoothly as it could have. I figured this first one would be a learning experience... time to learn a few things from some of you wise thread-injecting gurus.

    Questions numbered for convenience:

    1. I had a heckuva hard time getting the rolled hems right. The upper layers didn't want to stay lined up with the bottom layer, resulting in wrinkles and gaps after just a couple inches of sewing. On advice from this forum I bought a rolled hem guide (This one, off eBay) and that seemed to work OK, although it was maybe a bit too "thick" for the fabric. But I did not purchase the walking foot that had also been recommended. Would that have made the difference and allowed the layers to remain lined up while sewing? (I did try a couple variations of a "tab" of some sort to hold the fabric and pull it along behind the needle, which helped, but not completely. I also tried pre-folding and holding the fabric from the bottom, as it was fed toward the needle, and that helped some too. By the end I was wishing I had a third hand to hold the fabric straight out to the side, too.)

    2. Related to #1... I had an especially difficult time sewing to the edges of the fabric. Reversing to start or finish a seam made it pucker up about 50% of the time. It was hard to hold down the reverse button while also keeping hold of the slippery fabric and guiding it. Again, I'm wondering if a walking foot would have made reversing, in particular, go more smoothly...?

    3. I used a cutting wheel and a mat to cut my ROBIC. The edges very quickly started to unravel, despite careful handling. Should I have used some sort of hot knife or other melting-type cutter instead?

    4. RSBTR recommends a size 90/14 needle. I dutifully bought a pack and used a new one. But some recommendations for thin, lightweight, coated fabrics said to use a "microtex" (sharp) needle (Schmetz chart, for example)... should this be the case for ROBIC and other fabrics we like to use for hammock projects? I could actually hear a tiny "pop" as the needle went through the fabric, and worried I was damaging it.

    5. Related to #3... I wanted to rip and re-sew some of the uglier rolled seams, but I worried that I would be making extra holes the fabric couldn't support. Anyone had experience with re-sewing? Did the original holes disappear as the fibers rearranged themselves?

  2. #2
    FJRpilot's Avatar
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    So, my experience has been that I have to either pin the hem or use basting tape to create decent looking hems. I've also found that you need to adjust your top tension with lighter fabric to stop the puckering. Hope this helps...


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  3. #3
    New Member Holtgzy's Avatar
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    Rolled hems with thin, slippery fabric can be frustrating. What I have done is, fold over once, hem and then fold over a second time and hem again. Yes this results in twice the "hemming" but for me that is easier that wrestling a rolled hem. You can also pin the rolled hem prior to sewing, but this also can be tedious.
    As to sewing to the end of the fabric, I go very slow when I reach that point and hold the fabric as flat as possible before I reverse. I would also check the tension adjustment. I don't have experience with hem guides or walking feet.

    Some material frays quicker than others, so yes, a hot knife is the only way I know to prevent fraying. I typically make one or two big mistakes per project (heh heh), so I have lots of experience ripping out seams and resewing. Sometimes I think my seam ripper gets more use than my injector. I have never had a problem and depending of the fabric, yes the fibers will shift and settle so that the holes disappear. Just make sure that you have a large stitch (8-10 per inch.) Good luck!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tacblades's Avatar
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    I have not had any problem i just double roll, and use quilting clips to hold every 2 inches, then just sew and remove clips as i go.

    If you provide any different tension with your hands on the top layer bottom layer then you can get problems, light hands and support infront and behind as it goes under the foot.
    The lighter the touch the better.
    I also reduce the pressure of the foot at the top and reduce the height of the feed dogs.
    ..........................................
    Tacblades

  5. #5
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    I roll once and clip, roll again and reclip, then sew. I hating pinning as much as anyone, but it can help keep top and bottom layers in synch, even when done sparingly. I also use a walking foot and lighter thread tension. I use 90/14 microtex.

    However, I am not a well versed thread injectionist.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJRpilot View Post
    So, my experience has been that I have to either pin the hem or use basting tape to create decent looking hems. I've also found that you need to adjust your top tension with lighter fabric to stop the puckering. Hope this helps...
    Heh, was hoping to avoid pinning! That's what I get. I did pin the end channels (for a continuous loop to go through), and that helped somewhat, though the fabric layers still wanted to migrate around. Seemed easier to keep straight simply because it was wider.

