Hello, friends! It's been a whirlwind few weeks. Since my last post, I've been out of town and then started a new job which entails a long commute, so I suspect my sewing and blogging will slow down as I get adjusted. I foresee two paths for myself: I'll either verrrry slowly work on big projects (remember the Lady Grey Coat?) or fit in quick projects when I can (knit tops and skirts would be at the top of my list!).
When you're under a tight schedule, how do you manage to get sewing in? Do you find doing piecemeal sewing at free moments or dedicating a few hours less frequently works better for you? What kind of projects do you find most satisfying when the rest of your life is harried? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I'd hinted last month that I bought a serger. It was a somewhat impulsive decision as I'd been aching for one for months and have continuously said that I couldn't afford it. But when I returned from visiting my family at the end of Self-Stitched-September, my sewing mojo was at an all time low. My excuse? I was tired of investing so much time, effort and hope into garments that I was constantly forgiving. Though I think a forgiving approach is healthy, I really wanted professional looking seams and a machine built to handle knits. If I was going the fewer projects/better quality route, a serger would have to be on my horizon.
And by chance, I found a used one for $70 nearby. And while I'll say now that I think it's worth every penny, we had a rough beginning.
The serger is a Singer Merritt Lock, likely from the 1980s. Since I bought it from a man who was selling his mother's old machine, it lacked all the bells and whistles of a new machine. I had to download the manual online for a fee, learned that my machine does not have a differential feed, and that I could do a rolled hem if only I had the proper plate (which I don't).
But the worst of it is that the tension on the upper looper thread was nonexistent. And did I mention that's sort of crucial?
Sometimes I think I take my DIY-mentality a little too far, but I wasn't willing to take this to a repair shop when I didn't even know how to use the machine. It began with me wanting to see the back of the tension knob on the upper looper thread. One screw here, one screw there, and voila! The inside of my machine. I figured I had a 50-50 chance of not screwing it up irreparably.
My kitchen table, with serger guts.
Turns out, a spring was completely missing from that tension knob. I went to the hardware store, picked up a similar sized one for a buck, and hooray! It works.
I began to teach myself to use the serger with a few quick knit projects. The first is a boatneck tee from Sew U: Homestretch. In the book, Mullin advises you to redraw the neckline on the crewneck pattern, raising the center front by an inch and pushing the shoulder out to a mere inch from where the shoulder meets the sleeve. An illustration of this pattern alteration:
I used one of the boy's old shirts, and here's what I came up with:
At first I was dubious as to whether the shape was flattering, but I find the boatneck and wide sleeves to be so elegant and tres Audrey.
My only complaint, however, is how little fabric remains on the shoulder. Mullin suggests 1", but if you subtract the seam allowances (1/4 inch each), that leaves you with a scant 1/2 inch. When I make another boatneck, I'll redraw the pattern 2 inches from the sleeve, leaving me with 1-1/2 inches on each side.
Above all else, I'm pleased with the quality of this homemade garment and that's not something I've ever felt. I could hang this shirt inside out and not blush with shame.
Though I'm still getting used to how to secure chain ends (and am too heavily reliant on Fray Check!) I'm so glad to have a serger. I hope that I'll get adept enough at using it that, when sewing knits, I can sew on my conventional machine minimally.
I'd read people ooh-and-ahhh over their sergers, often noting that it saves them so much time, which is something I hadn't understood, asking myself, Could it really be that much faster than the zigzag function on my conventional machine? But now I get it, it's that magical knife. The trimming and finishing of a seam in a single step not only saves time in all seam finishes, but I've already used it for raw edges (for an informal look) and for neatly trimming imperfect edges (with those shimmying knits!).
Do you have a serger, and if so, what do you find you use it most for? Any uses besides replacing the zigzag function on your conventional machines?
Happy weekend, folks, and happy sewing :)
Marilyn Monroe checking her makeup. - Marilyn Monroe checking her makeup.