Thursday, 3 December 2015

Taking your needle out and NOT losing it!

If you're anything like me, when you change from 4 thread to 3 thread you take the needle out and promptly lose it. This means every time you change from 3 thread to 4 thread you have to get out a new needle. 

My Frister and Rossman machine has its own handy in built needle storage place,  but most machines don't.
In the front fold down section of my F&R

If your machine does not come with its own anti-needle-losing device, try this simple trick. Cut a small approx 2-3" square of thick fabric like a fleece that will be difficult for your needle to slip out of. Put a tiny hole in the middle and slip it over your rightmost / lower looper spool. 

When you take a needle out pop it into your needle holder and voila!  When you go back to 4 thread you'll know exactly where to find your needle.

And the best thing about this, you can pop your spool on top and it won't affect the functionality of your machine at all.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

TECHNIQUE: Gathering

Threads: Can be done with 3 threads with either needle, or 4 if you want a really strong gather
Tension: Normal
Stitch Length: 4-5 or as high as possible
Differential Feed: 2 or as high as possible.
Knife: Usually engaged but can be disengaged if needed

My thread length dial at the front on 5 and differential feed at the back on 2

When to Use: 

Any item that you want to overedge and give a strong gather to at the same time. Especially useful for long straight seams such as gathered skirt waistband and any sort of frill on a dress or cushion.


I don't understand why this technique isn't more widely known. I much prefer it to a sewing machine gathering when even the most experienced sewer can run into issues with lining up the gathering stitch perfectly between a raw edge and the seam line. We've all had that moment where gathers run out below the seam allowance to the finished edge of the fabric and you have to unpick it. Or worse the gathering stitch snaps or comes loose at the edges because its designed to be a loose, impermanent stitch.

In the right situation this trims, overedges, keeps your gathering stitch away from the stitching line and gives a much smoother, easier to manage gather

Eureka Moment:

This technique does 2 very important things. 
  1. It shows in a very practical way just what a differential feed does. Yep, this is entire purpose of a high differential feed, to gather the fabric up. Knowing this tecnhique will help you understand how to adjust your differential feed to get a perfect tension when sewing those pesky jersey fabrics
  2. The other thing this tecnhique does it help to understand the difference between a needle and a looper thread. This shows you that the needle threads on your overlocker really aren't all that different than the needle threads on your sewing machine


Adjust your settings as above and stitch as normal, cuttting off whatever you require.

The fabric is starting to gather on its own already

Separate your needle thread/s (Mine are the green and yellow ones) at the start of the seam. 

My big fingers find this easier with the help of a needle or pin.

Pull on the needle thread/s as you would a normal sewing machine thread to gather the fabric to the required amount

That's it. Done. Wasn't that easy!!!!

Real World Example:

Here's a pink skirt that I gathered up in a 3 thread gather. I chose to do 3 thread because it's a fully lined dress so I didn't want as much bulk on the seam.  It's exactly the same but you need to be careful identifying the needle thread

This is a duchess satin so quite thick but it sill works
Always identify from the needle thread from the right / top side of the fabric.Its the one that forms the straight seam line

You man lose a couple of stitches at the start. Don't panic, that's ok

My fully gathered skirt

And the fully gathered lining
And the skirt attached.

Tips for Advanced Players:

  • If you are not bagging out your lining you can join and gather the top and bottom layers together in one move.
  • There is a gathering foot that deserves it's own post, but suffice to say it exists and it is wonderful because it can join the gather and join the skirt to the flat bodice in one step. The downside is that I am yet to work out how to control the amount of gather when using the foot. This way has much more finesse.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Why does this blog exist?

I teach overlocker (that's serger to our American friends) classes to the ladies of the Women's Institute. I've been sewing for years, and it's occured to me that in spite of the revival in sewing and the long term existence of overlockers, people are still, on the whole, terrified of them.

You buy an overlocker because everyone tells you it's the next step in sewing, you use it once or twice until you have to change the thread colour, and then it sits on your sewing table for months, if not years, gathering dust and taunting you. If you're really lucky you can put it back in its box in the back of the cupboard where it's tiny cries, craftily calculated to make you feel guilt towards your expensive and unloved purchase, can be ignored.

I use my overlocker regularly, but strictly in a change the thread colour to finish off the seams, kind of basic way.  It was only I was asked to be a last minute substitute teacher for an overlocking class that I really started to think of it in a different way. There is so much unharnessed potential in this little machine.

I know serger crafts are not a totally new idea, but they often involve some horribly ugly swing coat with "decorative" detail aimed a woman of a certain age and questionable taste. With the revival of sewing I want to take that a step further and encourage a new revival of the overlocker.

So here's my plan: To go where no woman has gone before and see how far I can push my overlocker to be useful. I freely admit now that some attempts would be better not to see the light of day, and some will be complicated, But I'm aiming to make projects that use a minimum of 80% sewing done on the overlocker, and see what I can discover. And if this blog inspires one or two of you to use your overlocker in a new way, then I'm happy.