Tag Archive | serge

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!

Advertisements

Yay Sports! Go Team!

DSCN3421 (1)IMG (1)I am certainly not a big sports fan, and I am especially not a big football fan, but I am a BIG fan of fabric. So, you know, when I saw this football fleece on clearance at Joann’s and I also had a coupon for even more off the already low reduced price, you just knew I was going to buy some of it. And even though I may not be a big football fan, I am sure there is some one out there that is, and would want me to make something for them from this fleece.

In trying to fall in love with fleece again, I did some reading on the internet and I found some suggestions for sewing with fleece. I wanted to try out a couple of the suggestions, so I pulled out this football fleece and a simple pattern, Kwik Sew 3235, for a pullover fleece jacket. In making a pullover jacket, I won’t have to worry about buttons or a zipper, and I could focus on the seams and the suggestions I had read about.

DSCN2561DSCN2797I could not decide which size between a medium or large that I wanted to make, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the fabric decided for me. I would be making a medium pullover jacket. Also as previously mentioned, this pattern was not very easy to cut out due to the fabric. I had to really work to keep the footballs and helmets straight. When I cut out the pocket, I purposely did not match the design because I wanted the pocket to stand out from the rest of the jacket’s design.

With my pattern pieces cut out, I started the sewing process. The first suggestion I followed was to put a new needle in the machine. The suggestion said to make sure it was a ballpoint needle. I only use Schmetz universal needles so that is what I sewed it with and it did great. The next suggestion was to lengthen my stitch length because of the bulk, which I did. When it can time to iron it, I followed another suggestion of using a press cloth so I could iron the fleece a little more aggressively without hurting the fleece.

DSCN3426 (1)DSCN3429 (1)One article I read suggested three different types of seams that worked well for sewing fleece, a fake flat fell seam (sometimes called a faux flat felled seam), a lapped seam or a double topstitched seam. I was not impressed with the lapped seams but wanted to try the other two seams. As I started to sew, I found that I wanted to just sew double top stitch seams so that the seams matched. The double top stitch seam is sewn by first sewing your seam as you normally would, then sewing the seam allowances down close to the edge of the seam allowance, then trimming close to the seam allowance stitching. Since fleece does not fray, cutting close to the stitches finishes off the seam. On the top side, there is a cool double row of stitching encasing the seam. This is a fun look that looks like it took a lot of effort to sew but was really easy and it looks great! Especially if you sew straight, which I seem to have a hard time doing most of the time. 🙂

DSCN3424 (1)DSCN3423 (1)I was able to do the double top stitch seams on the shoulder seams, the sleeve seams and even the hood’s seams, but when it came time to double topstitch the underarm/side seams, I realized that would be impossible. Because the arm is a tube, there was no way I was going to fit the fabric under the presser foot and sew it. I tried to figure out a way to do the topstitching but could not. I turned to the internet for help, but pretty much everyone said the same thing that it could not be done with a normal home sewing machine.

There were a few suggestions on the internet for how to finish the seam but I was not thrilled with the answers. Pondering the possible ways to finish this seam, I stared at my serger and I shook my head. I have the tools, i.e. a serger, why not use it. So I serged the underarm/side seams to finish them. Because this is not a super heavy fleece, no issues occurred while serging it. I also used the serger to finish the edges on the facing. I could have just left the edge unfinished on the facings but that would have really bugged me.

DSCN3422 (1)For the hems, I folded and sewed the hems as usual but with out finishing the edge with the serger or folding the edges over. After completing the hems, I trimmed the edges close to the stitches as I did for the seam allowances so that all the inside seams matched. I did the same with the pockets opening edge.

Looking at the completed jacket, I liked what I saw from the outside. The top stitching looked great! From the inside though, the serged seams looked so much cleaner and finished than just the trimmed seams. But, I was not disappointed that I had done the double topstitched seams for the others. It was fun to try something different, plus I will have a new technique for sewing a heavier fleece that would not serge well in a later project.

This jacket was fun to make and turned out great!

So, am I in love with fleece again? The answer is maybe.

The cutting out of this pullover jacket was a real task, but the sewing was fun especially with applying the suggestions I had read about. I do see more fleece projects in my future so stay tuned.

Until then, fleece forth, and sports on!

WWWHHHAAATTT!?! – The Minions – Part 2

DSCN2582I had already spent the appropriate amount of time worrying about making this minion shirt so it was easy to get started on it.

I really wanted this shirt to sew together without any problems, so I decided to take my time and think things through carefully. So after laundering and ironing the fabric , it was time to start cutting.

I cut very carefully and added the alterations that I wanted to the pattern as I cut. I was quite selective about the interfacing I chose to use and I went ahead and cut it out too.

