Tag Archive | babylock

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!

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My Sewing Machines – Part 1: The Beginning

craftroom

My Sewing Machines – Part 1: The Beginning

(Updated: June 13th, 2105)

Someone asked in one of my previous posts comments what equipment I was using was in my sewing studio.

I thought about this question for awhile and I decided that it would be better to delve into this question a little deeper and not only answer the question of what I currently use but why I currently use it.

It will also give a good overview for anyone considering purchasing their own embroidery machine and the many joys, pitfalls, and costs of ownership of this type of equipment.

This information will be broken into several parts and posted over the next several weeks. It is a lot of information to get typed up and will be a lot of information for the reader to digest.

I hope it is helpful to some of my readers.

This will probably be more information than you wanted to know, but as long as I’m telling the story, I thought the beginning was a good place to start.

My mother taught me to sew starting at age 8 through a series of 4-H projects. If you don’t know what 4-H is you can check it out here.

As a young kid with very little interest in sewing, it was no fun and I struggled through the projects.

As I was doing the projects I thought to myself, my mom is an excellent seamstress, so why did I have to learn? Couldn’t she just sew it for me?

I also knew that I was going to be a professional career woman when I got older and of course, I would never have to sew for myself. I would be able to pay someone to do that for me.

It sounds like famous last words doesn’t it?

Oh how young, silly and naive I was!

Every year before the new school year started, my mom would sit us down with the pattern book and we would pick out a school wardrobe for that year and she would start sewing them for us. Mom would do her best to try and get us involved in this sewing, but it was easier to say, “No Mom, you just do it and I will fix dinner”, or I’ll do the laundry or whatever else so I didn’t have to sew anything myself.

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As strange as it may sound, it was my first trip to a big and tall store that got me into sewing. 

My husband and I had just married and we were going to college, poorer than church mice, and he needed some dress shirts for work. I did not even have a sewing machine at the time or really know what to do with one, but after laying out that kind of money for a few of his dress shirts, I decided I wanted, no make that NEEDED to be a seamstress and soon!

My husband purchased me my first sewing machine as a Christmas gift that year. It was not the smallest Brother sewing machine they made at the time, but it was the next step up from the bottom of the line model and I was so excited to get it!

A few days later my mother in law called and said she was getting rid of her serger and her sewing box and asked if I would like them.

Yes!

The serger she gave me at the time was just a three spool, but any thing was better than what I had which was nothing. Sergers also cost a lot more than a sewing machines did at the time so I was very grateful to have one.

Her sewing box was filled with many notions, pins, needles, bias tape, buttons, etc. so I was on my way.

At the time all of my sewing equipment was stored in the living room coat closet of our tiny apartment but I made do with what I had.99cents

The next big help for me in my sewing endeavors was a part time job I got at a fabric store. I got the job just for the extra money, telling them that my sewing skills were not very good, but they hired me anyway. I loved the job and enjoyed cutting fabric all day and talking to the customers about what they were going to make with their purchases. The other ladies that I worked with at the store were all so helpful and gave me great sewing advice as we worked together.

The store had inexpensive fabric at $2 a yard or less and the employees got a discount on everything and thus became the start of my fabric stash. The store also gave free fabric and notions to their employees to make fun projects for the store to display.

After being displayed in the store for 30 days, the display projects were yours to take home and keep. I made all kinds of fun stuff for the store displays that I would have never spent my own money on.

Once our schooling ended and we started our full time jobs we moved to a bigger apartment. With that my sewing equipment was moved to a larger closet in the spare bedroom. My ingenious husband got me a folding table that looked like an ironing board that fit in the closet. With my sewing machine on one side and the serger on the other, plus shelves on the side, my first sewing room was born.

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While out Christmas shopping one day, we saw a demo of the Viking Huskylock 1001L sergers from Husqvarna and I was in love with the 4th and 5th spools, differential feed, auto thread tensioning, and all the other great new features it had over my old 3 spool model. After listening to the lady’s sales pitch, we told her we would love one but just could not afford the machine at it’s current cost of just under $3000.

She told us if I did not mind a used one, that after the demo was over, she was instructed to sell the demo models at a discount, and would sell me one for less than the regular price. I was thrilled at this and agreed to purchase the demo model for just under $2000 with very little use on it. And it is the same serger that I am still using today.

Over the years, I have looked at the new models of sergers as they came out and debated about an upgrade, but decided against it since the only feature that I would gain that I might use is the cover lock stitch.

Serger and sewing machine technologies don’t seem to move very quickly forward as it turns out.

Speaking of sergers there are two types of sergers you can purchase.

There is the $200 kind at discount store like Wal-Mart or the $1500+ kind at a sewing machine shop. If you are a casual sewer the $200 models will probably work for you for occasional use, but if you are serious about sewing your money will be better spent on getting the more expensive models as they are built better, work better and will last you for a much longer time.

My Viking serger I mentioned above it over 20 years old now and I haven’t had a single problem with it in all those years.

I continued to use my little Brother sewing machine to sew curtains, sleepers, pants, shirts, bedspreads, comforters, etc. for many years until the arrival of the combo sewing and embroidery machines.

Stay Tuned for next weeks post: My Sewing Machines – Part 2: The Embroidery Machines