Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Been shopping for the Holidays

I have been shopping and wrapping for the holidays!
Today I taught a class at the Nursing Home. Fleece quilts (throws). I cut strips and they weaved the strips into pre-cut slices. The one I completed at home - I edged with my serger using jeans stitch thread in the upper looper. I lengthened the stitch to 3 and it made a beautiful edge. For the residents at the NH I had them use yarn to tie - retro style tying quilts. They loved them.

Sadly I did not have enough quilts for everyone. :-( The group is growing and I need to add another day. :-)

Sharing is caring.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

EZ Shawl2 - changed my mind

The graphic I have offset the two smaller pieces so you could see where they should be placed. Then you could see how they are folded down and either tied in knots or just left as fringe.

I changed my mind at the last minute. I cut the (width of the fabric) 58" x 16". Then I cut two small piece 16" x 6". Sandwiched the long piece between the two short pieces on the end of long piece. Serged across and then folded down the short ends. Then I sliced the two pieces so I could tie them in knots. One lady made hers without tying them in knots - just left it as fringe. They turned out great.

The original idea sounded pretty good, but was too difficult for my ladies at the Nursing Home to get the idea. This was easy and some of the shorter pieces I used different colors and it looked snazzy!!!

There are some really great books on fleece - for making jackets, vests, shawls, hats, mittens and lots of other neet stuff too.

Since I have been sewing for 47 years - I have accummulated quite a library. :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ez Shawl

To make a shawl in a flash here is how I plan to do it.

Cut a strip of fleece 2 yards by about 14" - 16" (haven't decided yet). Fold in the bottom pieces to form a triangle. Then serge the short ends to sort of form a cone shape. Then using a sewing machine stitch down th sides of the new pocket on the right side to hold the pocket shape.

Other idea....from cotton cut a folded piece and put it on the bottom short end. Fold all pieces to form a triangle and serge the short ends together to form the pocket. Again you can stitch down the sides of the pocket to hold it's shape.

This is one of the projects I plan to do for the Nursing Home Crafters Club this month. I will take pictures and let you know how they tunerd out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Miss you........

Oh my goodness, it has been so long since I have written anything on my blog. I didn't forget, I have just been working my day job and loving every minute of it.
Winter is here in the North - frost has been on the pumpkin and I am wearing my flannel robe. It is one that I made years ago with my serger and my trusty sewing machine. It has (the fabric) toasters, fried eggs, alarm clocks, cups of coffee etc on it. I love it. I bought the fabric when I was shopping with my BFF Alice.

Well now to write something of value for all of you.
Remeber when I wrote the instructions for a round table cloth - well how about making it reversible for the holidays. Thanksgiving on one side and Christmas on the other? Yes I made one and I still put it on my table for the holidays. Of course I didn't know then how to make it easy, do now!

Some other ideas are Christmas stockings made with the serger. I am sure you can find a pattern for the base of the sock but the fun part is always putting the white cuff on. So I put it inside the stocking, serge all around the top and then flip it over and it looks GREAT! About serging the cuff, you can notch to start or just ease on and serge off - both techniques work just fine.

Then there is the famous serger tree skirt. I have to tell you one of my favorite notions is my yardstick compass (for making circles). I have made numerous tree skirts for myself, family and friends using that sweet notion. I make a large circle with it, smaller circle in the center then draw lines across the center. Next on ONE piece add about 1/2" seam allowance on both long sides.
Use it as a pattern to cut the fabric. THEN I flatlock the pieces together. Finally I put the decorative thread in both looper and use a 4 thread overlock stitch and edge the center curve and the outside curve. Believe it or not, it doesn't take very long to complete one. (You can use the curved outter edge or cut it any shape you like.) Here are a few graphics to spark your imagination. :-)

Maybe Saturday or Sunday I will put some ideas on the blog on how to make a basket - lickety split.

Have a wonderful weekend, and use your serger to share the love!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun with a 5 Thread

Using the chainstitch on the five thread with decorative thread in the chain looper can open a whole new world for U.

On the wrong side of the fabric you can draw a design using a blue water erasable fabric marking pen. It is recommended if using cotton that you adhere it to a stabilizer in preparation for this technique. If it is paper backed then you can most likely use a regular ink pen and ruler. (When complete, if possible remove the stabilizer.)

This is a fun technique for embellishing pillow cases, pillow covers, wall hangings or lap robes (mini-quilts). I have used this technique for embellishing ready to wear garments also.

For beginners - you may want to start with drawing straight lines.
For fun use different color threads in the chain looper for each line. (Yes you have to re-thread the looper, and remember to remove the thread form the eye of the needle when you re-thread to avoid issues of knotting.)

Check your manual for tension settings - I used stitch length 3 and tightened the needle thread just a little to create a seed looking stitch.

SPECIAL NOTE - to end and lock the stitch - lift the presser foot, sweep the needle thread towards you, clip thread leaving about 3" and then pull the fabric (garment) to the rear of the machine or away from you. This will result in the needle thread going to the back and forming a knot.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Holiday Wreaths

Along the same lines as making the picture frames - you can easily make a Holiday wreath using the same technique.

Using a Styrofoam wreath form, measure the circumference of the tube, then add about 3". this will allow for the seam allowance and shirring onto the tube. Cut two strips the width of the fabric (44"-45") by the previous measurement.

For example the circumference is 10", so you would cut two strips 13" x 45". Serge the short ends together to make the tube approximately 90" long. (You may want to turn the short ends under before you start to serge the long side.)

Set up the serger for a rolled hem or a 3 thread decorative edge. (For the rolled hem you may want to use Wooly Nylon thread. For the decorative edge you may want to use Candlelight thread in both loopers.)

With WRONG sides together fold the long strip in half lengthwise and serge down the long raw edge.

If the Styrofoam wreath does not have a cut for shirring on the fabric - cut one.

Now shirr the fabric onto the tube. Glue the cut Styrofoam section in place.

Once the fabric is on the wreath you may want to add poinsettias, bells, bows or any embellishment you like.

These make great Holiday gift ideas!!

For ideas - just put "Christmas Wreath using Fabric" in your search engine. There were several super ideas! I was reluctant to post a pic from another website - there were just so many cool ideas - please go look around!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

picture frames for hanging

Here is a graphic - I will post pictures later today.

This week at the nursing home I taught picture frames. Usually they are done on the serger - quick and easy. But for them it had to be on a sewing machine.

I love these because I make them in all shapes..circles, hearts, cathedral, square and rectangle. It is so easy to make the templates. For the square - trace a square shape on a piece of poster board or card board. Next trace it again on another piece of poster board. But on the second one - measure and trace a line about an 1" in from the outside line. Round all corners. Cut out the middle and now you have the front and the solid piece is the back. Cover the back with a piece of fabric and use a hand sewing needle and thread and do a running stitch to pull it around the shape.
Now cut a strip of fabric about 4" x 45" or width of fabric.
With WRONG sides together fold in half lengthwise.
Set up the serger for a rolled hem. Just skim the edge, don't cut too much off.
Rolled hem down the long side - not the short ends.
Cut a slash in the side of the front piece of poster board. Now shirr the tube fabric onto the front section.

Place a piece of ribbon on back (for hanging on the wall) of the solid piece and glue the short ends of the ribbon to where the running stitch is hold the fabric to the back.

Arrange the picture between the tubed piece and the back and secure with lots of fabric tack glue.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pillowcase Dress

Here is a photo of the dress my BFF Sandy made for a class she was teaching. I have not made one yet. I will make mine with two shoulder straps - just to be different.

There have been so many requests for a photo that I finally did the search and got it. Enjoy!!!

ps - I know the weather is changing for those of us in the North - but you Southern Belles - the sun is always shining for U.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sew News Article

My article about serger problems is in the Sep/Oct issue of Sew News!