DSCN2584As I started to sew, I realized that I did make one cutting/design error, well not really an error, but a small change to the design. In my mind, the shirt had the minion fabric on the right and the blue on the left, but I had cut the left front from the minion fabric and the right front from the blue fabric. Mmmmmm, was this going to look ok? After much thought, I decided it would look fine, and maybe better because the buttons would be on the solid blue fabric instead of lost in the the minions fabric.

DSCN2581The sewing when smoothly. I took my time and tried the shirt on after each step. I also ironed each seam carefully as it was sewn. As I serged the edges of the sleeves, preparing them to be hemmed, I did not notice that I I was running out of thread on one of my loopers. Once the looper ran out of thread, my serged edge was ruined. Luckily, I had debated about cutting 1/2 inch off the length of the sleeves and had not done so yet. So, I cut the 1/2 inches off the length of the sleeves ridding me of the bad serged edge, threaded new spools of thread on my loopers and serged the new edges.

With the sewing on of the final button, I declared the shirt done and tried it on. The fit seemed to be good, but as I looked at myself in the mirror, the shirt needed to be something else. The right blue front was just that, blue. I grabbed some scraps and started adding to the blue front piece.

DSCN2493At first, I wanted to add a stripe of minion fabric down the blue front, but that was too much of an accent. I thought about digitizing a minion embroidery design. But since I was too excited about wearing the shirt, and it would take time to perfect the design and I wanted to wear the shirt now. My next thought was a pocket. This would not be a functioning pocket, just something for show, so it would not have to be any certain size or style. I decided to make a temporary pocket and see how it looked pinned on.

DSCN2496To make the pocket, I cut out two squares of fabric and then rounded the corner on one end. Next, with right sides together, I sewed completely around the two modified squares. Next, I made a small cut in the fabric that would be inside the pocket. I turned the pocket right side out through this slit. After a lot of pressing, with a little seam to seam, I mended the cut that I made in the pocket to turn it inside out. This worked well and I had a finished pocket. Since I will not be putting anything in this pocket, I am not worried about the seam to seam mending holding up with wear and tear.

Placing the pocket on the blue front, I liked it, then with another look, I did not, then after a few minutes, I liked it again.

Argh!

DSCN2498I turned to the husband for his opinion and he said that he did like the pocket, so I sewed the pocket to the front of the shirt. I am still up in the air as to wether I like the pocket or not but it is sewn to the shirt for now.

The shirt has passed the “wear” test and I really like it. My alterations seem to be good. This shirt is fun to wear and is very comfortable.

It also makes me crave bananas for some reason…

Until next time, sew forth and banana on!

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 3

DSCN0598A Hong Kong seam is made when you finish the edges of a seam by covering them with bias tape. It sounds simple enough to do, but there are always new sewing lessons to be learned every time you try something new and this time was no different.

But first a note to myself, make sure and cut the skirt pieces with a larger seam allowance to accommodate the bias tape. This gives you room to sew the bias tape on and not affect the circumference of the top of the skirt.

DSCN0570Two lessons that I learned about applying bias tape from the construction of this dress were to make sure and watch which side of the bias tape you’re working on and to watch which side of the fabric the bias tape is going to fold to.

DSCN0574Lesson one, remember the advise about making one side of the bias tape longer than the other while ironing the bias tape? And remember being careful to do just that as you ironed? Well, use that to your advantage when you’re sewing the bias tape on. When I started to sew the bias tape to my first seam allowance, I did not think to make sure I was sewing the shorter side of the bias tape first. By making sure that shorter side of the bias tape is sewn down first , that gives you the longer side to fold over. This gives you the little extra fabric on the back side, making it easier DSCN0575to catch the bias tape as you stitch in the ditch on the top side. When you stitch the longer side first and then fold the shorter side over, not only is there not the extra fabric but you are short fabric from folding over the longer side. Once I figured this out and sewed the short side first and then folding over the long side, the sewing on of the bias tape became much easier.

DSCN0577The second lesson of watching which side of the fabric the bias tape is folded to came when I added the the bias tape to the hem. When I sewed the bias tape to the seam allowances, I sewed it to the top of the fabric and then folded it to the back. After stitching in the ditch on the top, I had a nice clean finish on top and it did not matter if my seam was a little wavy on the back side. After binding the seam allowances of the two seams of the skirt, I had plenty of bias tape left over so I decided to use the remaining bias tape to finish off the hem of the skirt too.

DSCN0602But, since I did not remember to think a couple of steps ahead and see what was going to fold where, I sewed the short side of the bias tape to the inside of the hem. This meant I would be folding the longer side of the bias tape to the front of the skirt. Even though I had remembered to sew the short end first, I had not thought about what side the bias tape would be folding to. At this point when I stitched in the ditch on the inside of the skirt, the wavy part of the seam from catching the bias tape would be on the top side of the skirt in plain view. And the nice clean finish would be on the inside where no one could see it.

