So after my last post on my Janome Coverpro Coverstitch machine, I had a few of you ask what serger I own. So I thought, “hey! I need to do a post on sergers and the one I have.” It’s actually sad that I didn’t do a post about it when I got it, but I had some guilt issues that I’m totally over now. Anyway, let’s talk sergers, shall we?
I am of the opinion that everyone should just go get a serger. Yup. I lived without one for way too long and I was completely in the dark as to how much they cost and how much they really are worth to a garment sewer. Sergers just make life easier and believe me when I tell you, I am not kidding. Since I’m a Thread’s Insider (seriously, just go get a membership now!) I have access to all of Louise Cutting’s Industry Insider Technique videos – this is totally worth the membership by the way, Louise is a GENIUS! I love her! Anyway, I remember in one of the videos she says something to the effect of how great and easy it is to use a serger and how no sewer should really be without one because the days of finishing seam allowances without one are over. I agree 1,000,000%! I finish seam allowances with my serger nearly 100% of the time now (occasionally I’ll do a french seam on linings, but otherwise, I’m a serger girl).
So let’s talk about what I was never able to seem to find out before I just went out and bought my serger a few years back. You can get a decent serger for fairly inexpensive these days. Mine was a whopping $275. Yup. You can drop your jaw too if you’ve been thinking that sergers will cost you an arm and a leg and you have to give up your firstborn for one. You can and should be able to purchase a decent serger for something in the $300 – $500 range. My sewing machine was considerably more than that, so when I found out that sergers weren’t all that expensive I kept wondering why I had waited so long.
Then I went out and purchased the Babylock Lauren. It’s the entry level Babylock serger. Now, I’m not going to say that this is the serger for you, but I’m happy with it. It finishes my seam allowances like a champ. Sometimes we have small issues going over bulky areas, but for the most part its fine. Its actually one of the easier ones to thread and I say that having threaded many sergers for students and threaded the ones at Yellow Bird Fabrics a few times. It has a pretty good narrow hem on it that I use from time to time to finish a lining hem. It’s got four threads, differential feed and you know, that’s pretty much it. With sergers you can get crazy and spend money on a really really nice one (like the Babylocks that thread themselves….sigh….) but the end game is pretty much the same – it finishes your seam allowances so that you can spend your time perfecting other sewing techniques. And when it comes to seam allowances, a serger really really does save you time. The daunting task of finishing seam allowances all of a sudden is not daunting anymore. It reduces time spent doing that to like 1/4 of the time you would spend finishing those silly seam allowances. In fact, I remember the times before I had a serger and I would wander around in a fog just thinking about how long it was going to take me to finish the seam allowances on any garment. Now I don’t even think about it. I just do it and its done.
So, when I first purchased my serger, immediately after I had done the deed and paid the money, I was reading a certain blog (which I’ll not name, but held in very high regard at the time) that went into great detail about how even though they had sergers on their premises that they were “rarely used” because they were totally into finishing their seams the old fashioned way. And it wasn’t just one blog post, it was like several blog posts where they kept mentioning that and their sort of “higher ground” for not being in the serger crowd. So then I had instant buyer’s remorse for being one of those that invested in a serger and every time I went to serge a seam I would feel instant guilt because I wasn’t doing it the “higher ground” way.
Friends, this is BOGUS! Look, I totally understand if you don’t have the money to invest in a serger right now – I empathize. Just know that there are entry level model sergers that do the job just fine, so maybe you won’t have to save up quite as much money as you were thinking. Otherwise, serging just makes life easier. Thank you – I’m a “lower ground” sewer and I’m proud to admit it!
What are your thoughts on sergers? Been saving up thinking that sergers are going to cost you thousands of dollars? Are you a “lower ground” sewer?
Happy Summer Everyone! Ok, well maybe not all of you are experiencing summer like I am (its already hot and tottie here!) but Happy Summer anyway. I know its been pretty silent around here. I’ve been pretty bogged down with other things and blogging got pushed to the side for a bit. The shop has been hopping (yay!) and I’ve been teaching quite a bit and crazy enough I’ve been sewing a crap load too. Just haven’t had time to say much about it. Sometimes that’s the way things get around here and that’s good, but I start missing out on showing you fun techniques and sewing projects and all that jazz.
In addition to all the craziness that’s been going on around here, I decided to purchase a coverstitch machine. I’ve had my eye on procuring one for quite some time and I was finally able to treat myself to one and goodness gracious, let me tell you – I’m a convert. If you are unaware, this machine’s main function is for hemming knitwear. It does that whole double needle thing with what looks like a serged edge on the other side. It does more than just hemming, but yes, this is the sole purpose for why I really wanted one.
I had my eye on the Brother coverstitch machine – I was totally swayed by Elizabeth’s love for her coverstitch – and the Janome Coverpro. After reading Andrea’s take on the Janome, I opted to go for this little machine. The free arm and “Wow, it actually looks like a sewing machine, look at all that room on the right hand side of the machine” thing is what finally sealed the deal. I purchased the lower end newer version of the one Andrea has (the 900CPX rather than the 1000CP) and I’m totally thrilled with it. Mine is only capable of a double needle function (the Janome 1000CP and CPX have a triple needle function, but after much thought I didn’t really think this was something I would use) and I’m not able to move the needle for narrower or wider needle widths. I’m totally fine with this.
I decided not to go into a full-on review of this machine since I think Andrea did a first rate job of that here and if you were ever interested in purchasing a coverstitch machine, you should definitely hop on over to her blog and have a gander at what she has to say. Like Andrea, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money for one of the higher end models, but I still feel like I got a great deal for the money I did spend.