Correction - they referenced the wrong graphic for #7 and #9 they should be reversed.

BUT ANYWAY - I AM IN SEW NEWS! If you get a chance pick up a copy and take a look!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cute little project

I am working my day job and assisting people with their sergers..of course. For one of my demonstrations I make a quick little serger purse. I have made it many ways but today I had to think a little quicker so now it has a different twist.

This is a great gift idea for little girls or lovely ladies.

Cut 2 pieces of fabric 6" x 9" and a piece of 1" ribbon about 30" long. (may use longer if you like - always test first.)

Take one of the 6" x 9" pieces of fabric and fold in half to yield 6" x 4 1/2". Using your fingers make a crease.

Now take one end of the ribbon and with raw edges together place it on the crease. (If you like you can secure with gluesitck).

Using a 4 thread overlock stitch - Place the fabric pieces with right sides together and the one end of the ribbon laying flat on the crease - serge down the long side (that has the ribbon end).

Now place the other raw end of the ribbon on the other long side where the crease is. You may want to secure the ribbon and make sure the long loop of the ribbon is away from the long raw edge.

Serge down the opposite long side.

Turn right side out. Fold where the ribbon is sticking out (this is the strap). Depending on what side you want facing out turn again if desired.

Now serge across the bottom catching all four piece of fabric. Turn right side out and you have a cute little purse. Either for wearing around the neck or over the shoulder.

When I have featured it before it was called a pocket on a string. But you can do so many things with this cute little purse...embroidery, applique,couching, quilt squares and so on and so on. I may have posted this before but it is worth posting again. The little girls that I made it for today just loved it and I made them out of scraps of fabric that I had in a bin. The biggest hit was a scrap I had of Princess fabric, Dora the Explorer and of course frogs. I had such a wonderful time!!!!

Takes about 10 minutes to make. Have Fun!!

You will surely put a big smile on a little girls face.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Serger Needles

It is very important to check your manual for the correct sizes and type of needle recommended for your serger. I do not suggest using sewing machine needles for your serger - EVER!!!

Some sergers require an ELx705 type needle. This is a special type and should not be substituted for any other needle type. Some Singer sergers require Singer ONLY needles. They are a different size and type and machine specific.

I have been asked that when working with knits etc. type fabric - should you use a ballpoint needle. If your serger manual indicates that there are Ballpoint needles available - then ok.

Some Pfaff sergers use schmetz needles and they do have ballpoint.


If that information is not listed in your manual - go to the website for your serger and surf for information. Most websites have a FAQ section and you can ask an expert.

Change the needles often. Usually after a project is completed I change the needles. But if I am making a table runner and napkins - I finish what I am working on completely before I change the needles. They are cheaper than having the machine serviced. A bent needle can damage the loopers. They are very expensive to replace (which includes a labor cost). Burrs on the needles which the naked eye can't see can cause runs in the fabric or skipped stitches. If you run a section of pantyhose on the needle(s) and it catches - STOP and change the needles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Threading the Loopers

I get a lot of comments about how people are feared of threading the lower looper. Of course once you do it a few times you really get the hang of it.

First of all RELAX, then look at the colored thread guides. Because the looper looks left handed it seems strange or awkward. Actually if you at first go slow and follow the sequence of the guides as indicated in the manual it gets easier. Do it a few times before you move on to the next position.

Some sergers you thread the lower looper first, some the upper looper first. Never have the needles threaded FIRST! They are last for all 4 thread sergers. Reason being is that they form stitches as soon as the serger is in motion. (Just turning the handwheel will get them started.)

You will know that the loopers are thread correctly if the lower looper thread slides off the point of the upper looper smoothly as you turn the handwheel. (The lower looper slides off the "V" part or neck of the upper looper.)

If you have trouble threading the lower looper you can use a floss threader (earlier post) or a serger threader (notion available at sewing machine stores)to easily reach some of the thread guides.

This will be one of the first videos that I will be posting in the near future. But if you need help - please let me know.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Elastic for Ironing Board Cover

I have received several inquiries as to how much (length) elastic is needed for the ironing board cover. Since not all ironing boards are the exact same size it is difficult to say.

If you purchase a hank of elastic (packaged bundle) that is more than enough. Just feed the elastic through as instructed in an earlier post and whatever is left over - use for making scrungies or other fun things.

If I were to guess - I would say about 3/4 the circumference of the ironing board over. But that would not be an exact measurement. A lot depends on if you are using an elastic gathering attachment, what settings you are using, what type fabric, etc.

So, like I said there is no way to say for sure how much elastic. In the past I have used the elastic off of a spool of bathing suit elastic that I purchased. I hold it on my lap and feed it and when I am done - just cut off the end.

Hope this helps.

Friday, August 13, 2010



Hopefully this diagram will help you determine which knob is for the stitch length and which one is for the differential feed. Hint - Stitch length is usually in whole numbers. Differential feed is usually indicated with a decimal point. 1.0, 0.5 etc.

Looking at the graphic near the knob also helps to determine which is which.

5 Thread sergers- loopers?


A five thread serger has 3 different loopers.
1. Upper looper - looks like it has its nose in the air. Depending on the brand of serger it may be threaded first - check your manual for threading sequence. The thread from the upper looper lays on the right side of the fabric or top. You can see the stitches formed as you are serging. Often times decorative thread is used in this looper for the "WOW" factor.
2. Lower looper - often feared for no reason. It looks like it is left-handed with the elbow bent. At times decorative thread is used in this looper for home dec projects. You can see the stitch formed on the underside - looks like a "Y". Also, this looper is the one that is used for achieving the perfect rolled hem. It can be tightened to pull the other threads into position.
3. Chain looper - It looks like the lower looper but appears like a right handed elbow bent. This looper is used for 5 thread applications, coverstitch, chain stitch etc. When in use the serger requires a different looper cover (table). This looper forms the stitch on the underside of the fabric. Some call it the locking stitch for coverhems. Depending on how many needles are in use, a different stitch will be formed on the underside of the fabric. On the right side of the fabric (top) it will look like stitches done on a conventional sewing machine. So, sometimes you will serge with the fabric wrong side up so that the formed stitch is on the right side of the fabric. (Not easy to explain.)
Depending on the brand of serger it may be threaded last. Always check your manual for threading sequence.

Thread BREAK (4 thread)- if you want to re-thread only the looper thread that broke - it requires patience. First remove the threads from the eyes of the needles. They love to tango with the looper threads underneath- where you can't see what they are doing. After you have re-threaded the looper, then make sure that the lower looper thread is sliding off the upper looper without forming a knot. You can do this by turning the handwheel to check. If ok then re-thread the eyes of the needles. But test on scrap fabric first - you will be glad you did.

Thread BREAK (5 thread) - remove the thread from the eyes of the needles if you are re-threading the looper. They love to Tango TOO. Then thread the looper and then put the needle threads back in the eyes of the needles. Here's looking at you!

NOTE - for testing tension for different stitches - you can put different color threads in the different positions. Use the same color as is on the serger for best results. It goes without saying you should use the same weight thread that you will be using for your project. :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tapestry Fabrics - Garments

A long time ago and far far away I used to work a lot with tapestry fabrics. Today I stopped by a fabric store that specializes in Tapestry Fabric and had a wonderful time looking at and touching the different fabrics.

Way back when - I would make skirts and vests out of tapestry fabric. The prints and the look was just marvelous!! The fabric was easy to work with especially on the serger. AND it held up extremely well after several wearings. The only down side was it needed to be dry cleaned or hand washed.

Thoughts whirled in my head about going down that road again - but no vest - just skirts and perhaps a jacket.

I know this fabric is best for home dec projects - but go look at some of the tapestry (upholstery) fabric and give it some thought. Not meant for childrens clothes - adults only.

