How To: Using my PFAFF coverlock™ 4.0 to Sew Lingerie
Ask a car enthusiast what his or her dream make/model is, and they may say Porsche 911, Suburu’s WRX STI or some other fancy-schmancy, super fast car. Ask a sewist what his/her dream machine is, and they may say a coverstitch machine. For a long time, that was my answer. Coverstitch machines are used in the industry on everything from t-shirts to sportswear and lingerie, but the options for home sewists are scarce. Very scarce. So, you bet your butt that I was super excited that as part of my sponsorship with PFAFF, Madalynne Studios would have a coverlock™ 4.0 coverstitch and overlock machines for students and myself to use. I’ll admit, the machine was a little intimidating at first. Like an iPhone however, it was intuitive to figure out. So far, the machine has not only precise, but just so.damn.fun to sew. So today, I’m updated my original review of this sexy beast to include how I’ve been using it most often – to attach the elastic at the underbust of the Madalynne X Simplicity 8711.
The coverlock™ 4.0 is the top machine in PFAFF’s overlock line. It offers 5, 4, 3, 2 thread sewing and has an LCD touch screen that unlike some others, is really easy to use. All you have to do is select a stitch and all the important information like optimal thread tension, stitch length and differential feed are automatically set and displayed on the screen. I have found this very helpful – I don’t have to refer to the manual. Something really neat about the coverlock™ 4.0 is that is automatically sets tension based on the stitch. There’s also an Info System and Recommendations options which pop up to give more information about each stitch. It’s an all in one/combo machine (as opposed to a standalone), so it has an overlock and a cover stitch options.
Available Stitches + Definitions:
For the most part, I’ll be using the coverstitch, but the machine has several (25) more stitches. What are they and what do they do? Well, I’m so glad you asked ;)
Coverstitch – For hems on stretch fabrics and decorative stitching; perfect for finishing all kind of knitwear.
Chainstitch – Works well as a basting stitch as it easily unravels.
5-thread overlock (wide and narrow)– Combines two stitches – a straight stitch and an overlock – for a durable and reliable seams.
4-thread overlock– For all seams where stretch or give is needed, such as necklines, sleeve and side seams. Also serves to finish seam allowances.
3-thread overlock (wide and narrow) – For sewing two layers of stretch fabric or overcasting a single layer of light to medium fabric.
2-thread overlock– To sew a rolled edge, an overlock, a wrapped overlock and a narrow edge.
Flatlock – For sewing two pieces of fabric together (using an overlock) and then pulling apart slightly to achieve a flat stitch which connects the two pieces. On one side it looks like a flattened overlock stitch, on the other side it looks like a ladder.
Knife blade (for the movable upper cutter)
Thread unreeling discs (5)
Thread spool nets (5)
Tweezers (placed on the inside of the front cover)
Coverstitch table B (for Cover/chainstitch)
Cone holders (5)
Stylus (placed on the inside of the front cover)
Extension table including four legs and push pin
Sewing lingerie the coverlock™ 4.0:
I’ve mostly used the machine to sew a coverstitch. The machine comes set up for an overlock, and switching from this to the cover stitch isn’t hard. Once the machine set up, it’s a breeze from there.
To sew the elastic at the underbust of the Madalynne X Simplicity 8711, I use stitch #23, Coverstitch wide. This stitch has two rows of straight stitches on top that are about the width of the elastic and one looper on the bottom. The instructions for the 8711 say to apply this elastic using a 1 or 3 step zig zag stitch. What I like most about using a coverstitch versus a zig zag is that it finishes the seam allowances on the inside. Even though fabrics I use don’t fray and technically I don’t need to be finished on the inside, it does give a more professional finish. Also something to note – I use a woolly nylon thread for the looper. Woolly nylon, say what? As the name suggests, woolly nylon is made from nylon fibers, which results in a thread that stretches and recovers, provides more coverage and has a softer touch. It looks “fuzzy” compared to other thread. Woolly nylon is more expensive, a bitch to thread unless you “tie off” and pull it through the needles, but is worth it in my opinion. I do have to adjust the tension of the top two needles to 8.0 when sewing the wide coverstitch – just FYI. The black thread was visible on the inside, but it was very minor – I was okay with it. My favorite brands and places to buy are below:
Another neat thing about the coverlock™ 4.0 is the tension release, which makes pulling the threads when you’re finished sewing easy. I’ve sewn on some cover stitch machines where I’ve felt like I was yanking on the threads so hard that I was bending the needles. No bueno.
If you’re going to pay a pretty penny for this machine, I highly recommend investing in the Coverstitch Feet Kit. Por que? Because one of the first things I did was change the standard presser foot to the clear cover stitch foot so I could see what I was sewing underneath. It’s the little things in sewing that matter. The other feet included in the kit – the flat trim foot, the join and fold edging foot and the piping and cording foot – have so much potential when it comes to sewing lingerie.
Such a great machine! If you’re looking for a coverstitch + overlock machine that has everything, literally everything, this is it. I’m still learning new features and applications, but have been very impressed and happy with the way it elevates my lingerie sewing.