    Never tried basting tape... does it stay inside the hem? I did a Knotty mod -- would basting tape inside interfere with that? (for instance by sticking to the shock cord when you tried to feed it through, or making the space inside too tight)

    Quote Originally Posted by Holtgzy View Post
    Rolled hems with thin, slippery fabric can be frustrating. What I have done is, fold over once, hem and then fold over a second time and hem again. Yes this results in twice the "hemming" but for me that is easier that wrestling a rolled hem.
    Huh... I think I saw that method somewhere on YouTube. I didn't want to do the extra step but that would have certainly made the finished product nicer, and would have been easier in the long run, most likely.

    Some material frays quicker than others, so yes, a hot knife is the only way I know to prevent fraying. I typically make one or two big mistakes per project (heh heh), so I have lots of experience ripping out seams and resewing. Sometimes I think my seam ripper gets more use than my injector. I have never had a problem and depending of the fabric, yes the fibers will shift and settle so that the holes disappear. Just make sure that you have a large stitch (8-10 per inch.) Good luck!
    Good to know on both counts. Guess I should have sprung for a hot knife instead of that nice cutting wheel... The current hammock doesn't seem bad enough to warrant ripping it all up and starting again, though it's tempting...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tacblades View Post
    I have not had any problem i just double roll, and use quilting clips to hold every 2 inches, then just sew and remove clips as i go.

    If you provide any different tension with your hands on the top layer bottom layer then you can get problems, light hands and support infront and behind as it goes under the foot.
    The lighter the touch the better.
    I also reduce the pressure of the foot at the top and reduce the height of the feed dogs.
    I have not tried quilting clips... that may be the ticket, easier to work with than pins perhaps.

    The tension I provided in front of and behind the needle seemed even, but I was getting frustrated and holding things tighter and tighter.

    "reduce the pressure of the foot at the top and reduce the height of the feed dogs" -- I did not know either was possible! Those both might be key factors, because it sure seemed like the foot was dragging on the upper layer (thus I wondered about a walking foot), while the feed dogs were too aggressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqidmark View Post
    I roll once and clip, roll again and reclip, then sew. I hating pinning as much as anyone, but it can help keep top and bottom layers in synch, even when done sparingly. I also use a walking foot and lighter thread tension. I use 90/14 microtex.

    However, I am not a well versed thread injectionist.
    How do you do the double roll with the clips? Are they small enough to fit inside the second roll? Apparently I need to go clip shopping...

    One vote for walking foot, and for a microtex needle. Think I'll try both. I did not mess with the thread tension, because the stitches themselves seemed even on both sides... but I could try that too, if other things don't completely do the trick.

    Good thing I have a bit of fabric left over... I'll perhaps try a peak bag or stuff sack with some improved techniques. Then depending on how it goes I might go so far as to rip up my hammock and start over. Or just buy more fabric!

  7. #7

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    Practice makes perfect...
    I started with pins, I do like using the clips. Be careful in your pinning... I was not so great at it when I started and that is a small part of the art in and of itself as a bad pin job can twist things too- as can dull pins.
    But at this point I can do a full hammock without a single pin and get perfectly flat seams.

    Robic XL is by far the easiest 1.0 or under fabric to work with in my opinion. (Sorry)
    The light pop sound is fairly normal- but a sharp(microtex) needle can help with that. What you're hearing is basically the fabric stretched tight over the throat of the machine and the needle popping it like a very tiny drum as the needle strikes then pops through.

    Needle size has more to do with thread size though than anything. I have used as small as an 7.
    But for Gutterman sew all- you need at least an 8. Mara 70 needs about a 10-12 and Tera 50 needs a 14 or 16.
    In slightly stiffer fabrics like a Robic (versus say HyperD 1.0 or Membrane 10) I go with the heavier needle.


    The tip that TacBlades mentioned probably has the most to do with your seams going squirrely on you...
    Assuming you have the fabric rolled smooth and evenly (IE not twisting as you roll it or pin it)
    Then it's how you personally feed the fabric that tends to cause the issues. It works best with these fabrics to grab the fabric just behind the foot (as it's coming out) and put a little tension on it with one hand, while pulling a little tension on the your side of the machine with your other hand. To help this- try spacing any clips you're using a little further apart so that you are not stopping quite so often. These fabrics are light enough that without a little help and tension keeping the seam straight as you sew; the feeddogs will pull the bottom layer through faster than the top layers and create the twist you are seeing.