And it doesn't wrinkle when you sit down...more good news!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Making banded hems for Pillowcases

When you want to use only the serger to make Pillowcases - it is easy and super quick.

Take an old Pillowcase and use as a pattern. Since there are 3 different sizes - Standard, Queen and King Size - best to use whatever size you prefer.

Measure it and then add for the seam allowance.

Cut on the fold of the fabric to reduce the number of seams.

Serge down the long side, then serger across the bottom.

Now fold up the hem and press. Now fold it inside so that the right sides are together. Now serging in the round (cut a notch to start) and serge all around the hem. Fold down and press seam up towards the body of the pillowcase. DONE! And quick as a snap!!!

Note - Always test first. Use a miniature piece of fabric so that you understand how to fold the hem.

If desired you could add a strip of lace, ribbon or any trim you like in the fold so that when you fold down the hem and press you will have embellishment (made EZ). Give it a try. I love making Holiday Pillowcases for family and friends.

BTW - I am working on the video. Hopefully soon, I will have it posted.

Happy Serging!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Question 4 U

I am considering posting some "How To" videos and offering a webinar class. Please let me know if this is something any of you would be interested in viewing.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's New Pussycat?

Here is a picture of Jerry and MiniME laying on a towel in the window in the kitchen.

I love animals as I am sure most of you do too. I have lots of leftover scraps from projects I have made over the years. Why not make a bed or throw for your pet.

Set up the serger for a 4 thread stitch.
Cut the pieces into squares - if you can cut them all the same size that would work. But if not - piece the scraps together. Once you have a completed piece about 24" x 36" ( or smaller depending on size of pet) then join it to an old towel or section of and old blanket. (My cats love to lay on towels so I know this is a recommended texture for felines.)

This is a good gift for a friend or loved one who has a pet that they consider a family member.

How about some questions?????

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Winter is coming......

Here is picture of me and my father. To him I owe much for he always believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams! I am so glad that I can now do for him.....

Believe it or not Winter will be here before you know it, even though Hot Hot August is next door.

I have seen so many pretty Shams and foot warmers in my travels and I always say I am going to make some when I get home. Haven't yet.

But the difference I saw in the Hotel Pillow shams is that they are part of the quilt or bedspread. To explain a little - a tube is formed at the head of the quilt so that you can insert the pillows. Was pretty neat and the colors they used were just grand.

Then there are the foot warmers. Sort of like a large table runner for the end of the bed. A different way to add just the right touch. So if your quilt or bedspread is print or solid just add a complimentary color foot warmer. And of course they do keep your feet toasty. I really like this idea and hope that I will make some for Christmas presents for family and friends. Just think how quickly they can be completed (a lot faster than making a whole quilt).

Another gift idea is a mini-throw for the car. I have made several of these as presents and some for myself. You know how cold the car is when you first get in until the heat kicks in. My husband gets in the car and cranks the heat up. But at first cool air comes out of the vents. So needless to say I am chilled to the bone. So I made some throws for the car and I cover myself while I wait for the warmth. Usually I make them out of fleece or flannel. When completed they are about 36" x 48", but you can make it any size you like. If you are creative you can make them into a quillow or pocket pillow so that the mini-blanket can be folded up into a pillow when not in use. (I have used them for airplane trips too!)

Just some ideas you can write on your calendar for making in September.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Scarves 4 everyone

Scarves as an accessory are so popular AGAIN! You can purchase any length of fabric (usually chiffon, organza, batik, silky knit, fleece etc.) and make a beautiful decorative designer scarf. Depending on what width you like - 12" 10" 8" 6" and so on you will be able to complete this project in about 15 minutes give or take.

Some people - take a scarf and double it to form a loop and them put the ends through the loop. Others make a double ring around the neck and tie in the back. Then again some tie in a bow, single knot, or just have it hang down loose.

How do you make a scarf - first take a tape measure and drape around your neck to see how long you would like the scarf to be when done. Write it down.

Next decide how wide you want the scarf to be - say about 10". Write it down. Cut the fabric to the written measurements.

Set up the serger for a 3 thread rolled hem or picot edge. Using the directions previously given for sharp corners - serge all 4 sides. Be sure to leave long thread tails and dab with seam sealant, twist threads and let dry. When threads are completely dry - trim as needed.

A more challenging way to make a short scarf is to cut a square about 24" x 24" (suggested but not in stone). Fold in half and then cut to the center on one of the folds. Serge the center cut raw edges - do not serge them together, not together (This is challenging because it is an inside corner but you can make it rounded) and then serge all the remaining raw edges. Your neck will be in the center of the scarf and then tie the two pointed ends in the front.

They make great gifts for any occasion. You can add embellishments galore - applique, beads, fringe, trim or anything your heart desires!!!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

BFF - question about a 5 thread serger she owns

Yesterday one of my BFFs asked if I would address some questions about 5 thread sergers. Even though most of them all perform the same functions (Cover stitch, chainstitch, 5 thread safety stitch etc.)I know personally of one that does a blanket stitch. I don't often endorse a product unless I have experience with it. Some products I have tried and DO NOT like - but I keep those harsh comments to myself.
But I have used the Janome 1200D since it first came out and I can truly say that I can make it sing. I have done the blanket stitch on many items with wonderful results. The rolled hem is another favorite of mine and it doesn't matter what thread is used, the stitch is sensational!

Special note - How is the blanket stitch achieved? Heavier weight thread (jeans stitch works or 25wt cotton quilting thread) in the needle - size 14 (no tension at all), regular serger thread in the loopers (tigthest tension - check manual first), long stitch length, wide bite for the knife(blade), differential feed between 0.5 and 1. I didn't find wooly nylon as cooperative as suggested for this stitch.

If you have any questions or need help....just ask!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fun Photos

My son came for a visit and we went to NYC to see several museums and exhibits.

Serger Books - you asked and here it is! :-)

Many people have asked about reference books for sergers. Here is a list of some of the serger books that are in my library. Some may be out of print - but you can always check the internet.

1. Kwik-Sews Swim & Action Wear -Kerstin Martensson
2. 10-20-30 minutes to sew-Nancy Zieman
3. More Polarfleece Pizzazz-Ruthann Spiegelhoff
4. Creative Sewing Ideas-Singer
5. Sewing Lingerie-Singer
6. Easy Guide to Serging Fine Fabrics-Kitty Benton
7. Sewing with Sergers-Gail Brown & Pati Palmer
8. The Ultimate Serger Answer Guide-Naomi Baker, Gail Brown, Cindy Kacynski
9. The New Creative Serging Illustrated-Pati Palmer, Gail Brown, Sue Green
10. Sewing with an Overlock--Singer
11. The Complete Serger handbook-Chris James
12. Serger Shortcuts-Joann Pugh, Gannon & Hastings

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sharing an idea - Sandy my BFF

I was talking with my BFF Sandy out in Texas the other day and she told me about this fantastic idea that I want to share. She teaches sewing/serger classes at a dealer's store in Texas.

She made a pillowcase dress for a little girl. What a cute dress and it was so EZ. She said that the hem is already there just cut to fit size. Next you can either run elastic around the top or just gather it and then add two straps or make it into a halter dress with one strap. I love the concept. I plan to make one for my sample case.

In addition to loving sergers I also love to do machine embroidery. So I figure I can embellish to my heart's content.....

After I make one of these sweet little numbers I will post a picture.

Thanks Sandy - BFF.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

serging (one seam) pants the EZ way

I have tried to draw a graphic - it is rudimentary but I hope ya'll get the drift.

I serge across the bottoms of the pants to remove the raw edges. Then I put the two pieces together flat and serge the curves. Then line up the inside seams (place a pin at the center crotch seam only to keep them aligned properly) and starting at one end serge all the way across to the other end. Quick easy and ready for the elastic and hemming.

