Tag Archive | cheap

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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Just Sewing It In

It sounds pretty simple of course, but it is not really. Let me explain. I spend a lot of my sewing time having epic battles with interfacing. A commenter to one of my posts of interfacing frustration said to stop using cheap interfacing or to use sew in interfacing rather than the iron on interfacing that I have been such a fan of for years now. Since the only stores I have to buy interfacing from are Joann’s or Walmart, I can only buy what they carry, and they seem to only have the cheap interfacing. I could order more expensive interfacing on line but I don’t know what I will get without seeing and feeling it first. With that, I decided to try some sew in interfacing on the next shirt that I made the husband.

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When it came time to cut out a new shirt for the husband, I grew leery of trying the sew in interfacing on his shirt so I decided to make a child’s shirt first and try it on that instead. I figured it was less fabric and interfacing wasted if it didn’t work out. I did not think that you needed to preshrink interfacing so I cut out the shirt and the interfacing and started to sew. I did preshrink the fabric before I cut as I always do. Later, I read online many horror stories of people not preshrinking their interfacing first and I panicked. I then proceeded to wash all of my sew in interfacing, cut, sewn or not. It did shrink a little in the washing and drying process, but probably not enough to make a difference on this small shirt. I do feel better now though about using the interfacing and not having to worry about it shrinking after the garment is finished.

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As I basted the sew in interfacing to the fabric, I quickly learned that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. First, I tried using long stitches to baste the interfacing to the fabric but quickly learned that I liked smaller stitches better. When I remembered that pins are my friends, I found that rather than basting, I could just pin the sew in interfacing and the fabric together and I got a good result as I sewed, especially if the pieces were small. Next, I learned that you really have to watch the stretch of the fabric. You don’t want to let the fabric stretch as you sew it to the interfacing. They need to match and match flat. Keeping it flat was not as easy as it sounds either. For me, the fabric sewn to the interfacing wanted to bubble in the middle as I sewed the shirt together, which is what the basting or the pinning was not suppose to let happen. Argh!

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So, in conclusion, what I learned is that using sew in interfacing is a skill like any other with sewing. There is more to it than just sewing it in. Also, I learned that I need lots more practice with the sewing in of sew in interfacing before I can say I have mastered the skill.  So, I will keep sewing with it and learn this new skill of using sew in interfacing.

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P.S. The construction of the child’s shirt has been complicated, not so much because of the sew in interfacing but because of my inexperience and lack of skill in constructing a slit placket. I’ll talk more about that problem in a later blog post though.

Mixed Up Monkey

I found this monkey pattern on Ravelry.com and fell in love with it. I printed out the pattern and it quickly made its way to the top of my to do list.

Excited about crocheting this monkey, I went to the yarn stash but could not find the correct brown colored yarn that I had pictured in my mind for this monkey. Flustered, I checked out the local places I have to buy yarn but I really did not find what I was looking for. Then I ran across this variegated yarn and decided it would work ok. I was not thrilled about it, but it was better than anything else I had found. For the accents, I picked the cheap tan brown yarn I had used to make Calli the bear,  a while back. I did remember that I really did not like this yarn as it has no stretch, but decided to use it anyway. Boy, I could not have picked two different acting yarns. The variegated Vanna’s Choice yarn stretched quite a bit as I crocheted, and the cheap tan yarn did not give at all. In fact, the variegated yarn gave too much. When I stuffed the monkey, the variegated yarn showed larger holes in the crocheting than I like.

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As far as the pattern goes, it is very well written. I had no problems following the instructions, and the body parts turned out just like the picture showed. I did make one modification to the pattern. Row 1 started with 8 sc in the ring. I knew this was going to make a large hole at the start of each body part, as I learned from Blue, the giraffe. So, I made the first row 4 sc in the ring and row two 8 sc, increasing each body part by one row. I am pleased with the end results using this technique and will try to remember this lesson on other amigurumi’s I make later.

I think I overstuffed this monkey though. As I crocheted the body parts, I pictured this monkey being a rag doll monkey, his body hanging in a floppy lump as he is carried by his arm. I stuffed the body and the head firmly but only stuffed the arms and legs at the base. I got the effect I was looking for from the arms and legs but the body and head is too full to hang flopply as I had envisioned.

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As usual, I was not happy with the results as I sewed the parts together, partly because of the stuffing problem, but as he reached completion, he turned out as cute as could be. His ears made all the difference. When I attached the ears, he took on his own personality and his cuteness really popped. I want to make another monkey though and see if I can get the rag doll look I was going for. This monkey’s pattern came with a banana pattern. I have not tried it yet but I will. He needs a banana. He also needs a name and a home. Any suggestions?