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!



Moving my sewing room…

by Helen on June 8, 2013

Inspired and energised by the wonderful summer sunshine we’ve been enjoying here for the past couple of weeks(!) I decided to undertake a project that I’ve been planning for a little while.  Not a sewing project … but a sewing room project.  My old sewing room was in the smallest upstairs room, at the back of the house – lovely to look out over the garden in the summer months, but cold with little sunshine through the winter.  So I decided to move things around and transfer my sewing area to the little-used spare bedroom at the front – not such a nice view, but much cosier – and larger too….

Coombe Leigh

 With room for a lovely comfy sofa – that also doubles as a bed for guests.  The hand-crochet blanket was an amazing bargain from Totnes market – just £20 (that’s around $32) for an enormous – about 6′ x 4′ blanket – I don’t think I would even be able to purchase the yarn for that amount.  I did query with the stallholder if she was certain that was the correct price, but she assured me it was so I carried it home in triumph and have been waiting to show it off in all its multicoloured glory!  One of the teddies is a childhood friend, the other was rescued from a village fete a couple of summers ago – a very handsome fellow indeed.  My sewing machine also looks as though it likes its new home…

Coombe Leigh

 And the collection of Bustle & Sew softies are waiting for a shelf to sit on – hopefully I’ll be able to sort them out in the next few days.  On the noticeboard you can see a collection of lovely illustrations by my friend Jacqui of FlapdoodleDesigns.  Some were for my “Simple Stitchery” free e-book – if you don’t already have it you can download it from the right-hand sidebar – and some are for my upcoming “Handstitched Christmas” collection – it’s all finished and will be published next month in time for “Christmas in July”.

Christmas Collection

  I felt very hot and dusty after moving everything around, so I rewarded myself with a deckchair in the garden, a lovely iced lemonade and some fresh-picked flowers to make the perfect finishing touch to round off all my hard work….

Coombe Leigh

 And don’t forget – I’ll be sending out my Stripey Fishes pattern tomorrow – so if you’re not already a newsletter reader and would like to receive it – all you need to do is join using the form in the right-hand sidebar – it’s free and I never share your details with anyone else.

Stripey Fishes