Special note - sometimes I tape the pieces together to eliminate the outside seam and make them into one seam pants. You can cut out a small sample and try out the technique to see how it works.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Welcome New Followers!

I am delighted to see the number of followers growing. I hope that all of you have gotten some inspiration and a few tips that help. Life is Sergereffic!!!

Thank You!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ironing Board Cover - gift

I have made so many ironing board covers for myself and several for family and friends.

First - not all ironing boards are the same size, I learned that the hard way.

But they are so easy to make and quick. Yet they make a wonderful gift for yourself or someone else.

I took two pieces of newspaper (or pattern making paper or something similar and tape them together as needed). Lay them on top of the ironing board and trace around the shape of the ironing board. Next trace a line about 3" outside of the original line. (For the graphic I added blue lines to denote where the corners should be rounded.)
Cut out the pattern on the outer line with the rounded corners.

Place pattern on fabric (I usually make two at a time because with the fabric folded in half it is plenty big enough for both).

Set up the serger for a 4 thread balanced stitch or with a slight gather.

If you have an elastic gathering attachment, place it on the serger. The attachment makes it much easier.

Starting on one of the straight sides attach the elastic all the way around. When you get back to where you started I serge about 2" on top of the previously serged elastic and then just serge off.
I use this same technique to make crib sheets.
It is so quick and almost a no brainer with super results.
I have so many ironing board covers for all the seasons, including my Christmas one. I thought about taking a pic and posting it but they are so stained cause I do crafts and have oops on them it wouldn't look good enough to share. SO hopefully the graphic will be sufficient.

Note - I used to go through about 4 irons a year until I got my T-Fal. Just absolutely love it better than anything else. My BFF Valora told me about T-FAL, what a gal! I have now had the same one for 2 years without any problems. Yehaw!!!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hemming tissue Lame or liquid Lame

When I have hemmed tissue Lame or liquid Lame I have used a piece of ribbon on the bottom and done a picot or rolled hem edge. If you don't use some sort of stabilizer then the fabric distorts. Such as pulling, puckering, gathering or shredding.

I can't remember the exact name of the ribbon but it is sold in the bias tape section. And if I still had problems then I used a water soluble stabilizer on the top and just removed the excess when done.
When serging the seams I adjusted the differential feed to a slightly lesser number (on my serger between 1 and 0.5) and lengthened the stitch so it wouldn't gather. As always test on scrap of same fabric FIRST!

Believe it or not I made pajamas and nightgowns out of the liquid Lame for the kids. They just loved it - thinking they were super heroes. It was fun.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lycra and Spandex

I was at a hotel and they were having a comic book convention. I just love this pic and wanted to share it. Just for giggles.
I have gotten several calls about difficulty serging these types of fabrics.
There are a few things to know.
Sometimes you need to lengthen the stitch because the fabric is spongy and stitches too close together will make the fabric stretch out.
If the left needle thread keeps breaking it may be too loose and need to tighten the tension just a smidgen. I know you think that the thread tension is too tight but that is not the case. (Sometimes it looks like the needle is still threaded but looped and not forming a stitch....means tension is too loose.)
When working with these types of fabric I go SLOW, not super fast.
When serging over four layers of fabric (that may include elastic) for sure lengthen the stitch. Remember to allow for bulk - it doesn't necessarily make the stitch longer but allows for the needle threads to go into and out of the fabric without issue.

If your serger can use ball point needles you may want to try them. When I have made bathing suits, sportswear etc. I have used universal needles without problems. But of course use what works best with your serger. And again always test on scrap fabric first!

I may have said this before but I often use wooly nylon in the needles and/or loopers for these types of fabric. It gives the garment ease.

Note - remember to secure the thread tail ends. I tie them in a knot then trim the excess. Nothing worse than the serged seam coming undone when laundered or worn. Yikes!

For some easy patterns for lingerie, sportswear or bathing suits I like the KwikSew books. Of course I bought them years ago so I don't know if they are still available.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Duvet Cover - sorta

This is a graphic using colors that would show the idea. Hope it helps to understand the technique.

My mother-in-law also likes to sew and she gave me a good idea that I thought I would share.

Take two flat king size sheets or whatever size you want. RECYCLE.
Cut off the top bindings. On one cut a good size diamond shape in the center. For the raw edges you can put lace or do some sort of reverse applique. (The whole can really be any shape - but it must be a good size because you will need to insert a blanket later. Be sure to finish the whole before you serge the sides together).
With right sides together - serge all four sides (4 thread balanced stitch).
Turn right side out.
Insert a blanket and you have a delightful duvet or mock quilt. If you want the blanket to always be in there - you can stipple or stitch down the center opening and all four sides with a conventional sewing machine.

But I kept the whole open so I could remove the blanket and use just as sort of like a bedspread.

It looks really pretty done it all white or ecru. There are so many options for this that once you start thinking about it - your imagination will go wild.
Let me know if you try this and how it turned out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kitchen chair cushion covers

I have oak chairs in my kitchen around my round table. On the chairs I have cushions that tie on the backs of the chairs.

To make some summer covers I was thinking about making flange back covers and use bias tape for the ties. (Using a flange back you can remove them and wash them as needed.)

I haven't made them yet, just an idea floating around in my head.

Cut a piece of fabric long enough to go around the entire cushion plus about 9" and the width of the cushion plus about 4" give or take. I will try it on first and secure with pins to be sure of the fit.

Then fold under the short ends about 1/2" and then 1/2" again. You can serge or sew the ends.

Next with right sides together fold over the long ends to the size of the cushions but make sure you have about 1" or 2" extra room for when the cushion flattens out when someone sits on it.
Note - when folding place the bias tape strips where the ties should be.

Now just serge across the bottom and the top and you are done.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sharing is Caring

My only child - son Sean and me - of course.

I hope that you are reading my blog and getting some ideas and helpful hints. I check it often but I would love to have some questions or comments that I can address.

If you are reading it and not able to sign in - you can always check Facebook, I am there too.

Happy Weekend!

Serger Pintucking

Oh the rolled hem edge has so many applications!
Set up the serger for a rolled hem or a picot edge - whichever you like best. You can embellish a ready to wear garment or start from scratch.
I have done both.
You can create the pintucks by placing the fabric WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and without cutting the fabric (use the knife as a seam guide)serge a straight line. Just remember that when you do create this pintuck allow for the loss of fabric within the seam. So - cut more than you need if you are starting from scratch.
If you are embellishing ready to wear - here is a hint - leave a long thread tail and add beads or buttons or charms to the end of the rolled hem.
I have seen so many tops these days where they have made these pintucks at the neckline to make the blouse flair out.

Of course as always TEST first on a scrap of fabric. When I am testing I usually make a purse, pillow cover or totebag. Cause I hate to waste my efforts especially if it turns out good.

You can test on scraps and then arrange them to make a pillow or purse by alternating the squares vertical and horizontal....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Fun

My BFF Amy loved to make reversible skirts for the summer. She used chiffon or a very light weight flowy fabric. She would take a piece of fabric (hip size plus about 4" extra by the length from your waist to your ankles, example hips 42" and length from waist to ankle - 30". So cut a piece of fabric 46" x 30". Then fold in half to yield 23" x 30" (Make sure it fits and has room for movement)and serge up the long side. Then take another piece of different color or print of the same type of fabric and do the same thing.
Using a rolled hem or picot edge - serge all around the bottom of both skirts (separately - not together!)

With right sides together place one skirt inside the other, serge all around the top to join the two skirt pieces. Now turn right side out so the seam at the top is inside.

Then cut a piece of 1" elastic to fit your waist.

Using the sewing machine - sew about 1 1/2" down from the top to form a casing to insert the elastic. Be sure to leave a 2" opening to insert the elastic.

Insert the elastic, sew the cut ends together and then sew the opening closed.

