Tag Archive | #3

Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Finishing – Part 3

DSCN0959A now a few choice words about inserting the zipper!

After attaching the zipper foot to my machine and placing the pinned front and zipper under the pressure foot, I decided that the needle was not close enough to the zipper, so I moved the needle over to the far edge. When I started to sew, I quickly learned that DSCN0966my seam was too close to the zipper. Because I was so close, I had to sew around the zipper top and bottom, giving me a curved seam rather than a straight seam for attaching the zipper. Also the tension of the seam was too loose because the pressure foot was not in the right spot to hold the fabric and zipper properly where the seam was stitching at. At this point, I stopped and thought about why I had moved the needle and why I wanted a close seam.

DSCN0967The reason I moved the needle was that I thought too much of the zipper tape would be exposed if I did not have the needle close to the zipper. What I learned was that not much of the zipper tape would have been exposed with leaving the needle where it was suppose to be. Plus, the amount of the zipper tape that was exposed was a nice look and gave it a little bit of style, especially since I was using a contrasting colored zipper. Also, with the seam not that close to the zipper, there was less chance of the fabric getting caught in the zipper when the jacket is being zipped up. Fabric catching in the zipper was not that much DSCN0956of a concern with the big molded #3 zipper I was using with this fleece but it would be something to consider with other zippers and fabrics. A straight seam would look better than the curved seam and it would be easier to sew, and the tensions would be correct it the needle was not moved. So, lesson learned. Don’t move the needle to the far edge to sew the zipper on even if you think that is how you should do it.

DSCN0962Because the jacket did not turn out as cute as I envisioned, my plans to embroider several designs on the front and back of the finished jacket dwindled quickly. But, the jacket was still going to be a wearable item so I wanted to embroider a design of some sort on it. It was not difficult to pick the Smirk design that I stitched on this jacket. I love the design’s simple look and it’s few colors and I think it looks great on the jacket. For me, it gives me something fun that I am happy about and it gave me something fun to look at, rather than focusing on the messy peplum I had made.

Now that this jacket is done, I am happy that I competed it and have a wearable item rather than tossing it in the UFO pile with the peplum problems I had with it. I don’t think that the problems that I have with the jacket will effect how it wears and I hope that some little girl will enjoy a new jacket to wear.

Until next time, sew forth and peplum on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Gathering – Part 2

DSCN0701My sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum was working fine as I gathered the peplum’s top and bottom, sewed the gathered top of the peplum to the hem, sewed the zipper on and then added the facings, but the plan fell apart at the last step.

DSCN0704Upon lifting the gathered bottom to the gathered top, something wasn’t right. My intensions were to fold the gathers of the bottom over, pin in place and stitch in the ditch on the top and have a nice clean finish on both the outside and the inside. The folded gathers of the bottom placed on top of the gathers of the top were just too bulky. I could not fold over the gathers of the bottoms for a clean finish. So, how could I finish the bottom edge? I know, I would do it as I normally would finish a edge, with the serger. I would finish the bottom edge with the serger and still stitch in the ditch. I would just have a exposed serged edge on the inside.

DSCN0944But my gathers did not withstand the serging. The serger stretched the gathers out. I adjusted my serger’s differential feed and I tried to keep my gathers together as best as I could while serging . But when I was done serging, I had a terribly messy serged seam. Despite the bad seam finish, I sewed on. I folded up the bottom edge and started to pin the peplum into place for the stitch in the ditch seam. I learned quickly that this was going to be a terrible looking seam as well. Gathers on top of gathers are not a good idea. There were several options for fixing the messy serged seams but fixing it would not solve the gathers on top of gathers problem which was the real point of failure with my “inserting the zipper it to the peplum” plan.

DSCN0952At this point I felt I had learned the sewing lessons from this sewing project as best I could and I had no desire to finish this jacket. Should I call the lessons learned good enough and throw this jacket away or continue to sew on it and have a complete wearable item? I’m not a quitter so I decided to keep sewing.

DSCN0950Between the lost gathers in the serging, the poor serged seam and the gathers on top of gathers, the stitch in the ditch seam was a real challenge. I finally muddled my way though this seam and finished the peplum with the zipper inserted inside it. I have a terrible mess on the inside of the top, but luckily the outside does not look that bad. The gathers look stressed and misplaced but still ok. And the peplum is more of a ruffle than it is a peplum. The inside seam though is nothing short of a disaster.

I have a few more things to tell about this sewing project but I will save them for next time.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Plan – Part 1

pockets-002Having totally enjoyed recently learning some new sewing skills like making pleats and bias tape, I wanted to learn more. As I thought about my sewing skill set I decided that the next skill I wanted to work on was pocket making. Patch pockets, in seam pockets, welt pockets, and zippered pockets. And what has lots of pockets? Jackets do. They have lots of pockets. And that would lead to another needed sewing skill that I could work on, inserting zippers into jackets. With a vague plan in mind, I began by surfing the internet for pictures and ideas for zippered jackets with lots of pockets.

DSCN0949When I ran across this free pattern for a girl’s top with a zippered front and peplum hem, I thought this pattern would fit into my current sewing plan just fine. I don’t know why I like it so much, and it has no pockets, but that’s ok. I’ll add some patch pockets to it so that it meets my current sewing criteria. I already had the perfect pink sweatshirt fleece to use to make this jacket and a bright white zipper for it. I had envisioned the final jacket already in my mind and it was adorable! I was even picking out embroidery designs for the front and back of the jacket. I was so excited to get sewing!

The sewing process started with the shoulder seams and inserting the sleeves. The sleeves are gathered at the top. I was not sure how the fleece would gather, but it did fine and the sleeves looked great.

DSCN0689This is the point where I threw the pattern guide out the window. After the side seams were sewn, the pattern guide called for the peplum to be folded, gathered, and then sewn to the bottom of the top. Next, the zipper was to be sewn to the front from the neck to the bottom of the peplum. Then the facings were sewn on next. Since the facings did not extend down to the bottom of the zipper, the zipper tape would be exposed where it was sewn to the peplum and there was no finish for the facings. I did not like the idea of exposed zipper tape on the peplum, so after debating over many options to fix the exposed zipper tape problem, I decided to insert the zipper into the peplum.

LizzyPeplum16After much more thought, I finally improvised a sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum. My first step would be to gather the peplum, but rather than folding the peplum and gathering it as one piece, I would gather the top and the bottom separately. Next, I would sew the gathered top of the peplum to the hem of the top. Sewing the zipper to the front would be next. The facings would be the next thing to be added so that the bottom of the facings would be enclosed in the final hemming seam. The final hemming seam would be to fold the gathered bottom of the peplum up to the top of the peplum and stitch in the ditch to finish the peplum and the hem. The zipper and facings would then be encased in the peplum.

I had a plan. Stay tuned to see how it didn’t work out.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!