Product of the Month: Serger
I am new to sergers (I've had mine less than 1 year) but I can't believe I have lived without it so long. I admit that my serger sat in its box for a solid week before I could muster the guts to open it and learn its secrets. It was intimidating. But since then I have realized it was intimidated because I was so ignorant. I really had no idea what it really did and how it worked. One day I took a deep breath and decided that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill and I just needed to start already. I am so glad I did. Yes, it is a whole new machine. Yes, it is different than my sewing machine. Yes, it does move fast; much, much faster. So what. Learning my serger is still an ongoing process but I knew it had to be our product of the month because even though I may only know a smaller percentage of what my Brother 1034D can do, it is an amazing product.
For those of you who are like me pre-serger, a serger is another name for an overlock machine. An overlock machine is a machine whose main purpose is to perform than overlock stitch which is a stitch that sews over the edge of one or two layers of fabric securing the edge and stitching or locking the layers in place while encasing the edges. Sergers run at high speeds and also feature a knife which trims the edge and makes for a smooth finished edge. Trimming your fabric while finishing the edges helps hid any chopping cut edges and frayed edges.
You can use your serger for just finishing loose fabric edges or for garment construction, hemming and for decorative stitching. I am most familiar with finishing edges and construction. I am slowing dabbling in hemming and decorative stitching. I am having much too much fun right now whipping up t-shirts in no time and saving time serging edges instead of double hemming with all the ironing that comes with it. I love the professional finish I can give to the inside of my garments now. It is very fulfilling to gift a give that looks as nice on the inside as it does on the outside.
Here are some of my tips for beginners looking to get into the serger game:
1. Consider the Brother 1034D at $235 it is equivalent to a midlevel sewing machine while offering features found on more expensive models. I choose this machine for several reasons. First it uses regular sewing machine needles so less equipment to buy starting out. It offers both 3 threads (good for knits and rolled edge) and 4 threads (good for finishing woven edges and high stress areas (under arm and crotch) while also offering a blind hem foot. And it is easy to thread.
2. There are many videos online that show you how to use your serger. Seriously there is a video out there for so many machines that yours is certainly included.
3. Learn to maintain your machine. When the needle moves fast enough to pump out over 100 stitches a minute than you are going to want to keep it that way. Purchase machine oil and learn where to put it and how often. If the area is tricky to get to than add oil to a paintbrush and brush it on.
4. Change your needle often. I didn't and soon found the most annoying screeching sound coming out of my machine at odd times. It made me jump out of my skin every time. I started to believe I was haunted by a banshee. I changed my needle and it stopped. Change your needle weekly or with every other project, whichever comes first.
Clean your machine after every project. My serger is full of lint even after one 16'' square and lint can gunk-up your machine, absorb oil and block the smooth motion of your high speed machine.
6. Learn which basic stitches to use on which fabric from the beginning. It will save you a lot of hassle and thread.
7. Learn your tools. Your serger comes with many tools: needle changing tools, tweezers, thread cone holders. Learn them because you never know when you will need one. The Brother 1034D uses an Allen wrench to change needles and tweezers for threading.