And YIPPEE - You have an AMY skirt(s).

You will be impressed at how the two different fabrics compliment or contrast each other.

But remember - this was not my creativity - it was my BFF - AMY.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recycling - a different approach.

I have some bath towels that have frayed on the ends and I decided to restore them and use them for assorted other tasks.

Bath Towels----

You can set up the serger for a 3 thread picot edge. (Rolled hem settings with a longer stitch length.) Cut the towels to wash cloth or tea towel size and serge the cut edges. They can now be used for dusting, wiping up spills or anything you want. If you like you can leave a long thread tail on one corner and catch the end of the tail in the new serged side and use it as a hanging loop.

When old sheets have gotten tears or frayed I cut them up and make pillow cases.

Of course assuming that the remaining sections of the towel and sheet still have some miles left.

Hope you are inspired to recycle and reuse....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Elastic - issues

When working with Lycra, spandex or even some knit fabric and attaching elastic - needle threads break. In the past when I have had this problem, I found that lengthening the stitch really helped. Another problem believe it or not was that the needle thread tension was too loose - but just slightly. Especially when you are crossing over joined seams you need to have a long enough stitch to allow for the loft or density of the several layers you are joining. At times you can split the difference and make the stitch length a little longer than normal but not a full number.
Of course it makes a difference if you are using a 4 thread serger or a 5 thread serger(coverstitch).

And thread makes a difference. Don't use inexpensive thread for garment construction. It will give you more headaches than you can handle.

I was making my sister a pair of flannel back silk pjs and used that discount thread from the fabric store. What a mistake. There were several cuts in the thread and it was weak. By cuts I mean that I would be serging along and didn't notice that one of the threads was broken etc. What a nightmare.

Now I use Robison Anton Polyester thread for projects that are important to me. It is strong, comes in several colors and holds up well. For items that won't get a lot of wear I use the cone threads.

But I have to say that over the years I have used many different brands of thread in my serger, especially when color matching was crucial.

I am leaving for New Orleans today, hopefully I will bring back some cool ideas to share with ya'll.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pants - a new idea

This is a picture of my Sister (she taught me how to sew) and my niece. As you can see my sewing room needs some TLC. :-)

Usually when I make pants whether using knit fabric or cotton - the seams are always on the inside (according to pattern instructions). This morning as I sit here in my pajamas thinking about all of you and what to write, I noticed that my pj bottoms are on inside out.

Thought or maybe a new idea - How about using a rolled hem for the side seams and make them on the outside???? This would be easy to do and add a decorative line down the outer side seam. You could even use a contrasting or same color thread. For me it would have to be gold metallic. ;-)

Imagine how cute this would be for kids clothes, even little dresses, jumpers or shorts. Depending on the type of thread used it could look like piping. (Thread suggestions - wooly nylon, Heavy wooly nylon or Jeansstitch.)

When you test on scrap fabric (be sure you do) and if you get pokies or thread hairs - try using a water soluble stabilizer on top. Once the seam is serged just rip the excess stabilizer away.

Summer is fast approaching and we are always looking for new ideas. Take a pants pattern that you have made before and give this a try. I am going to as soon as I get dressed, have my coffee and open both my eyes.

Have a sergeriffic week!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Carry on Cover up

This warm and cuddly little cover up is perfect for the frequent flyer. It rolls up and attaches to your carry on luggage so no packing is required. You can also use this cover up when riding in a car during cool weather. Actually it has many uses - you decide!

• 2/3 yard of print cotton fabric
• ½ yard of solid cotton fabric (for embroidery or fabric of choice)
• 1 yard flannel

Fabric Cutting Instructions

• Five 10 ½” squares of print fabric
• Four 10 ½” squares of solid fabric for embroidery
• Nine 10 ½” squares of flannel

Notions and thread

• One 10” x ½” strip of ribbon
• Two 14” x ½” strips of ribbon
• Iron-on tear away stabilizer
• Washable glue stick
• 1 spool decorative serger thread
• 2 spools of 60 wt serger thread
• Scissors
• Blue fabric marking pen
• Plastic quilting ruler
• Straight pins
• Seam Sealant
• Hand sewing needle (optional)
• Floss threaders
• Double eye needle (for hiding thread tails)

Fabric Preparation

1. Arrange the nine flannel squares three by three.
2. Place the print squares and embroidered squares (optional - use whatever fabric desired)on top of the flannel squares with wrong sides together. Arranged squares should resemble a nine patch.

Embroidery is optional

1. Set up the serger for a 3 thread wide flatlock.
2. Use ½” seam allowance for flatlocking and edging.
3. Adjust the left needle tension to ½, the upper looper to 2 ½ - 3, and the lower looper to 8.
4. Adjust the stitch length to 3, the differential feed to 1.0.
5. Thread the lower looper with 60 wt. serger thread, the upper looper with decorative serger thread and the left needle with 60 wt. Serger thread.
6. With wrong sides together (white flannel) flatlock square 1 to square 2.
7. Open stitches so squares lay flat. If desired, press on the wrong side.
8. With wrong sides together stitch squares 1/2 to square 3 to form a row.
9. Repeat for second and third rows. There should now be three rows of three squares.
10. With wrong sides together flatlock row 1 to row 2.
11. Open from the back and press if needed.
12. With wrong sides together flatlock rows 1/2 to row 3.
13. Open from the back and press if needed.
14. Trim as needed to yield a 30” square.
15. Move the left needle to the right position and adjust tension to 4.
16. Replace 60wt. Serger thread with matching decorative thread in the lower looper. The same thread and color as used in the upper looper.
17. Adjust upper looper tension to 5 and the lower looper to 7.
18. Set the stitch length at 3 and the differential feed at 1.0.
19. Take two of the four pieces of 14” x ¼” ribbon and place them to the left of the center square. Secure with glue stick and/ or straight pins.
20. Take the remaining two pieces of 14” x ¼” ribbon and place them to the right of the center square. Secure with glue stick and/or straight pins.
21. Take the 10” x ¼” ribbon and place it about 1” in from the seam on the center square on both sides.
22. Serge across the top and catch all the ribbons.
23. Serge the remaining three sides.
24. Fold and roll up and place on carry on luggage for trip to paradise.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thread Nets

First and Foremost - Welcome New Followers and thank you!

Had some unexpected things to do this week, couldn't get to posting projects - but I will this week.

BUT - I have had questions about thread nets vs. spool caps. I have never had good luck with thread nets. The thread got caught in the ends of the net and jerked the thread and made a mess. Whenever possible or needed I just put a spool cap on the top of the thread to allow easy off of the thread from the spool. (That's when I use regular sewing machine thread or small spools)

If the thread feeds of better horizontally - then I use a horizontal spool feeder. It is a gizmo that snaps on to the spool spindle and then you put the spool on the horizontal stick. Then just pass through all the thread guides as usual, including the top guide of the telescope.

There are so many notions available to make life easier when serging. Some I have listed in previous posts just scroll down and take a look.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Using your left hand is important!

