What causes the stitches on my fleece to make holes along the seamline?

olive-sweatpants-seam

For my 2008 SWAP wardrobe I sewed these olive sweatpants from some 100% cotton Siltex fleece. I think the official Siltex Canada color name is Pesto.

I used the Kwik Sew 3393 pants pattern and they fit quite nicely. Not tight at all; but skim over the lumps/bumps. The thing I like best about this pair is that they have stayed long enough! I did wash/dry/preshrink the fabric twice with hot water and a medium hot dryer, so that probably helped.

But I’m disappointed in the fabric along the seamlines. The knit fabric loops have broken occasionally along the stitching lines. Not every stitch, just one or two per inch. Sewn with a narrow zigzag on my Bernina 1090, not with the serger.

olive-sweatpants-seam1

Maybe it’s a dull needle? Or maybe too-sharp needle that’s cutting the yarns as it stitches? I truly do not remember whether I used a Schmetz Universal needle or not, nor which size, although I’d guess an 80 or 90 (12 or 14). I change needles quite often, usually after each project, so I would have thought it wouldn’t be a worn-out needle. I check the needle for burrs quite often, as that’s one of my pet peeves. So maybe I need a ballpoint or a stretch needle next time.

olive-sweatpants-seam2

And there will be a next time. In fact I may use the same pattern again with the same fabric. I’ve worn this pair at least one day every week for about 8 months (not counting the months it was too hot to wear such heavy pants. The color goes with several tops and even though it’s technically ‘sweatpants’ they do look quite a bit dressier than that when worn.

I wonder if the cotton fibers are just less pliable than polyester. Or if there’s something about our very alkaline water that makes the cotton fibers brittle? Anyone have ideas about this? And/or experience fixing it?

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