Additionally, I would like to state that I think coverstitch machines are a good investment only if you a) work with knits quite a bit and b) are completely dissatisfied with the hemming methods that your sewing machine can do. The more and more that I’ve come to work with knits, the more and more dissatisfied I was becoming with the hemming methods that work around not having a coverstitch, ie: twin needle hemming (mine always tunnels something awful and I always end up breaking the bobbin thread when I put the garment on, uggh!), blind hem stitching (one that I’ve become more attached to, but was still somewhat dissatisfied with) and finally self fabric or rib knit bands (my favorite of the three, but this method doesn’t translate to every style very well). I think its also worth stating that this machine doesn’t just magically work and not everything you do turns out perfectly. Like any other machine, it takes some getting used to and you’ll still have to invest in a few extra pieces for it to be able to do certain things better. Also, there are sergers out there that have a coverstitch function. I thought about going this route too, but ultimately, I LOATHE entirely changing settings and feet and needle plates and blah blah blah on my serger as it is and would rather
smother myself with a pillow just have a separate coverstitch machine – though I know that not everyone feels this way so just do your homework if you ever plan to invest in one (PS ~ from what I’ve read, coverstitch machines are MUCH easier to thread than sergers, my own coverstitch being a complete cinch to thread).
Thoughts on coverstitch machines? Thoughts on hemming methods for knitwear?
I find that meeting people who share your passion wonderful. Meeting someone who shares your passion, has sewn practically everything, lives by you and is supportive of you is pretty much a needle in a haystack. But I’m here to say that it happens. I have a friend and mentor that is an insanely amazing woman. Leena has been around the sewing block. Lately when I’ve sewn something, I show her or I plan projects and get her input. I like getting her input because she gives me ideas for how to do this or that differently or maybe try this sewing technique or gives me her thoughts on color choice and style.
Leena is one of those types of people that would literally give you the shirt off her back if you needed it or probably if you didn’t need it too. She’s given me a TON of fabric from her amazing stash and then one day, she invited me over to pick out yarns because she wanted to weave me some fabric too. I know, I know! This is crazy, but yeah, these photos are of some fabric that she wove for me. Like on a loom with her bare hands and all. I really have no concept of how to weave fabric except to say that its pretty much magical and this is pretty much one of the nicest, most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever given me. Amazing, right?
I feel pretty spoiled and am quickly brainstorming a jacket to make out of it. Chanel style, cardigan jacket I think. What do you think? Do you have a sewing mentor in your life?
I know I’ve promised a lot of stuff lately and I’m still planning to deliver, but as I juggle several balls at the moment, I’ve been simply aching to tackle the Robson Trench. Tasia does it again! I swear this girl is building a wardrobe of patterns for the Everyday Wardrobe. Everyday wearable, chic, classic, feminine patterns. And since its been unusually cold here in Utah lately, but yet not cold enough to warrant a full on winter coat, you could say that I’m in dire need of a coat like this.
So the Robson is on my sewing table at the moment. I went to the 40% off sale at Designer’s Resource (another local fabric store that specializes in home dec) and scored a pretty fabulous charcoal grey super fine wool. Its a suiting weight and seriously, the perfect color for a trench. Am I right? Woot, woot! I’ve got buttons coming and I’ve decided to line my version (I plan to show a tutorial on this) and I’ll show you my progress as I work on this coat. I expect it will be a fairly quick sew because I’ve sewn several jackets lately – so many jackets! I think I could make a jacket in my sleep at this point! Ha!
What’s on your sewing table this weekend? Any plans for a Robson in your future?
Today I thought I would tell you about some of the uses that I use fusible web for. Don’t know what fusible web is? Check out my last post here. First I’ll go over quickly how to use it, that way, if you’re still on the fence you can get a visual for what I’m talking about here.
Here’s a small fabric sample that I’m creating a hem on. I’ve turned the raw edge up 1/2″ and from there I’m going to turn it up a full inch meaning that my hem allowance in this case was 1 1/2″.
Apply the fusible web with the webby side down on the fabric. For some webs you’ll steam or iron it in place and for some, like the Wonder Tape, you just stick it on there and push it down. For my sample here, I’ve turned the 1″ portion of my hem allowance back and I’m applying it to the inside of what will become my hem.
Once you have the web in the place you want it, lift up the paper. For the Wonder Tape, this might be a bit tricky but just separate it carefully at the top and away you can go.
Now stick the remaining adhesive side to something else. In this case, I’m just turning up the hem that 1 inch and sticking it to the other side. Keep in mind though that this can be helpful for zippers, trims and other such things. You’ll press with steam in the place with your iron and then from there permanently stitch in place. Remember the fusible web is just a temporary baster. It keeps things from shifting about and makes sewing certain things together easier. The final step is permanently stitching whatever you’ve temporarily basted. Also, you can purchase my favorite fusible webs here in my shop!
So, what are some other applications that you might use this stuff in? I’ve just shown a hemline here and zippers which you can see in my Craftsy class. Some other places to consider is matching plaids and patterns on fabric. Instead of hand basting these sections, try the fusible web instead. One of my favorite places to use this is in the collar stand area on a classic button up shirt – in fact I’ll show this one in an upcoming tutorial. Easy peasy! Another favorite application: Whenever I have to stitch in the ditch, like in the case of a skirt or pant waistband, I put this stuff down on the inside/facing first and then go about stitching in the ditch. Prevents rippling, pulling, puckers and distortion. So much easier! I also used it in the neckline binding of my wrap dress version from the 2-in-1 sewalong.
Ready to give fusible web a try? If you use it, what are some things that you use it in?