When making garments especially blouses/shirts attaching sleeves can sometimes be a challenge. After you have already attached the top or cap of the sleeve then you most likely will serge down the side closing the sleeve and the side of the blouse/shirt. Line up the previously serged seam and secure with washable gluestick. (If you use a pin make sure it is away from where you will be serging - it may damage the knife or the looper if you serge over it....)
USE YOUR LEFT HAND TO HOLD AND GUIDE THE FABRIC SO STITCHES ARE FORMED AT THE INTERSECTION. As the fabric is advancing towards the needles and knife you will notice that it is moving away from the needles/knife. Watch closely and use your left hand to make sure the fabric is being serged. I repeat----- your left hand is important and useful. The same technique applies when serging an inside corner, outside curve or circle.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Designer Poncho

Making a poncho from chiffon, silky knit or any sheer light weight fabric is fun and easy. You can even make one out of lace.
1. Cut fabric approximately 45" x 60".
2. Fold fabric in half to yield 45' x 30".
3. Using a template or large dinner plate - cut a hole at the top for the neck opening - to fit your head.
4. Set up serger for rolled hem or picot edge.
5. On the right side of the fabric - serge all the straight raw edges. Note - remember to turn the fabric CLOCKWISE to start a new corner.
6. With contrasting or same fabric - make bias tape to bind the neck opening.
7. Using a conventional sewing machine - attach the binding to the neck opening.
8. DONE!
9. If desired - sew up the two sides starting about 4" in from the side - at the bottom and going up about 6" - 10". Different look but sweet!
10. Optional - Make poncho triangular. Same instructions - just fold the fabric to make a triangle before you cut the neck opening.

Smocking with a 5 thread serger

One of my BFFs told me she was doing some smocking on a dress for her granddaughter. When I told her that I had once taught smocking on the serger - she said "WHAT, HOW?"

This is done with a 5 thread serger - the triple cover stitch using the 3 front needles. Set up the serger for gathering (needle tensions may need to be adjusted to a higher number, lengthen the stitch and adjust the differential feed). The trick is place elastic thread in the looper. To prevent a lopsided look, you may want to go up one side and then reverse direction. You will need a lot of fabric because it does bunch up the fabric like smocking.

Testing on scrap fabric first is a MUST!

When I taught this class we made a book cover. For the crisscross stitch - we used the chainstitch.

You may not want to try smocking but give the elastic thread a try in the looper for a different effect. But please note - do not cut the thread too short - the elastic thread will snap back and the stitches will unravel. Tie the end threads in a knot to secure the stitch.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Knit fabrics

Sergers love knit fabric. Since serger stitches have a bit a stretch to them or ease then this machine of wonderment is perfect for Knit type fabrics. Also great for Lycra, spandex and silky knit fabrics. Years ago I used to make bathing suits and I was ever so glad I had a serger!

Tips - lengthen the stitch a bit to accommodate the sponginess of the fabric. Short stitches tend to make the fabric stretch to ruffle OUT. (lettuce edge)
Use new needles for every garment and good thread. Be sure the serger is cleaned out of all dust and debris. You don't want a bit of lint serged into the seam. Been there done that - don't you do it!

Occasionally I would use a narrow three thread stitch with wooly nylon in the loopers. Reason - soft feel of seam that touches the skin.

There are many patterns for knit fabrics - I have used most if not all of them at one time or another. I do like the Kwik Sew books.

Cutting- use a new blade in the rotary cutter! Don't use pins - use pattern weights or cans of vegetables to hold the pattern in place on the fabric. (My sister made me some pattern weights by filling baby food jars with colored rocks. They work super.)
Pins - if I have to use pins - I make sure that they are brand new! A burr on a straight pin will damage the fabric. If I am scared then I use a washable glue stick to hold the fabric raw edges together. Just a few dots of gluestick will do the trick to keep the fabric from shifting.

Be sure the cutting mat is clean. I bought the gizmo for smoothing the self healing mats. Not that impressed with the results.

I am testing a new mat - will post comments soon.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tablecloth - CENTER

With all the issues of trying to insert the graphic I forgot to mention that I usually put a circle or square of fabric in the center to cover up where the seams are joined. I sew it on with the sewing machine.

One of my favorite notions is the yardstick compass. It is a gizmo with a pointy nail and a lead pencil joined and you slide it on a ruler or yardstick to make perfect circles. Have had it for years and have used it countless times! I draw a circle on a piece of poster board, cut it out and then use a fabric marking pen and trace the outline of the circle on the fabric. Works fantastic!!!!!!

After all this - if anyone makes a tablecloth - PLEASE let me know, and maybe we can figure out how to post the picture.


Trying one more time, then I am going to ask for help.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Round Table Cloth

I can never find the right color or size round table cloth for my kitchen. Because my husband doesn't like it to hang down too far I make it 60" round for my table.

Takes a bit of fabric BUT I have been really happy with the end result.

Cut four 30" squares of fabric.
Using a 4 thread overlock stitch - stitch two of the four squares together. Then take the two remaining squares and serge them together. Now you should have TWO sections that each have two squares. Align the seams and serge them together so that there are four squares and one piece. Fold them so all four squares on piled on top of each other. Take a plate or something that will give you a rounded corner and draw a line and then cut off the corner so that it is rounded. Now set up the serger with a decorative thread in the upper looper (Jeansstitch or 25wt cotton quilting thread) Adjust the settings for a Picot or rolled hem. Remember to notch to start and then edge all around the edge.

A perfect table cloth and the color will be just what you want. if you want the table cloth bigger them measure the table, do the math, and make it the size desired.

This tablecloth can be completed in less than ONE HOUR!

Serger Vs Sewing Machine (again but a little different)

I will often use the serger instead of the sewing machine whenever I can. I have several drawers of decorative thread that I use to edge throw pillows, placemats, tablecloths, napkins, appliance covers, bath mats (made from old towels), changing pads (put old square of plastic shower curtain in the middle layer to water proof),

These are just some of the many things I do using the serger instead of the sewing machine - to save time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More about flowers

This pic has nothing to do with this post - but the pillows are edged with Candlelight (metallic thread). EZ, Quick and fun!

You can also rolled hem the one long edge with fishing line or thin wire. There is an accessory foot available that allows you to insert the line/wire so that it is placed to the right of the right needle and just to the left of the cutting blade. The foot works great. But if you want to try this without the foot - just go slow and once you catch the line/wire it should go pretty smooth.

Think about the possibilities - make your own wired ribbon, wedding veil, hem on a square dance skirt......

Also, I mentioned in an earlier post about serging over yarn. BUT you can rolled hem over crochet thread. It has many different weights - try one that is about the weight of heavy string or light weight twine.

If you serge over yarn you can also use this to embellish (free hand) a ready to wear garment. Arrange the yarn to make a design or flower and then zig zag it down with a conventional sewing machine or a manual sewing machine (Hand sewing needle and thread).

Sergers can be so much fun and you can do so many creative things -

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

WARNING! About making the flowers.

When gathering the strip for making the flowers.....

Sorry I forgot to include this info in original post.

Making flowers

For embellishment on hats both fleece, knit or whatever and for purses and totebags - here is a hint.

Take a 2" x 22" piece of organza or cotton.
Set up the serger for a rolled hem with matching thread.
Serge down one long side and when you get to the end angle off. If possible start at an angle too.

For the opposite long side set up the serger to gather and gather down the long side with the raw edge. To make it twirl into a flower just pull the threads from the thread tail. OR if desired do a running stitch with a hand sewing needle and thread to form the flower the size desired.

For the middle I attach a button or piece of ribbon or whatever is laying around on my cutting table from previous projects. :-D

Note - you can also use satin, batiste or any light to medium weight fabric desired. Won't work with heavier fabric like canvas.

Oh - you can put the flower(s) on jackets, dresses, vests or any garment that you would like to add personality. Or glue them to a headband. There's an idea that just popped into my head. If you watch American Idol you will see that a lot of the girls are wearing flowers in their hair. Cute and easy to make!!!!

Let me know if you make any and how you like them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Straight Pins and the Serger

Most of the time it is suggested that you use a washable glue stick in stead of straight pins. WHY? Because if you forget and serge over a pin it may put a knick in the knife or damage the loopers. If you must use pins then there is a recommended direction for the pins to be inserted into the fabric layers. Vertical - not horizontal.

