Serger and sewing machines

by Helen on May 31, 2014

This morning I sat down to make wedding table runners.  There are 10 to make, each measuring 78″ x 12″, so quite a lot of cutting and hemming – and before hemming – serging (yes, I know I am English and we call them overlockers, but I actually prefer the US name of serger for these amazingly useful machines as I happily surge with my serger along the edge of my fabric!).

Don’t you love the fabric?  It’s the hearts design from Emma Bridgewater.  Anyway – back to my serger.  I put off purchasing one of these machines for a very long time as, to be perfectly honest, they looked extremely scary with not one, but four tension dials, lots of thread going this way and that, and generally appearing very complicated.  And to begin with, I didn’t love my serger at all.  Not one little bit.  I struggled with threading, lost my temper and said lots of very bad words(!).  But I persevered, and I’m so glad I did as now I love my little serger to pieces.  It’s not a big, expensive model, just a basic little Janome. I adore the way it turns messy raw edges into perfectly finished ones …..

Forgive the fluff – I keep a lovely soft brush to dust it down, and I think it was just about due for this.  And then there are the heaps of trimmings ….

Though if I had one complaint it would be that there’s nothing to catch and contain these pieces.  Both I and the floor end up covered in masses of threads.  But I couldn’t have completed so many of my wedding projects without my serger – it’s been vital for invitations, napkins, confetti bags and now table runners.  I think I’m in love!

My serger isn’t the only machine on my workroom table though – in fact there are three.  My other favourite machine is also a Janome, again a basic, but very reliable model ….

I keep it permanently set up for free-motion quilting and freestyle machine applique/embroidery and it chugs along quite happily at both these tasks.  My least favourite machine is certainly the best looking of the three – my Singer ….

It stitches very nice and evenly and is great for multiple-layers of fabric, but in general doesn’t live up to its looks – in my opinion anyway.  My main issue with it is that if I attempt to sew at anywhere near full speed – on a long hem for example – the needle thread breaks – always!  I have tried all sorts of tweaks, but no – I can only stitch at up to 3/4 speed unless I want to keep stopping and re-threading the needle.  I also wish there was a function to stop sewing with the needle down for pivoting, or simply pulling up more fabric, but it always stops with the needle up which means I have to position it manually.  The presser foot doesn’t exert a lot of pressure so if I try to adjust my fabric with the needle up then it slips and I end up with a misplaced stitch.  But it does look nice, though next time I think I’ll go for another Janome – we seem to suit each other!



My new toy – and a new pattern as well

by Helen on March 14, 2014

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days perched on my lovely pink chair giving happy little sighs of contentment as I gaze around my cheerfully redecorated kitchen.  But today all that changed as I was totally distracted by the arrival of ….

a new toy!  Yes, I am now the proud possessor of an overlocker (or serger) and have spent most of this afternoon playing  practising how to use it.  I’ve been thinking about investing in one for some time, and now have the perfect excuse – it’s going to play a major role in Rosie & Dan’s wedding invitations.  I can’t reveal any more at present, although I am very impatient to tell all about them and will be sure to let you know when they’re done!

As well as playing with my new overlocker, I’ve been writing up another pattern for the April issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  This month’s issue welcomes in the spring, which of course brings the start of the gardening season (for those of us who are fair weather gardeners anyway!).  My friend Jacqui (Flapdoodledesigns) is a very keen gardener and “Digging the Allotment” is based on one of her drawings …

This would be a great beginner’s project as it only uses back stitch and would make a lovely gift for a keen gardener.  If you like Jacqui’s work, then you’ll love her Facebook page where you’ll find lots more of her lovely work – please do pop over and say “hello” if you have a moment.  And finally ….

Can you ever have too many bunnies at Easter?  I’m updating and revising one of my older patterns for the April Magazine.  Hopefully soon I’ll be back with some photos of my Woodland Alphabet Quilt to show (which is also going to be in the April issue).  It’s all finished – and quilted too – but I’m really struggling with photographing it.  Rosie’s here this weekend and perhaps she’ll be able to help me as she’s much better with a camera than I am.  Fingers crossed!