More on Using a Serger

If this blog peaks your curiosity, please don’t give up on me. My blog entries will become more regular beginning NOW.

I believe that my last blog entry was deceitful. I have still been afraid of my serger. Like it or not, there is a learning curve that I think I’ve just about overcome.

I now see that my serger is distinctly different from my regular sewing machine.The sewing area of the serger–including the presser foot, the feed dog, and the markings used to line up the fabric–is distinctly different from that of my Kenmore computerized sewing machine:

  1. Fabric can not be placed directly underneath the presser foot. It must be placed in front of the presser foot, barely underneath the front of it, where the feed dog grabs the fabric and pulls it along.
  2. There are no margin markings to the side of the presser foot; margin markings are toward the front.
  3. Moving the threads away from the presser foot may require the use of tweezers.
Getting the fabric ready to sew feels awkward at best. Experience with a regular sewing machine almost makes serging more confusing. Nevertheless, here is my latest stitch. This is a three-thead narrow overlock stitch done with two lower loopers and one needle thread.
I think that having support with the serger makes using it much more enjoyable. Since I cannot buy a serger in my town or take a class in my town, I joined a couple of online support groups for those with sergers. I have been studying (the serger book) and practicing some of the suggestions in the book. At some point a light went on, and I think I understand the inside workings of the serger.
In spite of my small successes, I decided to invest in a serger that is manufactured by a company who specializes in sewing machines. I am now the proud owner of a Babylock Imagine BLA1AT.
Although I have vast sewing experience, I have shied away from working with knits. Because I want to be able to make my American Girl tights, pajamas, t-shirts and other stretch garments, I am determined to finally master a machine that will assist me.
More about Babylock in my next blog.
DO_Swirly Flower

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Serger

Perhaps my relationship with my serger will offer some insight to someone else: I bought mine a few months ago, and until last week, it served as a stylish metal sculpture, decorating my sewing room table. Because I wanted to move forward with my doll clothes design business, I didn’t want to take the time to learn my serger; so there it sat.

I have spent so much time trying to make the inside of my garments pretty with my regular sewing machine. I simply don’t want my name attached to something sloppy.

After bumping “learn serger” from my TO DO list several times, I made a commitment to be mature about this wonderful machine that I’d yearned for. When I read the threading directions, I fell asleep. Fortunately, my Brother 1034D came with two instructional videos. I was serious about learning, so I turned off the TV and my iPod. I closed my window shades and put my telephones in another room. No distractions.

But what happened? While watching the video on learning to thread, I kept nodding off.
B-O-R-I-N-G. Geez, this was painful.

Fortunately, I’m a resourceful person, especially when it comes to getting sidetracked and goofing off. I thought I’d do better with sewing lessons. If I could find a real person, a warm body, demonstrating how to thread the machine and watching me thread the machine, I’d have better luck. Unfortunately, I found no sewing classes in town or even nearby. We have a Michael’s. No Joann’s. I found a local woman who teaches children how to sew. I sent her an email, asking her if she taught serging. Or did she have any recommendations for me?

No response. The good news is that once I get the serger figured out, there is probably a demand for a local sewing (and serging) instructor, if my doll clothes pattern business doesn’t fly.

Finally, some light at the end of the tunnel: I went to YouTube, looking for better instructions, and I found a woman who posts as “ArtistKae,” with updated instructions for the Brother 1034D. While listening to her describe her relationship with her serger, I realized that my “sergerphobia” was common indeed. She had also been frustrated with the Brother instruction booklet. After watching her video, I realized that I was only confused about one small part of the procedure, and she cleared up the fuzziness for me.

If you are having trouble threading your serger, I suggest searching the internet, especially YouTube, to find up-to-date instructions on your exact serger model. Then consider these thoughts:

1. The serger uses two needles and two loopers. The thread from the loopers is not part of the actual seam. These two spools stitch the outside of the seam. Understanding how the machine actually works helps to make sense out of threading it.
2. Most of the actual threading is easy. Only one of the loopers is confusing, and it’s only one of the steps of that particular looper that creates confusion. In other words, out of 30 or so threading steps, only one step is confusing.
3. The looper compartment is difficult to see for someone with old lady vision. Once I realized that my vision was contributing to the “fuzziness” of my brain, I looked at the compartment through a magnified class to get a clear view of what ArtistKae was describing. Once I got a clear view, I didn’t need the magnifying glass.
4. Threading a serger is awkward. I have two left hands while threading my machine (apologies to my two sisters who are “lefties”). Pulling the thread through the needles and loopers feels especially strange during the last step. All threads must flow in the same direction, underneath the feed dog to the left. Long tweezers are helpful here.
5. Last of all, you can put pedal to the metal and off you go, even if there’s no fabric between the presser foot and the feed dog. The serger doesn’t tangle like a regular sewing machine with a bobbin.

Here’s my first attampt at stitching. Kinda pretty, isn’t it?

But I still need to make adjustments. This stitch is a bit wide. I ordered a book that will help me adjust the tension nobs, and the width and lengths of the stitches. I’m determined to MASTER this machine. My goal is to be able to actually sew several doll garments in one afternoon so that I can spend my time designing clothes. (To be continued….)

DO_Swirly Leaf