The more experienced you become you may want to use pins - but you must be alert at the wheel. Beware of stray pins - the knife (blade) will act as a guillotine and chop off the head of the pin. Who knows what will happen as a result. A broken needle in the eye is not worth it! Or perhaps you are like me and wear cheaters when you sew. :-D

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Decorative Edge or Rolled Hem

For the upcoming holiday(s) you can easily make some quick placemats. Take two pieces of cotton fabric and place either batting or felt between the two layers to form a sandwich. An average size is 14" x 17" or whatever you decide.

Set up the serger for a 3 thread wide decorative stitch or a rolled hem or a picot edge. For a decorative edge stitch you can use pearl crown rayon thread (Designer6, Jeansstitch thread, Candlelight, RA polyester floss etc.) in both loopers and regular serger thread in the left needle.

BUT THE TRICK IS THIS-----ROTATE THE FABRIC CLOCKWISE TO START A NEW EDGE. THIS WILL RESULT IN A SHARP CORNER. When you start a new side don't try to start stitching on top of previous stitches. This often results in stacking. That means the needle is forming stitches around the stitch finger but the fabric is NOT moving. For the final edge - start with a small scrap of fabric (but leave a space tail about 2" between the scrap and the placemat) and then advance to the placemat.

Of course as always try this technique on scrap fabric FIRST.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just Bragging

Last week I went an saw my BFF from high school and we went to Hollywood, Calif.
I had a wonderful time AND I had muy picture taken with Andrea Bocelli. I tried to tell him all about sergers but he was just sew busy. :-D

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Floss Threaders

If your local drug store does not carry floss threaders - perhaps you can order them on line. I am not recommending this site - only providing it as an option that I found.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Serger Vs. Sewing Machine (Garment Construction)

Over the years I have made several shirts, blouses, skirts, vests, coats etc. I use my sewing machine for top stitching, inserting zippers and making button holes. For the actual construction I use my SERGER. I don't sew the seam with the sewing machine and then serge the raw edges. Why do the same function twice??? The serger joins the fabric (seams) and overcasts at the same time. I have found that this makes constructing the garment much quicker, more sturdy and withstands multiple washings without incident.

If I need the seam to lay flat then yes I will serge the raw edges first and then sew with the sewing machine. But I don't sew and then serge - too tedious.

Home Dec projects constructed with the serger are a snap!

I know old habits are hard to break - but this one is well worth it 4 U.

Monday, February 22, 2010

EZ Spaghetti Straps

Just a little tip today.

To make spaghetti straps that are sturdy but yet CUTE - here is an easy way to do it.

Take about a 2" strip of fabric by whatever length you want, fold the long side right sides together.
Use the left hand side of the presser foot as a guide. Fold on the left, raw edges to the right.
Serge down the long strip cutting away the excess fabric (raw edges).
Use a safety pin or tube turner and turn the fabric right side out. The seam inside gives the strap body and durability.


This technique can also be used to make belt loops, button loops and Celtic frogs. Give it a try and let me know how much you love this quick and ez technique!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Serger Techniques

Advanced Serger Techniques

1. Inside Corner – Four thread sergers work best when serging in a straight line. It is suggested that when you want to serger an inside corner you cut a ¼” nip in the center of the corner so that you can more easily manipulate the fabric. Some books suggest that you make a small fold in the corner and then relax it once it has been serged. It is best if you try both techniques and see which one you find more comfortable.
2. Outside Corner – It is possible to turn the corner without sergering off. This technique takes a lot of practice but can be done. Serge to the end of the fabric, lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric, retract the thread, place the needles in the fabric by hand turning and then continue serging to the next corner. Problem – if you do not get it just right there will be loose stitches and/or dog ear corners. It is easier to serge off and hide thread tails whenever possible.

(Graphic came in at the top)

3. For SHARP outside corners rotate the fabric CLOCKWISE after each side has been serged. That way you will start with a clean raw edge until the last raw edge. Note – at times when starting to serge over a previously serged seam the thread will stack (form stitches without advancing the fabric).
4. Sergin a circle or oval* - Notch to start is the best way to perform this technique. Notch to start means cut a section out of the fabric so it can easily be placed under the presser foot and beyond the upper knife. The section is usually about ¼” deep by 1” in length give or take. To stop you must stitch right on top of the beginning stitches for about 1” and then remove your foot from the foot pedal. Next you lift the presser foot, gently pull the fabric away from the needle, lower the presser foot and then serge a thread tail. Hide thread tails and dab with seam sealant. Tip – when the fabric starts to bunch up as you are turning, stop the serger with the needles in the fabric, gently lift the presser foot but not to its highest position, and the fabric will relax. This technique also works well with outside and inside curves.

(Graphic came in at the top.)

5. Pokies – to prevent pokies it is suggested that you move the upper knife a little to the right to bite more fabric. Always test on scrap fabric first. Another way to prevent pokies is to place water soluble stabilizer on top of the fabric. This acts like a sausage casing and encloses the fabric. Note – pokies are fine fibers of fabric poking out from the segerd edge.
6. Fixing skipped stitches – Use a hand sewing needle and clear nylon thread unknotted. Start from the back and go to the front and secure the skipped stitches. Once the threads are secure pass the needle to the back again and then hand tie a double knot. If possible hide the ends of the clear nylon thread under some stitches or under the fabric. Cut away excess clear nylon thread.
7. Serger Tucking – With wrong sides together you make an outside seam. This is a great way to encourage using embroidery thread to make a custom thread color. Make several rows on a long piece of fabric. On the sewing machine, stitch vertical lines so that the seams alternate direction. The threads used on the back will be featured when you change direction.
8. Serger Pintucks – Pintucks can easily be achieved by using either the rolled hem or picot edge. The Picot edge with 100% cotton Robison Anton thread makes a beautiful serger pintuck.

Serging in the Round

This is actually not as difficult as one would imagine. Let's say you are attaching a sleeve. You would align the two pieces together first with pins. But remember to remove the pins BEFORE they approach the blade. It is a costly repair if you chip the blade or damage one of your loopers.

Just like sewing in a circle - you knotch to start. That means cut a section about 1/8" - 1/4" in by about 1" long. Lift the presser foot, advance the fabric so that the end of the cut is at the neck of the blade. Serge all the way around and then finally serge on top of some of the previous stitches and then serge off. If you are serging in a circle - you serge a little on top of previous stitches, then lift the presser foot and move the fabric away from the needles and serge off. Secure the overlap with seam sealant and then trim excess thread carefully.

Most sergers are not free arm - so that means you approach serging in the round a little differently. It is sort of like if you placed a can on it's side with the open side facing the machine and the excess above the machine. Not a good mental picture but I hope you understand. Please don't try to sew a can!


In the future I will place a graphic and more detailed instructions on serging in a circle. As well as serging inside and outside corners. Coming soon!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Serger Backstitching

In regard to gathering - in order to lock the stitches so they don't come out - you need to backstitch or lock the stitching. (Another way is to tie the thread tail in a knot.)

1. Serge for about 1" and then bring the thread tail around in front of the needles and knife and serge on top - over it.
2. When you get to the end - serge off about 1", then flip the fabric upside, bring around to the front and stitch on top of the previous stitches about 1" and then serge off.

This will lock the stitches at the beginning and the end.

Sometimes I don't do this because I want to ease the gathering or modify the amount of gathering.

It is suggested that if you are putting in a cap sleeve or any sleeve you can gather between the dots to ease the sleeve into the armhole.

SPECIAL NOTE - IF YOU ARE ATTACHING A GATHERED SECTION TO A FLAT PIECE OF FABRIC - THE GATHERED FABRIC MUST BE ON THE BOTTOM! Otherwise the gathers will flatten out. I know because I have made that mistake once or twice. It was just as painful as stubbing you toe.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gathering with a Serger

In the old days we gathered fabric on our sewing machines by pulling bobbin thread, zigzaging over floss and a whole host of other stand on your head tricks. But with sergers today you can easily gather fabric either on the edge (with a 4 thread) or down the center (with a 5 thread). How U do dat?
First of all adjust the needle thread tensions to a higher number. For example if 3 is normal for your serger - set both needle tensions at 6 or 7, adjust the stitch length to as high a number as you can. Lastly adjust the differential feed to the highest number you can. For some sergers that means adjusting the stitch length to 4 or 5. The differential feed settings differ from model to model. So if 2 is the highest number on the dial - than that's the number for U.

