Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How I love my serger - Let me count the ways: One, two, three threads...

Well, I am working away on the doublet for my hubby.  Its coming along, but I refuse to even take pics of it because it is so far from complete.  There are so many small steps to everything, like pressing, serging, turning, hand stitching, pounding eyelets, etc...  Will I ever finish?

So I am taking a quick moment instead to say how much I love my serger.  I have a Huskylock that my grandmother gave me.  Meaning its really nice and barely used.  She complained that she was too old to learn how to use something new.  haha.  So not true, Nana, but I am loving the new (to me) toy!

Assuming you don't know what a serger is, it is a machine that simultaneously trims a seam as it sews over the edge to prevent fraying.  This does double duty at cleaning up the garment - no more bulky seam allowances and no more fraying!  If you have done a zig zag stitch, the serged stitch looks similar, only it is done with 3 or 4 threads instead of only 2, and they wrap over themselves on the edge to really bind it up.  The down side is, sergers are a PAIN to thread, and since they require at least 3 large cones of thread to work, they take a separate thread inventory and much longer to switch colors from project to project.

Random tip:  You can quickly change the thread on a serger by cutting the old thread very close to the spool and tying the new thread to the old thread using a square knot.  Once you have tied all three threads to their new counterpart, run the machine SLOWLY using the foot pedal.  Watch the knot from the needle thread and do NOT let the knot run through the eye of the needle unless you want to buy a new needle! (it will break the needle or at the very least, bend it out of usability)  Once the needle thread knot gets close to the eye of the needle, snip it out and thread the eye of the needle with the new thread by hand.  The upper and lower looper thread will be fine running the knot through it, so don't worry about them.  An alternative to watching the needle thread like a hawk is to just knot the looper threads and rethread the needle by hand as it is MUCH simpler than the other two.

So, the plus to having a serger is that all those seams that fray and ruin your outfit after a few washings or itch and rub on you, or that you feel you have to french seam are dealt with.  Most ready to wear items (stuff you buy in a store) have serged seams, and it really does help with the durability of the garment.  Some people skip machine sewing altogether and go straight to the serger when constructing something.  I, however, make just enough mistakes to make this a very bad idea.  I like the option of tearing out what I just did, so I machine sew and then clean up the seam with a serged edge.  I don't have 3 cones of serger thread in many color varieties, so I find myself using white or black thread most of the time, which is fine since the seams are on the inside anyway.  Its a good cheat :-)

But finishing seams is not the only trick sergers are good for!  A serged seam in a contrasting color of thread can be great decoration, they can be a quick way to finish hemmed edges on shirts, skirts, and knit items (very trendy in RTW right now) without actually hemming, or a fast way to make cloth napkins or curtains and the like.  Having a folded, finished hem is not always necessary, and having a pink edge on a white tee can be super cute, so feel free to play with the possibilities!

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