DSCN0601To fix this I could unpick the bias tape and sew it again, this time to the outside of the skirt and fold the bias tape to the inside. Rolling my eyes at the thought of unpicking all that bias tape, I thought of another plan. I would not finish the bias tape with a stitch in the ditch seam but sew a nice even edge on the top of the folded over bias tape. This way I would have a seam on the bias tape but it would not be wavy like the one I had sewn from the opposite side. The inside part would have the wavy seam instead. This worked out just great! My seam on the bias tape side is nice and smooth and even, but if you look inside you will see a seam that hits and misses the ditch between the bias tape and skirt. This is fine with me. It looks great on the outside and it still looks acceptable from the inside, and I did not have to unpick a single stitch.

DSCN0600Because I had attached the buttons and button holes while completing the bodice of this dress, the last step was to attach the skirt to the bodice. At this point I still had plenty of bias tape left so I decided to use it to finish this last seam attaching the skirt to the bodice too. Because this seam is inside the dress, I did not care which side had the clean finish and which side had the wavy seam, and using the bias tape did give the seam a nice beautiful finish. Note to myself – keep bias tape and Hong Kong seams in mind for finishing seams where a serged seam would be exposed.

DSCN0605This dress turned out so adorable once it was completed. I love the true camp collar and how much easier it was to sew than the collar the original pattern called for. With the changes that I made to this pattern, I will definitely be using this pattern again for future projects. I also love the Hong Kong seam of the skirt as well as the bias tape hem. I learned many sewing lessons from the construction of this dress, especially regarding the making of and the applying of bias tape. I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing it.

Until next time, sew forth and sew on.

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 2

DSCN0556When it came to making bias tape my first thought was just to purchase some, but then I stopped myself since I was supposed to be learning new sewing skills while making this project. Making bias tape was something I have never done before so now was a great time to learn.

The first step was to cut out strips of fabric on the bias. Since I had some white kitty fabric left, I decided to use it to make the bias tape with. I had no idea how much bias tape I needed for this project, but I had enough scraps to make 4 yards so that sounded like plenty. With the markings on my cutting table and my trusty metal ruler and my blade, it was easy to measure and cut the bias strips to the proper sizes.

DSCN0562Next came stitching the bias strips into one long piece. This took some thought. After thinking that I had the angles correct I sewed the pieces together, only to find out that I had not angled the strips correctly. A quick internet search taught me that the strips needed to be sewn at right angles. After learning how to sew them the right way, I unpicked and sewed the strips together correctly. The main thing I learned here that it is important to take the cutting of the strips seriously. Carefully cut strips out make it easier to sew the right angles.

DSCN0566Ironing the bias tape into its folded shape was the next step. Years ago, my mom gave me a bias tape maker. I promptly brought it home and tossed it in the closet with my other sewing notions. Now it was coming out of the closet and making its debut. It took a little bit of finagling to get the bias strip in the bias tape maker but once it was in, it was easy to see how the maker was going to fold the strip and make the forming and ironing of the bias tape DSCN0568easier.

 

While searching the internet on the angles, I did read that it was best to make one side of the bias tape larger than the other, not much, just enough to give you a little sewing edge. I decided to follow their advice. The ironing of the bias tape was time consuming but not difficult. Once again I learned that carefully cut strips and carefully sewn angles make it easier iron the folds. Accuracy is a key point of successful bias tape making.

In a short time, I had 4 yards of bias tape made and I was ready to start sewing the Hong Kong seams of the skirt.

Until then, sew forth on and bias on!

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 1

S2907 - Version 2After enjoying altering a pattern that I had previously made, I turned my attention back to Simplicity 2907. I like the design of this little girls dress with the camp shirt attached to the drop waist skirt. What I did not like about the pattern was the bodice of the shirt being cut for a stand collar and then a camp collar being attached. So, I either needed to alter this pattern and give it a stand collar or cut the front to make it an actual camp collar. The camp collar on the dress is much cuter than a stand collar would be so I chose to make the alterations to the front of bodice by adding a facing. But there was more to be learned from the making of this dress. I decided to use Hong Kong seams to finish the seams of the skirt and this lead to the making of bias tape. This would be two new sewing skills, Hong Kong seams and making bias tape, for me. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start first with the alterations that I made.