    I started assuming you could just concentrate on getting the fabric to the machine and the machine would do the rest. On an industrial or old machine... maybe. But on a normal machine you need to keep tension on the seam to keep it smooth. How much depends on your machine and the fabric. But if you think of it more like a table saw it might make more sense. The machine wants to grab the fabric and rip it through... it's your job to keep the piece under control so that it passes through the business end of things smoothly. You still want to "let the blade do the work" but you want to hold the seam firm and balance your feed through the machine by moving both hands together as they put tension in either direction. What's happening is the fabric is literally crumpling up as it's being stitched- so your job is to keep the piece flat as it sews.

    I did not find the walking foot a big help on double rolled hems in 1.0 oz fabrics (though the pfaff machine is pretty good) mainly because the middle layer can still slip around.

    You are correct on the thread tension- if the seams are balanced you're good- but you may need to adjust tension when switching between a single, double, or triple (double rolled hem) thickness.
    Depending on your machine- foot pressure and feed dog height may need some adjustment too.

    The clips are just like minature clamps but they are flat on one side. So you just roll your seam and clip them on- you wouldn't clamp one roll at a time just the finished seam.

    If all else fails- you can also run an iron on low over the seam to help set it before you sew- but I find that unneeded for anything but a complex curve. (like a bridge hammock channel).

    But I'm 99% sure your issue is not putting tension on the fabric as I learned that lesson the hard way over many years.

    Yes you can rip Robic XL and Membrane 10 and resew. However those are not really self-healing fabrics (they do not close up or recover from needle holes.). If it's just the side seams of a hammock- those are not structural so just a cosmetic issue. If you are sewing a gathered channel on the ends and plan to hang on it- I'd advise against attempting to rip those.

    HyperD 1.6 and 1.0 are relatively good at self healing overall and working with HyperD 1.6 is fairly pleasant overall. 1.0 is tougher than the Robic 1.0.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBr00ks View Post
    ...How do you do the double roll with the clips? Are they small enough to fit inside the second roll? Apparently I need to go clip shopping...
    1. Clip the first roll (fold) with the clips upside down.
    2. Roll it over so the clips are now facing up.
    3. Clip the outside edge.
    4. Remove the first set of clips.
    5. Stitch away, no need for pins here unless all other options fail.


    The blue hyperd 1.0 is the subject matter here. Ignore the other project.
    hem-rolled-clips1.jpg hem-rolled-clips2.jpg hem-rolled-clips3.jpg hem-rolled-clips-4.jpg

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    Robic XL is by far the easiest 1.0 or under fabric to work with in my opinion. (Sorry)
    Well at least there is hope!

    The tip that TacBlades mentioned probably has the most to do with your seams going squirrely on you...
    Assuming you have the fabric rolled smooth and evenly (IE not twisting as you roll it or pin it)
    Then it's how you personally feed the fabric that tends to cause the issues. It works best with these fabrics to grab the fabric just behind the foot (as it's coming out) and put a little tension on it with one hand, while pulling a little tension on the your side of the machine with your other hand. To help this- try spacing any clips you're using a little further apart so that you are not stopping quite so often. These fabrics are light enough that without a little help and tension keeping the seam straight as you sew; the feeddogs will pull the bottom layer through faster than the top layers and create the twist you are seeing.
    See, that's what's particularly frustrating... I was doing just that, supporting and tensioning the fabric from both sides just as you describe. I also used a little tab made out of tape on the innermost corner, what became the inner part of the rolled hem, to help keep even tension on all the layers when starting the seam. None of that worked.

    If all else fails- you can also run an iron on low over the seam to help set it before you sew- but I find that unneeded for anything but a complex curve. (like a bridge hammock channel).
    Saw that pre-ironing advice somewhere online, but was afraid to melt the fabric!

    I'm beginning to suspect the feed dogs / foot pressure. That's an easy thing to try to adjust... hopefully I'll get to take a crack at it later this weekend.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqidmark View Post
    1. Clip the first roll (fold) with the clips upside down.
    2. Roll it over so the clips are now facing up.
    3. Clip the outside edge.
    4. Remove the first set of clips.
    5. Stitch away, no need for pins here unless all other options fail.


    The blue hyperd 1.0 is the subject matter here. Ignore the other project.
    Ah, thanks, that makes sense now. Visual learning!
    Did you have to make marks along the hem to get an even roll, or did you just eyeball it?

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