Corded pintucks are a beautiful and subtle vintage detail that you can add to almost any lightweight garment! A thick thread (embroidery floss* here) is used in the bobbin to create a raised surface detail.
Already have a pair of tap pants sewn up, but looking for an extra detail to make them stand out? Adding pintucks to the yoke of your Nutmeg tap pants adds pizzaz and you’ll have tons of fun playing around with designs! The actual sewing is quite simple, but the set up takes a bit of research, a few essential tools, and practice. So, grab a green tea and let me give ya a little lesson…
Sewing pintucks is easy when you have the right pintuck foot. Choosing a pintuck foot depends on two things: the brand of your sewing machine and the desired width of the pintucks. Most machines require a specific presser foot designed for that brand, but there are also “one style fits all” pintuck attachments that can be found online. Luckily, a regular ol’ pintuck foot ranges from about $10 to $40 making it a very worthwhile investment that (hopefully) won’t break the bank!
Okay, the second thing you need to know is how to choose the right pintuck foot. Each pintuck foot has a series of grooves that determine the width of the tucks; the fewer grooves, the wider your tucks and vice versa. For this tutorial, we wanted narrow pintucks so we chose the Bernina Pintuck Foot #32 which has 7 grooves.
Next, you’ll need to a double (or twin) needle, and the width between the two needles must correspond with the width of the grooves. Twin needles are constructed with two needles attached to a single shaft that stitch a parallel line in a single pass. There are two numbers on a package of twin needles: one describes the size of the needle while the other number reveals the distance between the two needles in millimeters. We used a Schmetz Twin Needle 130/705 (needle size) 2.0/80 (width between the needles). To choose the twin needle for this tutorial, we brought the pintuck foot to the fabric store and tested different sizes to find the right fit. The twin needles should fit perfectly between two grooves on the foot. Read more about twin needles HERE.
To sew with a twin needle, you’ll also need to be able to use two spools of thread on the top of your machine. Check your machine manual to see how to set this up and properly thread it for use with a twin needle. We used a regular spool of hot pink thread and a bobbin wound with the same hot pink thread. Keep in mind that these threads will be showing on the right side of your garment.
Thread the needles with one thread in each eye. The photo below is a little blurry, but you can distinctly tell that there is only one thread per hole. (Click the image to enlarge)
The reason we call this tutorial a corded pintuck is because we incorporate embroidery floss* to give the tucks a raised appearance. The embroidery floss is wound by hand in an empty bobbin case, then inserted into the machine as usual.
Once everything is threaded, practice sewing a simple line on a scrap piece of fabric. It’s very, very important to keep the machine set to a straight stitch (unless your machine states otherwise) or else you’ll cause the needle to break (we speak from experience!!).
If everything is threaded correctly, the pintuck should look like this:
And the wrong side of your fabric should look like this (notice the teeny tiny zig zags keep the cord in place):
If it things aren’t threaded correctly, it may look lumpy like this:
And the wrong side of your fabric may look like this:
If it does look all wonky, no biggie! Just rethread the machine and try again.
If it looks a-okay, practice sewing some designs! This part is so fun! First, draw on a few simple designs with a fabric marker and then sew as you normally would. Here are a few ideas:
Now you are totally a pro at corded pintucks and can get sewin’ on your tap pants or another garment! Psst…this is the easy part.
You will need:
-a Nutmeg pattern in version 2 (tap pants) and all necessary supplies, or another pattern of your choice.
-a twin needle
-a pin tuck foot
-two spools of thread to match the fabric (or one spool and a bobbin wound with matching thread)
-an empty bobbin case
Step 2: Read the introduction to this tutorial, gather your supplies, get your machine threaded properly, and practice sewing pintucks.
Step 3: Draw a design on the yoke of your tap pants.
Step 4: Sew pintucks over your design. Backstitch.
Step 5: You’re done! Just remember to wash the fabric marker out!
* ETA: We used a lovely 3-ply rayon embroidery thread made by EdMar for this, but as others have suggested in the comments, a perle cotton would probably also work. You can experiment with different heavy threads to see what works for you and what look you prefer.