Friday, May 20, 2011

Fearless Serger Sewing

With a few simple lessons, you can "fear serging less!" You don’t have to give up creativity. With a serger, you can become more creative.

When I began my serger experience in 1988, I was determined to learn the machine. I was fascinated with how the loopers worked in tandem with each other and how the needle(s) interacted with the loopers. I was somewhat intimidated by this new machine, but with a few classes, I became fearless, and so can you! It would be money well spent. Allow yourself to expand your abilities and skill beyond your present level.

The serger was so much fun that I made almost everything on it for the next couple of years, from lingerie and swimsuits to blue jeans. My sewing machine rarely got used – it was so neglected! I had already been using a zig-zag stitch with an overcast foot on my sewing machine to finish seams on woven fabrics – so many that I wore out three feet. So, when I learned how to use my first serger, I was in "sewing-heaven!"

Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that delicate-looking heirloom techniques could be done on the serger. Since discovering heirloom serger sewing, another world has opened up to me. I’ve found that French seams, pin tucks, joining flat or gathered lace to fabric, lace to entredeux, and lace to puffing can be a very fast way to produce a beautiful heirloom project in a fraction of the time it takes on a sewing machine. This allows a multiple-step sewing machine process to be substituted by a one-step serger process. 

With the capability of today’s sergers to gather, to stitch on beading, to make chain stitching and multiple-needle cover stitching, to add bias binding and to do shadow work, our options seem to be unlimited. Some of these stitches can be used in multiple ways as decorative stitch embellishment. And, let’s not forget the flatlock stitch - another way to embellish our projects. Crazy patch made with any combination of these stitches is yet another creative way to use our serger.

Serger crochet can add another dimension when finishing the edges on a project. I’ve used this technique on edges of unlined jackets, both with rayon and 12 weight cotton threads. Serger crochet can also be used to add a pretty and feminine edge to handkerchiefs, scarves and baby bonnets. I even saw a demonstration on doing serger smocking on a recent Martha Pullen Sewing Room program. Where will it all end?!

If you are having difficulty threading your serger, my recommendation is to take a class that teaches how to thread your particular serger, or get with a sewing buddy who may have a similar serger for help. Or, simply cut the threads above the tension dials and tie on new threads, then pull them through. Be sure to not pull the thread knot through your tension dials/discs to prevent damaging them.

One thing I did, once I learned how to thread my serger, was to practice over and over until I could almost thread it with my eyes closed. Be sure to test repeatedly anytime you re-thread your serger, or even tie on new threads, just as you would on your sewing machine. Another option is to join the Serger Club at Austin's Sewing Center or your local dealership, where you’ll be exposed to techniques that will expand your skill level. 

Of course, we will always need our wonderful sewing machines to accomplish most of our sewing tasks, but our serger can really help us make a more professional-looking project, no matter what it is. So, now that you "fear serging less," go ahead, venture into the creative serging world and explore the various possibilities. Play with your serger, experiment with its different functions, and have fun! 

Sandy Davis ©2010

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