You must be wondering what happened to my serger I got for Christmas? Well, I'm embarrassed but I just never found the time! I enrolled in the Beginner Serging Class on Craftsy and then never found the time to watch it, and was afraid to make a start without knowing what I was doing.
So while hubby was out an an event, I sat down with a big cup of coffee, my manual and my class and tried to put my fear aside.
The lovely instructor in the class, Amy, is SUCH a sweetie and she gave me confidence that nothing terrible was going to happen if I just turned it on and pressed the pedal. She was right of course – it just worked. In fact it was absolutely fascinating to watch it work and then I just couldn't wait to get started.
If you are still looking at your serger and unsure where to start or feeling the same dread and confusion that I was – honestly, it's not so bad. The class will take away all your fear and suddenly it's an exciting new tool to use to improve your sewing, not a monster sat in the corner waiting to cut your fingers off (yes I was afraid that would happen!)
Let's take a look briefly at the class and then I'll show you what I did to overcome my fear.
Beginning Serging Class Review
I know several of you bought the same serger I did when it went on sale just before Christmas on Amazon. The Brother 1034D. It seems to be probably the most popular serger on the market and has sold in it's thousands, this same model now for years. The good news is, this is one of the sergers Amy looks at in the class. She looks at 3 different models, including this Brother, although she works mostly on one of the other machines in the class for her projects.
- About Amy
- About the Craftsy platform
- What's covered in this class
- Getting ready to start
Amy shows us the serger reference book we are going to make during the class so that we can refer back to it later for the settings for our own machines when using the various stitches and differing fabrics etc. What a great idea!
There are a lot of class materials supplied including the pages for your reference book to make, as well as the class projects.
Lesson 2 – Your serger and how it works
- Serger accessories
- Thread stands and guides
- Tension dials and looper covers
- Threading and the presser foot
- Plates, fingers and feed dogs
- Upper and Lower loopers
- Blades and cutting dials
- Needles and clamps
- Knobs and dials
- Threading the Bernina
- Changing colors
The nitty-gritty of the class is ALL in this one excellent lesson. You'll learn so much about all of the parts and accessories and tips on threading etc. Threading the Brother isn't specifically shown, but by watching how Any did hers, and then referring to my manual, I was able to thread mine correctly the first time! Yay – one of my worst fears banished.
Once I feel I am proficient and have done it a few times from scratch, I'll try to make some pictures and a video of the Brother 1034D threading in case any one out there is struggling or could use some extra clear pictures. The CDs that came with the Brother Machine are adequate shall we say, but really could do with some updating and a clearer look.
Maybe Brother would offer me the chance to remake them or give them an update – I'd love to do something like that one day.
Lesson 3 – Basic Stitches
I had no idea the serger was so versatile! Looks like it can do far more than I was expecting which is a nice surprise. Here we look at the settings you can use and how to set up for all sorts of stitches, and it's time for us to work on our samples and make records for our stitching reference book we are creating.
- 4 thread overlock
- 3 thread overlock
- 3 thread flatlock
- 3 thread narrow seam
- 3 thread rolled hem
- 2 thread overlock
- 2 thread wrapped overlock
- 2 thread rolled hem
- Using a stablizer
- Stitch issues, and picking the right needle for your project
- 2 thread flatlock
The Brother is a 3 or 4 thread machine so the 2-thread stitches don't work for me, but I think I've already got enough to work on anyway, so I'm not disappointed.
I set up my machine for the 4 thread overlock, I suppose the ‘standard' stitch for the machine and made some samples. I twiddled with my tension settings just a very little until I was happy that it looked right according to the examples that Amy showed us and then I was ready to sew.
Sewing with my serger for the first time!
That's all I've done in the class so far, but there are projects and a lot more to look at such as tension settings and issues, but once I had the basic grounding and seen the machine in action it was time for me to put my fears aside and give it a try on my own.
I think that using a serger is like getting your pilot's licence. Once you have learned the basic skills of taking off, flying and landing, you just have to log the hours until your become confident and proficient. So I found some time and sat to do just that.
Rather than just cut strips of fabric to practice on, I thought I would try to do something I could use. I had a pretty Jelly Roll that I had bought from Blitsy but never used yet, and the long thing strips seemed perfect for running through the serger, getting used to the speed, how it felt, checking the tension, seeing where the blade was cutting. Just getting used to the whole process.
So I ran ALL the jelly roll strips though the machine and I varied how I sewed them. Some I sewed with the edges of the fabric right up to the blade, but not cutting. Some I did where I lined up the fabric with the right hand edge of the flat bed in front of the machine, and some I did where I tried to line up with the 5/8th of an inch mark on the front of the machine. Some pieces weren't cut at all, some only cut a little and the third set cut a little more again.
As I sewed, this created a set of strips of varying widths to give my project a little bit of variety and give me a little bit of practice so I could really start to log my hours and head towards getting my ‘licence to serge'.
The real joy comes on the back. Once everything was pressed, just look at those seams and raw edges! It'all so neat and pretty with no fraying or stay threads sticking out anywhere. Looks very lovely and very strong.
Here's a little close up. How is my tension? I can see a few loops on the edges of the fabric on some of those strips – probably the ones where I sewed without cutting off any fabric. But otherwise, those of you with more serger experience, do you think the stitches look OK?
What I wasn't prepared for was all the mess I made. Working with a jelly roll is always a bit messy anyway because they just seem to shred this fabric dust everywhere when you unroll them and then again when you sew, but the floor, the machine, my clothes, the cat, everything was covered by the time I had finished.
So that's where I am so far. Feeling much more comfortable. If you haven't started yet, do try out the class with Amy, Beginning Serging on Craftsy and then get yourself a jelly roll or some strips of fabric and put the hours in until it feels comfortable for you too.
Then we can move onto other fun stitches and skills. But now, what to make with that big piece of striped fabric I created? Another quilt top perhaps?