DSCN0552The first steps were to select the fabric, alter the pattern, and cut the dress out. I knew I wanted to use up the kitty scraps from the wrap top I had made previously. And I wanted to make the front and back of bodice from the pink fabric and the sleeves and collar from the white, but that did not work out as I had hoped. As you may recall, the last time I made this dress, I used a thin yellow fabric for the bodice. After attaching the dropped waist skirt, I was afraid that the little girl’s panties would show through the yellow at the top of the skirt and I didn’t want to worry about that this time around. Using the pink for the front and the back would solve this, but DSCN0554I did not have enough scraps to do that. So, I picked the white for the front and the pink for the rest of the bodice pieces. At least the white kitty fabric is heavier than the yellow was so maybe there would not be a see through fabric problem with it. I found some scraps of denim in the stash for the skirt. I would not be lining the denim, so this would work great for the Hong Kong seams.

DSCN0604Altering the pattern was simple. I mirrored the front pattern piece to make an attached facing. Instead of the first steps in the sewing process being sewing the odd box shape and cutting the funny notch for the collar, I simply sewed a camp shirt top like I make for myself, with the folded over front facings to complete the bodice front, and a pieces of twill tape to complete the collar. I did not do Hong Kong seams on the bodice. I was saving those for the skirt. I was smart enough to make the buttonholes first before I attached the skirt so that there was no arguing with the bulk of the seam on the bottom buttonhole.

Soon enough, I had the bodice completed and it was time to sew the skirt. The first step would be to make bias tape. And that is a story for next time.

Until then, sew forth and camp collar on!

The French Box Top

DSCN0651Having successfully completes the box pleat skirt for the little girls dress that I recently made, I wanted to continue practicing by making more box pleats. With that, I picked this box pleated top as my next project. It only had one box pleat so it would be a fast sew, but I would still be practicing another box pleat. Because I felt comfortable with sewing the box pleat, I decided to finish the seams off with French seams. This top would then give me practice on two sewing techniques that I had already tried, but that I could still use some practice in making.

DSCN0661The pattern for this top was a free one that I found online. I had just enough ladybugs and green cotton scraps left over to make this top with. So I printed out the pattern, taped it together and cut it out. As I cut out the paper pattern, I noticed that the facing and the front pieces of the top did not match up. I knew that if I cut the pattern out based on the pattern pieces, I would have a mess with mismatched facings, and I would get flustered while sewing this together and not get good results. Knowing this, I discarded the facings pieces from the pattern and just used the top pieces to cut a facing instead.

Sewing the top started with the French seams to piece the ladybug fabric and green cotton fabrics together. The French seams came out great! They are clean and finished. Since the green cotton is heavier than the ladybug fabric, I sewed the French seams to the green cotton rather than the other way around.

DSCN0212Next came sewing the box pleat. This time, I sewed the seam down the back of the pleat, flattened the pleat and then stitched across the top of the pleat to secure it. I did not top stitch the box onto the pleat like I did for the skirt. I wanted the pleat to open up if needed on this top.

DSCN0250Next up, I sewed the shoulder seams and then it was time to apply the facings. After reading the pattern guide for how to sew the facings, I decided the pattern guides instructions would not work for me. So I threw the pattern guide away along with the facings pieces from the pattern. I decided to sew the facing to the top as I had learned from making the bodices of the dresses that I had made before. I sewed around the neck and down the back, and then around the arms. Next, I stitched the side seams together. Because the side seams were exposed after the facing ended, I did a French seam for the side seams. But, as I tried to sew the French side seam down, I ran into trouble. The French side seam on top of the French piecing seams was just too thick. I broke 3 needles before I gave up and decided not to stitch down the French side seams. I don’t believe that having the side seams not stitched down will affect the wearing of this top. Next, I hemmed the facing.

DSCN0653Once again because the facing did not extend to the bottom of the top and because I had abandoned the pattern guides instructions, half of the back seams were left exposed. So to finish off the edge, I folded the edge over on each side of the back. This gave me four layers of fabric at the top where the facings are and two layers down below the facings. I did not apply any interfacing to the button placket because of the 4 layers, but as I sewed the buttonholes and buttons to the top, I wished that I had added some interfacing below the facing where the top was only two layers thick, especially on the thinner ladybug fabric. The buttons and buttonholes came out fine even without the interfacing. There was no way my buttonholer would sew over the French seams, so I had to carefully measure and place the buttonholes so that I would not have an issue making them or sewing on the buttons. The last steps were to hem the bottom of the top and topstitch around the arms and neck.

DSCN0655I am pleased with the end results of this top. It was great to practice with the box pleats and French seams, but what I am most proud of is that I was able to identify the pitfalls of the pattern and the construction early on in the project. And that I was able to use my sewing knowledge to circumvent them instead of suffering through them, and to find a better way for me to complete the project. Usually if there is a hard way to do something, that’s my way of doing it, but this time that was not true. I hope I can keep up this forethought momentum as I move on to my next project.

Until next time, sew forth and box top on.