Of course several sewing machine companies that carry sergers offer a "gathering foot" or "gathering attachment" for sergers. I can tell you from experience - THEY WORK GREAT!!!! The gathering is uniform and neat. (Don't worry about the stitches on the edge looking loopy - they are supposed to.)

How do you know how much the fabric will gather? Well - here is one way to judge. Take a 10" scrap of the fabric you will be using for the project (garment) and gather it. Then run to the yardstick or cutting table if you have one and measure and see what you have left. Let's say you have 5". Well you know how to calculate now. One teacher I had said start with 12" - yeah that would work if I had paid more attention in math class. Did not. I was too busy flirting with all the boys. I was a teenager in the 60's - enough said.

Everyday I am grateful to the person that invented the calculator. Thanks!
If you scroll down you will see a little girl's dress I made with a ruffle at the hem That is exactly how I did it. Go take a look.

Happy Velentine's Day everyone!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Questions 4 me

I would love to get some questions to answer. I am sure that everyone would benefit from even the simplest questions or suggestions. Let's here from U!
Maybe you want to know what pokies are and how to prevent them????

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rolled Hem (Wooly - no wooly????)

Most think that you can only do a rolled hem with wooly nylon in the upper looper. Not so. I often use regular serger thread in the upper looper especially if I need a perfect color match. But there is a trick - isn't there always.

The upper looper thread tension needs to be adjusted to just a little tighter (higher number tension). Sometimes you need to tighten the needle thread tension just a wee bit too.
My sister Karen drives me crazy - she rolled hems everything because she is too lazy to hem on her conventional sewing machine. AND she refuses to use any of the decorative thread I have given her. SO - she uses regular serger thread to do rolled hems on robes, blouses, vests, shirts and so on. But of course she always calls me and asks - what should I set the tensions at for a rolled hem?

OH - and there is a wooly nylon that is a heavier weight. I have used it to edge tapestry pillows. When all four sides are complete - it looks like piping. I think it is called wolly Extra. Not sure. I have a couple of spools in my sewing room, but I am too tired to go downstairs and look.

You can also use Jeansstich thread by YLI - but you will have to lengthen the stitch a little. That thread is heavier weight than the others I mentioned above.

Have a great weekend everyone. We are expecting snow??? SO I will SEW!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Serger Projects

I know that Christmas is over - but it is never too early to get started on next year. Christmas stockings are so easy to make using the serger. Pattern shapes of the stocking are available in most books in your personal library. If it is not big enough then enlarge on a copier.

Making a quilt using fleece or double layer cotton fabric is quick and fun using the flatlock stitch (see earlier posts).

Table toppers, table cloths for occasional table (small round tables), bath mats. Speaking of bath mats - take a couple of old towels and serge them together. For a border you can add cotton strips.

I love making pencil holders out of cans (green bean size). Just measure and make a tube of fabric (double the height of the can)- of course serge the long side to form the tube. Then slip the can inside the tube (fabric right side out) and tuck the extra fabric inside. Then make a circle out of cardboard - bigger than the base of the can. Cover the cardboard with fabric and glue it to the bottom of the can. If you need more detailed instructions - just let me know.

Covers for the toilet tank - this time you can use elastic so it stays on. Sure - you can make a toilet seat cover too.

These are just some ideas. Not just for Christmas but for any occasion, birthdays, Easter, Mothers Day etc.

Have a question - just let me know.

Down to the basement to sew! Life is good.....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moments of Misery

Stacking - that is when the thread is wrapping around the needle plate and the fabric is not moving. Yipes. If you notice it right away you can gently tug on the fabric and help it move past the stacking. Or at least avoid the thread knot. But if you have a lump or birds nest - then get the sharp scissors and snip the threads to remove them from the needle plate. If it is a mountain of thread you may have to remove the needle plate and the needles to clear the way. Sometimes this happens because the fabric is not advanced far enough under the foot for the feed dogs to grab it. Of course check the thread path to see that the lower looper thread is not wrapped around something and catching. Another reason is that the presser foot is not down. (been there done that too, so I know.)

Skipped stitches (I may have addressed this before, but it is worth repeating). First check to see that the needle(s) are inserted as high as they will go. Check the thread path to see that you have passed through all the thread guides. Change the needles. Another reason is that the needle thread tensions are too loose or too tight, This you will have to test to determine if this is the culprit. Old thread that has passed it's expiration date. It is dried out and needs to be replaced.

Rolled hem peels off the edge of the fabric - yes it is your fault. :-)
When serging we have a tendency to pull the fabric to the left away from the needles. Try, TRY to push the fabric toward the knife as you pass under the needles. If you are sure you are doing that then move the blade (upper knife) a little to the right to take a bigger bite of fabric. Especially when you are serging a curve it is important to watch the knife and not the needles. Whether it is an inside or outside curve keep your eyes on the curb (knife). The needles know their job but the fabric has a mind of its own and will drift away from the needles and the knife if you are not careful.

Thread keeps breaking and it is the lower looper. Most sergers have an order in which they are threaded. Some upper looper first, some lower looper first, check the manual. If you tie off and pull the thread through sometimes you may miss a thread guide for the lower looper. But let's say that the lower looper thread broke and you just re-thread the lower looper. Ain't gonna work. As you turn the hand wheel the needle threads are wrapping around the lower looper and a knot forms and the thread breaks again. If you want to just re-thread the lower looper then remove the thread from the eyes of the needles and then re-thread the lower looper. Trust me those needle threds love to form knots underneath where you can't see what's happening.

The knife is cutting the fabric but it is catching between the knife and the serged edge forming a sort of ragged knot of fabric. (Not sure how to describe it but hopefully you know what I mean.) Most likely the knife is too far to the right (too much space - a gap) and it may need to be moved further to the left. If that doen't work, then I will grab the tail of the fabric cut and guide it down into the waste receptacle. More often this happens with high loft fabrics like fleece. AND I go slow so I can maintain control of the fabric. Rarely, but sometimes the knife needs to be replaced or sharpened. If you serged over a pin then there may be a nick on the cutting side of the knife. Rub an old pair of pantyhose across the blade and see if it catches - that will be a sure sign of trouble in paradise.

I will give you some more info another time- my brain is tired.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Response to questions

Thank you for your questions. I responded under the topic in "Comments". Keep em coming - I love it!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Serger Notions - a must have!

For those of you who have trouble threading the loopers - go to any drug store and purchase "floss threaders" in the dental section. They look like blue loops with a tail. They are used for cleaning permanent bridges (teeth).
If you work with decorative threads then a "double eye needle" is super for hiding the thread tails.

If you like to use ribbon floss or thread that feeds off better horizontally - then a horizontal spool feeder will become your best friend!

Seam Sealant - there are many brands and I have used them all. I have no preference because they all work pretty much the same. Though if you ask around I am sure people will tell you their favorites.

Small very sharp pointy scissors. If you ever get a knot of thread wrapped around the needle plate you will be glad you have them. Been there - rough road!

Clear nylon thread for fixing ooooopps.

Next time I am going to go over some "mishap" terms like stacking etc. and give you some tips on how to get beyond the misery.

Til them - enjoy your serger and stitch away!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Overlock 4 - front and back

Picot Edge

Same settings as rolled hem - just lengthen the stitch. Perfect for hemming delicate fabrics.

Flatlock stitches

These are flatlock stitches, closed and open flat.